2020 NHL Entry Draft Profile: Jacob Perreault

The son of a former Predator made a definitive mark on the OHL this season.

As the month of May rolls on, it’s becoming increasingly clear that an NHL Entry Draft scheduled for the first weekend in June is unlikely. Elliotte Friedman reported that teams were promised a 30-day notice of the draft in a memo sent by the league a few weeks ago, so that seemingly rules out early June. The question then becomes: does the league aim for the normal slot at the end of the month or wait until the season formally ends?

Regardless, the draft prospect profiles continue.

Draft Scouting - On the Forecheck

As always, the previous installments in this series can be found at the link above. If you didn’t see the April version of my 2020 NHL Entry Draft rankings, you can find that here.

This installment follows Sarnia forward and the son of Yanic Perreault, Jacob Perreault.

Jacob Perreault - C

Sarnia Sting [OHL] - 18 - Montreal, Quebec

Growing up in an NHL family, Perreault’s formative minor hockey years were spent in Chicago despite being a Montreal native. The 5’11” forward was taken in the first round of the OHL priority draft in 2018 by Sarnia, heading to Major Junior play for the 2018-19 season. That year, Perreault finished with 55 points in 63 games and became just the fifth 16-year-old OHL rookie in the past decade to hit 30 goals (the others are Arthur Kaliyev, Cole Perfetti, Alex Galchenyuk and Matt Puempel).

Perreault improved to 70 points in 57 games this season and finished fifth among all first-year draft-eligible forwards in primary points per game (1.1053). There’s concern to be had about his even-strength production—most alarmingly, his -6.02% even-strength relative goals-for rate—but there is appropriate context: Sarnia is one of the OHL’s worst teams, finishing last in the Western Conference.

Perreault’s Scouting Report

Versatile and powerful shooter with an elusive launch from his stick bladeGood transition player but too often lets up on his entry speed to glide around defenders
High-level puck skills and creative passing skills that can nagivate minimal openingsHe has the puck skills to still beat those defenders, but will need to make quicker decisions
Displays good defensive IQ and can launch well from a takeaway into transitionHas a unique passing skillset but can be overreliant on his backhand saucer pass

One of the immediate and most-highlighted drawbacks of Perreault’s game is that some think he floats too much in both the offensive and defensive zone. This is something you’ll notice below; despite good awareness and puck support ability, there’s frustration in how he doesn’t move his feet sometime.

That certainly can be a red flag, but for how teachable that engagement level can be, I think his skills on the puck far outweigh the concerns.

Sarnia was unable to convert on the scoring chance in the clip above, but the play demonstrates some things I like about Perreault’s play. During the initial offensive zone play, he provides good puck support, crashing the net as a third forward and positioning himself for a scoring chance adjacent to the puck battle. When he enters the zone a second time, Perreault utilizes a nice backhand saucer pass (he uses this so much) to carve the play through the slot and to Jamieson Rees near the net front. Finally, he displays his skilled passing ability to set up a potential scoring chance.

For as skillful as he is with the puck, Perreault is sometimes caught doing too much with it. In the play above, you’ll notice a few things: his backhand saucer pass, some good puck-playing abilities in tight spaces, and creative zone entry skills. Despite all of that, Sarnia fails to achieve any meaningful scoring attempt.

Perreault’s talent is often centered around his shooting ability. He’s equipped with a powerful, accurate shot and uses different blade launches to score off the rush, coming out of dekes or on one-timers. He won’t convert all the time, obviously, but has immense skill in crafting a non-perfect set-up into a shot attempt.

That shooting ability pairs well with his excellent transition play. Perreault excels at puck movement while moving at any speed, either forward or laterally.

Despite his skill with the puck, Perreault can be too reliant on that when it comes to zone entries. He is, mechanically, a very good skater with an explosive crossover step, but I saw too many instances of him coasting into the zone or using puck-handling instead of speed to beat defenders. It works in the clip above but won’t be so successful at the NHL level.

Regardless, it’s hard not to be convinced that Perreault is a natural scorer when he can capitalize on scoring opportunities as seen in the clip above.

I’ve noticed some criticism of Perreault’s defensive play. It’s certainly not where it could be at times, but I don’t think he’s lacking in awareness. His versatility at center and wing helps him understand both responsibilities, and when he’s engaged, he’s capable of frequently catalyzing transition with smart takeaways as seen above.

Given his shooting talent, you can likely imagine how lethal Perreault can be on the power play. Sarnia utilized him as a point player, but they like to position those two at the top of the circles rather than the blue line. You can notice how effective of a distributor he can be, and I appreciate his instinct to step into the slot for shot attempts rather than solely rely on one-timers from the circle.

There are definite improvements that can be made in some aspects of Perreault’s game, but as a younger draft-eligible player (he turned 18 a month ago), his raw talent and skating ability stand out among many.

Expected Pick Range

Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) over at silversevensens.com has done remarkable work compiling draft rankings and establishing an ‘Expected Pick Range’ from a variety of different sources. You can read about his methodology here, track the compiled rankings here, and use his data viz (embedded below) here.

Perreault’s Expected Pick Range: #19 to #30 - 1st Round

I am notably higher on Perreault than consensus; he came in at 14 on my April draft ranking.  But I can certainly see a scenario where he falls to the mid or late-twenties. Perreault is undoubtedly a first-round talent, though.

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com and pick224.com.