Gabe Perreault is a playmaking winger who the Maple Leafs may select at 28th overall
Photo credit:Photo by Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
3 months ago
Generating offence from players outside of the “Core Four” has been a constant challenge for the Leafs over the past few years.
This has been especially apparent in the playoffs, where that detriment was a key factor in their demise on the biggest stage. This makes it imperative for a team in their position to find quality players on cheap contracts, with first-round picks being extremely helpful on that front.
If they are looking for playmaking forwards, there’s one that just broke a USNTDP record previously set by Auston Matthews that could be available late in the first round. He is the subject of another post in my series doing deep dives on prospects the Leafs could take with their No. 28 overall pick.
Gabe Perreault is a right wing who spent the past season as part of the U.S. National Team Development Program. The Canadian-born American forward is classified as a playmaker and comes in around average in terms of size for his position, standing 5’11” and weighing 165 pounds.
He may not be the quickest player on the ice, but Perreault makes up for it by having some of the best hands and vision among this current crop of playmaking forward prospects. He can read the play developing extremely quickly and it allows him to get defenders to bite on his moves to set up a springing teammate or get in position to fire a shot. Speaking of his release, it’s deceptive and quick, which makes him a tricky player for opposing teams to deal with because he has multiple ways of beating you. Perreault also has good compete levels and has developed a knack for stealing pucks to regain possession.
The biggest detractor in his game is his poor skating mechanics for a player of his size. He is a very top-heavy skater with a wide stride, which makes it hard for him to gain his outside edges and makes him susceptible to defensive pressure and losing steam much quicker than most in the offensive zone. There are also concerns about how well his skillset will translate at higher levels as its unclear if his puck battles in junior will be able to carry over as his career progresses. Given that he is seen as a complimentary player, there are also questions on how well he will fare away from linemate Will Smith.
Even still, his high intelligence of the game and ability to read the game at rapid speeds make him one of the more intriguing playmakers in this draft class. His hockey IQ stems from him being the son of former NHL forward Yanic Perrault as well as Gabe’s older brother, Jacob, being a Ducks prospect. Even if Gabe Perreault is best suited to playing beside a play driver, he can make the most of his usage and remain an impactful forward.
What the scouts are saying
Ranked #20 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #18 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #14 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #25 by DAILY FACEOFF
Ranked #24 by THE HOCKEY NEWS
Ranked #23 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #21 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #15 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #19 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #41 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #29 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #27 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects: “Playmaking winger who plays with energy and forechecks effectively. Will have to continue to develop physically while rounding out the rest of his game but possesses top-six NHL potential.”
Ian Kennedy, Yahoo Sports: “There’s a lot to love about Perreault. He can undeniably produce. His offensive gifts are clear and the critiques about his game — whether it be a perceived reliance on others, defensive deficiencies or his skating — don’t actually equate when you look at what he’s done. Even if he’s relying on others, he finishes. And teams can always find a set-up person when they have a player like Perreault to support. Hard to pass on the top-six scoring potential.”
Tony Ferrari, The Hockey News: “The ultimate complementary player, Perreault is a play connector. He and Will Smith broke Auston Matthews’ NTDP U-18 season scoring record of 117 points, but it’s Perreault that sits atop the list with 132. Perreault is one of the most intelligent players in the draft class, and he put his name on the map at the World Men’s Under-18 Championship where he helped the U.S. squad to the gold medal. The NTDP winger is excellent at playing bumper in the neutral zone, making the give-and-go passes or giving his teammates passing outlets. He has some skating issues that will need a fair amount of work, but his intellect makes up for it. He has a great shot, excellent passing habits and good puck skill. If Perreault is the third-best player on a line, he has all of the tools to help push play positively. He needs a play driver, but he can do a lot to make an impact despite the limitations.”
Steven Ellis, DailyFaceoff: “Perreault’s greatest concern this season was perceived reliance on his teammates to get stuff done. But you don’t break the 100-point barrier by accident, especially when so few players have managed to do so. The biggest hangup is his skating, but he plays a similar skilled offensive game to Lucas Raymond’s.”
His high-point production is no accident and he has rightfully earned his place as a potential first-round pick in this upcoming draft. Perreault’s high hockey IQ, vision, duel threat, and ability to retrieve pucks should give him the tools needed to be a top-six forward if he reaches his potential.
The knacks on his game are his skating mechanics, size, and concerns about how he will fare at higher levels, which will have to be addressed to ensure he makes the jump a reality. Having said that, there is enough of a good starting point that he is worth taking a flyer on if he remains available late in the first round.
Bringing another Perreault onto the Leafs would certainly be an intriguing choice if that’s the direction they head in when it is their turn to pick.
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