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2020 NHL Draft prospect profile: Jacob Perreault may be the best shooter in the class

In a draft class full of talent, Perreault’s shot stands above the rest.

Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Jacob Perreault is the son of former NHL player Yanic Perreault, and he raised his draft profile due to his goal scoring ability. Many scouts consider Perreault to have one of, if not the best shot in the draft.

Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec
Date of birth: April 15, 2002
Shoots: Right
Position: Right-Winger
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 198 lbs.
Team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Perreault arrived on the scene in his rookie year in the OHL, hitting the 30 goal mark. His second year, he upped that total to 39 goals in six fewer games. He also added six more assists.

He wasn’t named to Canada’s U18 team for the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament, and that may have served as motivation for his 2019-20 season. He averaged around 18 minutes a game and just about four shots. Of his 70 points, 29 were scored on the power play.

Strengths

It doesn’t take a long time of watching Perreault to see what his strength is. His shot is one of the best in the entire class if not the best. That is no light praise in a class that includes players like Alexander Holtz, Alexis Lafreniere, and Jack Quinn, among others. While some players have a great wrist shot, or a great snap shot, or a slap shot, or a one-timer, Perreault can do it all.

We often hear about players who can score from everywhere, but with Perreault that’s not exaggerated. He’s always in a shooting position, and his shot can definitely play.

The versatility of his shot is what sticks out the most. It doesn’t matter where he is, or what kind of shot he uses — it can often end up in the back of the net and is almost always a scoring chance.

Perreault’s signature shot may just be his backhand. It isn’t a shot we see often in today’s game, but he is able to use that to his advantage. He can often be seen faking as if he’s just trying to protect the puck before flipping it past the surprised goaltender.

As seen in his improved offensive numbers, scouts say that Perreault’s playmaking improved and is a strength of his game. He is able to make passes and find teammates. His awareness in the offensive zone allows him to find the weak spots in the defence and exploit it.

Another aspect to Perreault’s game that is a strength is his zone entries. He played on a Sarnia team that lacked puck movers so he was often tasked with that himself, and he didn’t disappoint. He can score off the rush, gain entries in transition, and create chances for his team.

His shooting, and zone entries are among the best in the tracking project by Mitch Brown and he finds himself in the 92nd percentile or even better.

Mitch Brown’s Tracking Project

Weaknesses

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. A player with offensive numbers and skill like Perreault shouldn’t be talked about in the second half of the first round. The issue with Perreault in the eyes of scouts is that his effort is inconsistent, especially off the puck.

The issue is not that he is always lazy in the defensive zone or when backchecking. There are examples when he’s completely engaged. The issue is that the effort is simply not consistent and there’s nothing tangible that seems to dictate whether the effort will be there or not. The plus/minus of -34 may be indicative of this, but Sarnia was a team that struggled to a 22-34-6 record with a -55 goal differential, finishing last in their division.

Perreault was the team’s top player and felt the brunt of those goals allowed. On the flip side of this, his zone exits were among the best, so if he gets the puck in the defensive zone, he’s able to get it out with control.

Another tick in the negative column for Perreault is that while he can make plays, his vision wouldn’t be considered elite. A lot of the plays he makes are predictable but there’s something to be said for making the plays, even if they don’t make you wonder where they came from.

There are also mixed reviews when it comes to his skating. When you watch him skate with the puck you can clearly see that the talent is there. The mechanics of a good, even potentially great skater, are there but again there are inconsistencies that take him down from elite prospect to one that is slightly below that.

Rankings

Elite Prospects: #21
Future Considerations: #23
Hockey Prospect: #16
McKeen’s Hockey: #28
McKenzie/TSN: #21
NHL Central Scouting: #17 (North American skaters)

There is little doubt among scouts that Perreault will be taken in the first round of the 2020 Draft, but the rankings can be seen as a bit low considering the high-end skill that he brings to the table.

He can be seen as a bit of a swing for the fences because of the risk in the defensive zone, however, many people will say that you believe in the talent and there are many NHL forwards whose defence can be questioned.

In what is a potential fun fact (with additional potential to make you feel old — you’ve been warned) Jacob was born in April, 2002 just as his father was preparing to play the Boston Bruins in the first round of the NHL playoffs as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Yanic racked up three assists in Montreal’s 5-2 win three days later. The Canadiens went on to win the series.

If a team is looking for an offensive skill set, it’s possible that Perreault may be taken higher than some rankings have him, but in a draft class filled with talent, any potential negative can have you fall a few places. There’s no shortage of talent in the top part of the draft.

There are scouts who feel that Perreault’s game could see him in the top 10, but he would be too risky a pick at that spot, which sees him settle in the second half of the draft. It just so happens that’s where the Canadiens find themselves as well.