The son of former NHLer Yanic Perreault, center Jacob Perreault was having himself quite a campaign with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting up until this season’s conclusion in early March. Starting the season as an “A” rated prospect by NHL Central Scouting, Perreault established himself firmly in the conversation to be a top 20 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Since scoring 55 points in 63 games as a rookie in the OHL last year, Perreault has become one of the OHL’s top players. His combination of an impressive shot and exceptional skating ability makes Perreault one of my favourite prospects for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft.
Height: 5’11 – Weight(lbs): 198 – Position: C – DOB: April 15th, 2002 – Place of Birth: Montreal, QC
My Personal Rank: #16
NHL Central Scouting Rank: #17 (N.A Skaters)
EliteProspects.com Rank: #22
HockeyProspect.com Rank: #28
ISS Hockey Rank: #27
McKeen’s Hockey Rank: #21
Statistics (via EliteProspects.com and @MitchLBrown on Twitter)
As you can see, year after year Perreault has yet to encounter a scoring stump as he has continued to produce wherever he has played. After finishing the 2018/19 campaign fourth in OHL rookie scoring, Perreault continued his dominance this past season, finishing sixth among first year OHL draft eligibles with 70 points in 57 games, as well as tying for second in goals with 39. Although Sarnia finished with the third worst record in the league– in context Perreault and the Sting finished 10th among the 20 OHL clubs in goals scored. Sarnia will lose two of their top four scorers from this past season in Sean Josling and Ryan McGregor. The team will rely heavily on both Perreault and Carolina Hurricanes 2019 2nd round pick Jamieson Rees for a scoring punch next season. With back to back 30-goal seasons, it is reasonable to forecast Perreault hitting the 50-goal mark next year in a full season, even with the loss of some high-end offensive linemates.
Recent players with a similar stats per game in their draft year: Jacob Perreault (1.22 p/g, 0.68 g/g), Ryan Suzuki (1.15 p/g, 0.38 g/g), Philip Tomasino (1.07 p/g, 0.51 g/g) and Joe Veleno (1.23 p/g, 0.34 g/g). The OHL does not provide the public with “time on ice” (TOI) statistics, so it is important to contextualize the situation of an OHL player (i.e team role, linemates, time on ice, team success etc.) In this case, Perreault would have had more opportunity than players such as Suzuki and Tomasino because Suzuki and Tomasino were pushed down the lineup due to the high quality of their respective teams. While Perreault was given more opportunity to play, he did not have the same type of support in the form of teammates like Suzuki and Tomasino did.
As indicated in the data tracked by @MitchLBrown on Twitter (graph above), Perreault performed exceptionally well in terms of goal-scoring (his best attribute), as well as zone entries and exits. We can interpret from this data that Perreault likes to shoot — a lot — and he is very good at it too. Perreault averaged 3.63 shots per game which ranks 27th highest in the OHL, whilst piling up 39 goals, 11th overall in that category league-wide. Jacob Perreault is a player that also ranks highly in transitional play, with the ability to both gain and exit the zone due to his impressive skating and puck protection abilities. Below, Perreault successfully gains the offensive zone which eventually leads to a goal off of the defender:
The stat which is most concerning for Perreault is his Even Strength Goals-For Relative Percentage (EV GF%Rel). The definition of EV GF% is the percentage of even strength goals scored by the players team while that player was on the ice. The EV GF%Rel is the player’s Even Strength Goals-For Percentage (EV GF%) minus the percentage of even-strength goals scored by the player’s team while that player was not on the ice. This gives you an idea of how well the player performs defensively in relation to their team’s average. Perreault clocks in at a -6.02 EV GF%Rel, meaning his team lets in on average 6.02% more goals than they score while he is on the ice. With such a dominant skillset, there are questions raised on his poor defensive statistics and it eventually comes down to his effort or lack thereof as shown below (#44 in the bottom left):
In this clip, Perreault does not put any effort in his back check and defensive positioning which leaves his man open. Also, take note of the terrible defensive awareness on display where Perreault leaves his man and gets caught up in the slot resulting in a dangerous shot attempt against.
Ratings are based off of a 1-10 scale with 1 being the worst, and 10 outstanding.
Hockey IQ: 8
Work Ethic: 6
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Perreault’s game is his skating. With a solid stride to go along with great edge work, Perreault is one of the best skaters in the draft–when he tries. Perreault seems to glide around the ice when the puck is not on his stick which is frustrating to watch– he could have accumulated many more points by finding open spaces and creating options for his teammates through the use of his skating. While Perreault does not show his skating ability as often as we’d like, there is no denying his talent when he decides to show it.
