The preseason and regular season for Brendan Perlini has been night and day. He had a great first impression for the Edmonton Oilers, really showing off his goal-scoring ability and leading the team in goals in the preseason. Once the regular season kicked off, his role was decreased with all of the NHL regulars in the lineup.
Perlini was only able to get into the lineup for 13 of the team’s 23 games before being placed on waivers where his time was short-lived, as he was given a second chance with players enduring injuries and landing on COVID-protocol (“Devin Shore returns, Brendan Perlini odd man out as Edmonton Oilers face Minnesota Wild”, Edmonton Journal, Dec. 7, 2021). He did very little and produced zero points before being sent down. There shouldn’t be much time to prove himself and he knows it, with the Zach Hyman injury only day-to-day, and Ryan McLeod and Devin Shore in COVID-protocol before the last game.
In his return, Perlini recorded a goal, assist, seven shots, and two hits, in just under 10:30. He increased his time on ice by performing well, but what may be the most impressive stat is that he managed to get off that many shots in such a limited amount of ice time. On top of that, the Oilers outshot the Columbus Blue Jackets 12-3 when Perlini was on the ice in the team’s first win in seven games (“Player grades: Skinner, Perlini and Puljujarvi lead Edmonton Oilers huge win over Columbus Blue Jackets”, Edmonton Journal, Dec. 16, 2021).
With Kailer Yamamoto not shooting the puck and playing in the top-six, Perlini could see an opportunity come his way if Yamamoto was to be demoted to the bottom-six.
The depth of the Oilers has competition, but if he can prove that he is a reliable depth option that can produce, the team could use more of that with how the scoring had dried up on their losing streak.
Message/Opportunity When Being Sent to Bakersfield
Perlini sat down with the media after his first game back and revealed a lot about his experience with the whole situation of being sent down and returning so quickly. What was seen by most as possibly the end of the road for him, he saw in a different light and seems to always look at things in a positive manner.
“Going down I wasn’t thinking of it as a negative, I was looking at it as an opportunity to go, play some minutes, get the mojo back, get a lot of puck touches, luckily scored a couple goals down there.”
– Brendan Perlini
It wasn’t luck at all. With as many shots as Perlini was able to get off in two games, some are bound to go in sooner or later. The more shots you take, the more likely one will find the back of the net, and you can’t score if you don’t take the shot in the first place.
“Go down and get playing, feel the puck, and get playing in all situations again. I enjoyed my couple of games there and have a good feeling coming back here with a lot of positivity.”
Instead of the 7:33 of ice time Perlini was averaging before being sent down, he was able to play heavy minutes and really get the feel for his game back. Though he didn’t spend much time in the American Hockey League (AHL) at all, just a game or two is all some players need to feel confident in their game again.
Confidence is so key to every player’s game, and it gets tougher and tougher to get it back once it’s lacking or gone. The opportunity to go down and score two goals in two games gave Perlini back the feeling of being a contributing factor offensively and the confidence to shoot the puck more. He’s a shooter and a goal-scorer, as his young career has proven thus far, so getting back to those ways is very important.
Positives Perlini Brought With Him After Being Recalled
There’s always more than one way to think about every situation put in front of you. Perlini chose to look at the positives. He knew his game wasn’t where it needed to be, and that’s why he only got in about half of the games for the Oilers. If he had played better or contributed a little more then he would’ve got more of an opportunity and not been the player sent down.
He also knew his time in the NHL wasn’t over, and brought what worked for him in his time in the AHL back with him and applied it right away.
“Anytime you get the minutes down there, I played 20-plus both games, you get a lot of puck touches and get the feeling back. So for me I noticed the same thing, seven or eight shots on goal. For me, I was like try and do that up here, try to replicate it and get pucks to the net, good things will happen and luckily it did.”
He continued to speak of luck, but good things happen with hard work and being in the right place. If you have a bad attitude and look to assign blame to others, it’s much harder to look within and put in the extra work and focus to be able to take your play to the next level.
“Coming back this way you have a good feeling, a very positive attitude, I try to replicate it up here. Be in good spirits for everyone, carry a lot of positivity around the room and for the guys.”
Slotted in on the third line beside Derek Ryan and Zack Kassian, Perlini may get an even better shot next game. Nugent-Hopkins was just placed on COVID-protocol earlier today, so an even better opportunity may have presented itself for Perlini to step up and play alongside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl in their game Saturday.
Once players start returning to the lineup, Perlini may be someone who stays with the Oilers.
Perlini Enjoys Hockey & Will Help in Any Way Possible
Upon returning, Perlini was asked if he had frustration on being in and out of the lineup before he was sent down to Bakersfield.
“It’s not frustrating at all. Of course you want to play and contribute to the team, but any way I can do that, whether it’s in practice or in games. I know coming in here that you weren’t going to get the minutes that Connor (McDavid) or Leon (Draisaitl) are getting, so you’re playing very much a role that’s for the team. For me, like I said, I try to help out in any way possible.”
While some players would get upset with less playing time, Edmonton is a different type of team with two of the best players in the world playing on it. But now Perlini has more of an opportunity to be considered for a top-six role with players out of the lineup. He had mentioned that he was playing in all situations again during the two games in the minors. That could be something to work on and improve so that it gives him a one-up on some other depth Oilers competing with him for a spot.
Perlini doesn’t feel any pressure to do something special or not get scored on while on the ice, he says, “I just go out there and play hockey. I’m going to wake up every day getting another crack at this, so for me it’s go out, have fun, play hockey, and try your best.”
A lot of positives were learned from his demotion, and if Perlini can get going and be as effective as he has been in past seasons in the NHL, the Oilers will have one less player to worry about in their bottom-six.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
You can find more of his work here.