With the NHL season still on hold and the month of May flying by, it’s time to look ahead to the draft and who the Anaheim Ducks might select. When the season was paused, the Ducks had the fifth-best odds for a top-three pick, or to earn the first-overall pick. However, there are variables that the NHL is still debating that include lottery rule changes. If the standard rules remain and the Ducks moved into the top three, they would have an excellent selection of players from which to choose. If they stay at No. 5 or fall back, they will also have a chance to select a player who would fill a position of need. One of those players is OHL forward Cole Perfetti.
Like Jamie Drysdale, Perfetti’s ranking among players who are likely to hear their name called early in the draft is uncertain. Craig Button of TSN has him ranked as high as the No. 4 best prospect available, while The Athletic mock draft has him going at No. 8 to the Montreal Canadiens, (from ‘NHL Mock Draft: Beat writers preview the 2020 draft lottery’ The Athletic, 3/09/2020).
Perfetti will likely be available for the Ducks at No. 5 or even later if the Ducks fall in the lottery. If Drysdale is off the board, and Alexander Holtz goes early, management would be smart to select Perfetti.
The Ducks Perfetti Fit
The Whitby, Ontario native has lit up the OHL this season to the tune of 37 goals and 74 assists, nearly a 40-point jump from last season’s 74-point output. He capped off 2018-19’s performance with a 14-point contribution for the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL Playoffs. He trailed only Marco Rossi in scoring during the 2019-2020 campaign.
General manager Bob Murray would be wise to have “shooting” on his mind before going live with his first pick in what is likely to be a virtual draft. If I was him, I’d be listening to LMFAO’s musical masterpiece, “Shots,” before he starts drafting from his kitchen, or his home office, or wherever he decides to draft from, pants on or off.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
Kidding aside, the Ducks desperately need of a player who can finish, and Perfetti’s elite shot, combined with the other all-around skills that make him a potential top-ten pick, should appeal to Murray.
Dallas Eakins’ emphasis on offensive creativity and puck possession is useless without a player who can convert increased possession to more goals using his elite shot. The Ducks do not currently have a player who can do that on their roster.
This doesn’t mean Murray should be focusing on his shot exclusively, there are plenty of players available later in the draft who can shoot, but Perfetti can do much more in the offensive zone.
Draft experts say his playmaking ability is almost as good as his goal-scoring prowess. He sees the offensive zone in ways others do not, and he’s as capable of making a creative pass as he is unleashing his elite shot.
Does Size Matter?
There are some weaknesses to Perfetti’s game according to scouts. Although size isn’t as important as it used to be in the NHL, especially at forward, it’s still a factor, especially in a bigger, more physical Western Conference. Perfetti is 5-foot-10, not as small as Rossi, another prospect the Ducks could target, but he would be tied for the shortest player on the Ducks with Andrew Agozzino.
Also, Perfetti doesn’t quite have the straight-ahead speed that has become so valuable in today’s NHL. Still, scouts don’t think it will hinder him from keeping up.
Move Steel to Third-Line Center
Where would he Perfetti fit in? He would help give the Ducks a formidable foundation up the middle if he pans out as experts expect. The adage about Stanley Cup-winning teams is that they are strong up the middle. The potential is there for Anaheim.
Related: Anaheim Ducks Jersey History
They have Trevor Zegras in the pipeline, and he is tabbed as the team’s next star. Sam Steel has shown glimpses of potential but is still early in his development. Isac Lundestrom has also shown flashes of promise, and Adam Henrique will be around for a while (unless the Ducks expose him in Seattle’s expansion draft).
If they can add Perfetti, he might one day fit in as a second-line center, capable of top-line minutes if needed. Meanwhile, Steel could move down to the third line where he might be more effective.
Ryan Getzlaf is in the final stretch of his career as is Ryan Kesler. At 30 years old, even Henrique might not be as capable as he has been even if he is still around. The Ducks will need a new infusion at center, and Perfetti has the goal-scoring skills to help the Ducks become potent offensively again.