Perreault finished first in many on-ice testing drills at the CHL Top Prospects combine ahead of great OHL players such as Jean-Luc Foudy and Jamie Drysdale. Perreault finished first in the following categories at the Top Prospects on-ice testing in January: 30M Forward Skate, 30M Forward Skate with Puck, Reaction Testing, and Weave Agility with Puck. The mystery with Jacob Perreault is his willingness and ability to utilize his skills and skating in-game. While there is no denying that he is a talented hockey player, it is eventually up to him if he wants to work harder in order to make it to the NHL. Perreault is already at 200lbs, so perhaps shedding some weight and improving his agility may help his overall skillset in-game as well. Here is a clip where Perreault uses his skating and edges to create a scoring chance to which he hits the crossbar:
Jacob Perreault has one of the best shots in the draft, and it is no wonder he has back-to-back 30-goal seasons under his belt. With a shot this good, Perreault has the ability to back defenders off which opens up both shooting lanes and passing lanes for his teammates. What stands out to me is Perreault’s ability to score from anywhere on the ice much like Montreal 2019 first round pick Cole Caufield. Perreault can score from a multitude of different areas thanks to his quick, heavy and accurate release such as: on the rush, from the redline, cross-ice one-timers or the simple two steps and shoot. In comparison, Perreault finished the season with 39 goals and 207 shots averaging 3.63 shots/game, while Peterborough’s Nick Robertson who led the league in goals finished with 55 goals, 255 shots and an average of 5.54 shots/game. While the mechanics of their shots are different, both players are extremely talented goal-scorers who thrive with a high shot/game rate. Perreault does not really need to improve his shot as it is already at such a high level, therefore I’d recommend he works on other parts of his game such as effort and consistency. These are both vital skills to becoming a professional hockey player. Here is a clip of Perreault creating an angle for his shot and then finishing it off:
Standing at 5’11 and approximately 200lbs, Perreault is a player who doesn’t need to get bigger or add more size to fully maximize his NHL potential. At this point in his career, Perreault is bigger than much of his competition and he uses his size effectively in order to both protect and control the puck. Perreault is also very good in the cycle and he wins a good amount of 50/50 battles by using his body and being hard on his stick. When watching Perreault, you can often see him using his body to shield the puck whilst going wide on defenders and driving the net or engaged in a puck battle in his own end.
Although there are few weaknesses in Perreault’s game, defence is definitively one of them. Perreault’s lack of defensive ability can be most attributed to his work ethic as well as defensive IQ. Perreault seems to get lost in the defensive zone quite a bit, often leaving his man in open space. This is really a question mark as he must’ve been taught proper defensive positioning and strategies, but it comes down to him putting in effort much like the rest of his game. There are some instances where Perreault tracks down the puck carrier and strips him, resulting in an offensive turnover. With more consistency, effort, and coaching, I have no doubt Jacob Perreault can improve on his defensive play.
Offensively, Perreault is a beast when given space. He has the ability to pick a pass or create his own lane which often leads to scoring chances. Perreault should benefit from both finding and creating his own open space, but he instead often relies on his teammates or simply his individual skills. Perreault is often found coasting around and normally does not attack open space unless he has the puck. Overall, Perreault is a smart player who normally picks the right option, but being fully engaged throughout the whole game should be a goal for him as he could easily have achieved a 50+ goal campaign if he wanted to. Below, Perreault has his head up, and utilizes a safe option instead of attempting a cross-ice pass which could have easily been broken up:
When in possession of the puck, Jacob Perreault is as dangerous as they come in this draft class. Perreault can be seen skating circles in the offensive zone with the puck in order to survey the ice and select the right option. Defensively, Perreault shows the ability to hunt down the opposition and strip them of the puck. However, Perreault’s off-puck movements can be designated as an area in need of improvement. Instead of darting to open space or sticking to his man in the defensive zone, Perreault seems to lose interest and starts to coast, which can explain why you don’t notice him much in some games. Whether he is simply too good for the league or he lacks engagement, Perreault needs to give 110% every game in order to become a more visible and dynamic player at both ends of the ice.
Jacob Perreault is one of the players with the highest individual skill in this draft class, and he can be seen as a “boom or bust” type of prospect. I personally believe that with his talent and skill, Perreault has the upside of a top 6 forward. However, if he does not improve his work ethic and become more engaged in each game he may not ever make it to the NHL. All in all, you have a tank of a player whose skating and shot have the ability to take over games. Personally, I have him ranked #16 on my list as I believe his potential is too high to pass up and I have trust he will work on becoming fully engaged throughout his games.