Some might say that Jacob Perreault has a lot to live up to, but if you ask him, he doesn’t think about it.
Perreault’s whole family plays the game. His father, Yanic, played in the NHL for 14 years, Liliane, his sister, currently plays at Mercyhurst University, and his brothers, Jeremy and Gabriel, play for the Chicago Cougars and Mission.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
He said in an interview with the BTS Hockey Podcast recently, that it’s really nice to be able to take this time to spend with his family during the pandemic.
“These times are pretty difficult, so staying home and spending time with family is pretty fun. I don’t get to see them very much throughout the year, so being home with them is pretty special. It gives me the time to work on my skills and get better. I have my dad here to teach me some new stuff, so it’s a good time to enjoy the down time, and it’s good to get ready for next season too.”
It’s clear when you hear him talk that Perreault’s father is a big influence in his life, and he is someone that gives him confidence in the next step of his career.
“It’s really special. Not a lot of people have a dad who played in the NHL. My dad, and what he did in the NHL is hard to believe. I’m blessed to have him. It’s special, and I can feed off him to elevate my game to new levels. He’s been through it and can guide me through it.”
Growing Up Around the Game
With his family moving around quite a bit when he was younger, Perreault said that he took something from every place that he lived.
“It was good for hockey development for me. I got to play hockey in a couple different spots, so seeing how they play, it’s a bit different everywhere you go. It gave me a different understanding of it all, seeing my dad playing for those teams, I got to watch a lot of hockey growing up. Even now, he’s a player development coach for the Blackhawks, so I still get to watch Kane, Toews, Panarin was there. It’s fun to watch and it’s good for my hockey IQ and understanding of the game.”
However, growing up with a father in the NHL, he recalled some of his favorite memories as a kid that he got experience — his father had many mutual friends and he got to spend some time with the best the league had to offer.
“My dad would have a tournament in the summer and he’d have a couple NHL players come down just to stay in shape. One year he had (Sidney) Crosby, another year he had (Patrice) Bergeron, David Perron, Kris Letang. A bunch of cool guys like that. They’d stay at our house. We’d get to spend time like that that, and that was pretty special.”
Heading to Sarnia
Before heading off to Sarnia to play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Perreault played for the Chicago Mission, where he gained recognition and was eventually selected 19th overall in the 2018 OHL Draft.
The transition to the OHL was something Perreault had to get used to, but he said he has really enjoyed his time playing for the Sting.
“The OHL is quicker, it’s older guys. In Chicago, I got to build some friendships there growing up and I played there for so long. It was awesome. Going to the OHL, there was an adjustment period, but I feel like I adjusted pretty quickly and so far, I’ve loved it there. We have a great team, great players, I think we are all really close as a team, and it’s really fun to have those guys as teammates.”
Perreault had a big 2019-20 season, scoring 39 goals, and tallying a total of 70 points, solidifying himself as one of the top goal scorers in this draft class.
He credits much of his success from the get-go to his teammates, and said that they helped him to settle down and channel what it took for him to be successful.
I’ve learned a lot going from year one to year two. Year one, I was a 16-year-old, a little nervous. We had some great vets. Mitch Elliot and Nick Grima. Those guys were good to me. I was nervous my first game, they both came up and gave me a tap on the shin pads and told me to be myself and I think that’s what helped me develop and push myself as a player. If those guys didn’t help me I don’t think I would have done as well as I did my first game. Coming into my second year, it gave me some leadership skills, just seeing how they did with me when I was a younger guy, and seeing the younger guys coming into the league. If they’re nervous or in a bit of a slump, I go and see them, give them some words to help them to be themselves and help them to get back onto their game.
Preparing for the Draft
Currently projected to be picked at some point in the second half of the first round in the 2020 NHL draft, Perreault says that while he would love to get drafted by any team, getting drafted by one of the teams that play in cities he grew up in would be extra special.
“Every team would be amazing to get drafted by, but everyone obviously has their favorite teams. Growing up in Chicago, and being born in Montreal, getting on one of those two teams would be nice, especially because my dad played for them. At the same time, any team, I’d love to play for.”
Perreault said that he’s looking forward to the whole draft process, despite how the coronavirus is effecting things.
“It’s something new. It’s pretty special at the same time though. You grow up and watch the NHL, now you have teams calling you, checking in to see who you are as a person. They know who you are as a player. It’s a memorable time right now, I’m really excited for the draft coming up.”
With his preparation continuing to move forward, Perreault is just doing his best to take things one step at a time, and not overthink the process.
“The month coming up is a big moment in my life. I try to not think about the draft too much. I just want to work on what I can control, and what I can improve on. I’ve talked to my agent and teams, and they give me feedback about what I can improve on.”
Perreault’s teammate Jamieson Rees was selected in the second round by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 NHL Draft. Perreault got a chance to talk to Rees about his experience at the draft and everything that he would go through when it was his turn to be drafted.
“It was a big day for him. I remembered texting him congrats when he got drafted. This year, I asked him how it was. This year there’s obviously no combine, but I talked to him about that. I look up to him. He came into the league, and he’s elevated his game every year, and that’s something that I want to do. Last year he made a big jump, even after he got drafted. You still have to work hard to get to the next level and he’s been a good example of that.”
When Perreault was asked if he had any advice for anyone heading into the OHL, he gave an honest answer.
“Just be yourself. Play your game and things will go your way. The OHL is something you’ll always remember, it’s a great experience, and will be close to everyone. Just be yourself.”
Something tells me that advice will work out in his favor every step of the way for himself as well.