The most exciting thing for Winnipeg Jets fans to look forward to this season is the expanded roles for the team’s prospects. Missing the playoffs last season, combined with a lack of action from general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, will result in a lineup with plenty of young and exciting players.
One of those players is Cole Perfetti. The 10th overall selection of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is ready to not only play his first full season in the NHL but have a breakout year and be a major contributor to the forward group (from ‘Perfetti ready to take on top-six role with Jets’, Winnipeg Free Press, 8/25/22). Cheveldayoff has been adamant about playing his top prospect this season, and it seems as though he’ll be given every opportunity to have a successful sophomore season in 2022-23.
Perfetti Has the Talent to Grow Into a Top-6 Forward Role
Perfetti has always been thought of highly by NHL scouts, and this year he will finally get the opportunity to prove himself. In his final year before the draft, he played for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) where he scored 111 points in 61 games. He was outright dominant and viewed as a potential top-five pick of the 2020 NHL Draft.
When he fell to the Jets at 10th overall, the team viewed it as the steal of the draft. During his first year with the organization, he played 32 games for the Manitoba Moose, the Jets’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, as he impressed fans and management by scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace, finishing with 26 points. With him being only 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds, his talent will have to shine to crack the top six, but everything he has done in his career up until this point would indicate he has more than enough talent to do it.
Perfetti Showed Flashes of NHL Excellence Last Season
Perfetti was able to put up seven points in 18 games during his rookie season, but the main takeaway from those games was that he began to look more comfortable the higher in the lineup he played. It took a few games for him to get to an NHL level, but once he began to find chemistry with his linemates, the elite vision and passing he possesses really started to shine through.
This assist against the Florida Panthers is a great example of Perfetti’s confidence showing on the ice. He was able to make a defender slide with a fake shot and then slid the pass to Pierre-Luc Dubois for the goal. This is what he has done at every level of hockey he’s ever played at, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a regular occurrence in the NHL.
One thing that will certainly stay consistent with Perfetti is his power play abilities, as his passing makes him a threat every time he has the puck. It will be interesting to see whether or not new head coach Rick Bowness will play him with the top unit, but there’s no doubt he will be a big part of the Jets’ power-play plans this season.
Perfetti Will Likely Be Playing With Elite Forwards
The most compelling argument for Perfetti having a break-out season is the one that consists of who he will be playing with. Last season, he played wing alongside Dubois and the leading goal scorer on the team, Kyle Connor.
When you combine the passing and vision of Perfetti with the goal-scoring abilities of Connor, the Jets may stumble into a duo that will be unstoppable for years to come. They played at an above-average level for the 17 games that they played together and will hopefully build more chemistry when training camp starts in September.
No matter what, Perfetti will be put in a position to take a huge leap this season. He’s proven to have the talent, and he will be surrounded by All-Star level players near the top of the forward core. Not only would he provide a much-needed boost to the Jets in general, but the two years remaining on his deal, which is worth $894,167 in average annual value (AAV), would also become an amazing contract to fit into the top-six.
The Jets have neglected their need for a middle-six forward all summer, which indicates that they believe in what Perfetti can bring to the table. Between him, Morgan Barron, and David Gustafsson, they will be needing young players to step up in the absences of Paul Stastny and Zach Sanford. There is still time to fill this need, but it seems as though they are going to give their young players a chance to prove themselves at the NHL level, which is something very exciting for Jets fans to look forward to during the 2022-23 season.
Connor Hrabchak is 20 years old and is currently covering the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators for The Hockey Writers. He is working towards completing his communications and media degree. He was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He’s been watching hockey ever since the Jets moved back to Winnipeg in 2011, and that has inspired him to write about the sport and attempt to make it into a full-time career.