On Oct. 28, the Detroit Red Wings traded defensive prospect Alec Regula to the Chicago Blackhawks for left winger Brendan Perlini. A first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Perlini has played for the Arizona Coyotes and Blackhawks for the last three years, stringing together 45 goals and 72 points in 200 games. The 23-year-old, United Kingdom native brings a jolt of offensive upside to a Red Wings team in desperate need of depth scoring.
Fate, it seems, has provided Perlini with a new opportunity in Detroit. While he struggled to stay in the lineup in Chicago, he’ll have plenty of chances to cement a long-term role with the Red Wings as they seek to improve their offensive output. It will be up to him to determine whether or not he can remain a force in the lineup. Today, we’ll look at Perlini’s potential and how — for better or worse — it will affect the Red Wings’ outlook this season.
Perlini at His Best
When given opportunities to succeed, Perlini has shown he’s more than capable of shouldering an extra scoring burden. Last season’s game against his former Coyotes saw him net his first career hat trick, ending the season with a combined 14 goals between the Coyotes and Blackhawks. At 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, he’s another example of general manager Steve Yzerman’s focus on tall, powerful players he’d like to see contribute to the Red Wings’ future. When Perlini is given chances to succeed, he’s shown glimpses of the top-six forward he was projected to be when he was drafted.
Perlini could be another player on the hunt for a fresh start. This year, he’s been scratched nine times in the Blackhawks’ first 10 games of the season, only earning seven minutes of ice time during the one game he was able to play. Having said that, he was able to remain a consistent scoring threat during the tail end of the 2018-19 NHL season, putting up 11 points in 17 games while playing on the team’s middle-six lines.
A Tale of Two Perlinis
An argument can be made that Perlini’s inconsistencies were the reason for his frequent scratches. If you look at his advanced statistics from last year, you’ll notice that the Blackhawks were 8% below the league average for offensive scoring opportunities when he was on the ice. He was ineffective on the power play and did very little on the defensive end. It’s hard to tell whether it was his play or an improper deployment that caused Perlini’s statistics to stagnate. Having said that, watching a player struggle across two separate teams doesn’t bode well for first impressions on a new team.
If hindsight ends up biting the Red Wings, Perlini may not be able to find a consistent spot on the roster, causing the offense to further deteriorate as they await the development of players like Joe Veleno and Filip Zadina. Additionally, losing Regula in the trade could cause the Red Wings to miss out on a potentially impressive prospect. Regula, the co-captain of the OHL’s London Knights, currently has 11 points in 10 games on the team’s top defensive pairing unit. While he’s currently projected to be a bottom-three defenseman at the NHL level, it may sting to see him in a Chicago jersey if the Perlini project results in a failure.
If anything can be taken from these numbers, it’s that the highs are high and the lows are low with Perlini. In a perfect world, he will be able to fight his way to a consistent spot on the roster, slotting on a line with Andreas Athanasiou and Taro Hirose to reinvigorate the Red Wings’ second line. At worst, Perlini will serve as a great extra forward when players become injured. He’s shown he can make a difference as a bottom-six player, but the potential to generate consistent offensive threats falls upon him and him alone.
If he wants to be a difference-maker in Detroit, he’ll have to earn it.