Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/CHL Images
Cole Perfetti? More like Goal Perfetti. (I wouldn’t blame you if you shut down your computer after that).
Few prospects have been as fun to follow over the past 2-3 years than Perfetti, one of the top offensive threats from the 2002-born CHL class. Regardless of league, Perfetti’s primary points-per-estimated-60 of 4.11 was good for fifth among all eligible first-year draft prospects, moving up a spot to fourth among primary points-per-game with a 1.39 rating. That’s all thanks to an impressive 111-point sophomore campaign, a year after leading all OHL rookies with 37 goals and 74 points on a Saginaw team that came close to advancing to the league final.
Perfetti entered his draft year as one of the top prospects and he hardly disappointed. He started by winning gold with Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in August, highlighted by a tournament-leading eight goals and 12 points in just five contests. He then turned that opportunity into a shot at Canada’s World Junior Championship team at camp in December, and while he struggled to find his groove against older competition, Perfetti proved he could at least hang with the best.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into Perfetti’s abilities:
D.O.B – January 1, 2002
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Height – 5’10
Weight – 185 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Left
Perfetti’s Style Of Play
Two years ago, you wouldn’t be blamed if you only noticed Perfetti for his innate scoring ability. Perfetti’s 52 goals were by far the most of any GTHLer in 2017-18, with just Brennan Othmann (Shane Wright’s teammate in Don Mills in 2018-19) beating Perfetti’s goal-count since 2015-16. Perfetti scored 37 goals as an OHL rookie, which, at the time, was the most scored by a U-17 player over the past decade before Wright upped the bounty with 39 this season. So, yes, scoring is a major part of Perfetti’s game. Perfetti’s wrist shot has been among the most dangerous in the entire CHL since his graduation to major junior, and he’s no slouch when getting off a slap shot or a one-timer. At this point, I will confidently say that the only players with a more impressive wrist shot in the draft are Alexis Lafrenière (projected No. 1) and Alexander Holtz (potential top five pick), if that tells you anything about Perfetti’s hard, lethal snipe.
But to make the most of his scoring abilities, he needs to put himself in those situations. Fortunately, Perfetti has the speed and hands to make high-reward plays at a quick rate, and he can contain possession on both the forehand and backhand with equal ease. While Perfetti’s goal-scoring abilities have never been questioned, his play-making maneuvers have been steadily improving over the past few seasons. In the past, he may have given up a good passing opportunity to instead force a shot on net, but as he’s gotten more patient and smart with the puck, Perfetti has nearly “perfected” the other aspects of his offensive game. That’s why, despite sitting at 37 goals for the second consecutive year, Perfetti increased from 37 assists to 74 this season in what was seen as a big development year for the dominant offensive weapon. Perfetti’s 33 primary assists at even strength were the most in the CHL among draft-eligible prospects. In fact, his 62 even strength primary points bested Lafrenière’s 59 for the CHL lead, so few kids his age were able to keep up with Perfetti’s numbers at five-aside.
Since Perfetti is so confident with the puck, he’s not afraid to let his creative side show. It’s not uncommon for him to make a behind-the-back pass and make it stick because his goal-scoring nature allows him to predict where others around him will go to finish off a play. He’s by no means a one-trick-pony: sometimes, he’ll forego a simple pass to a rushing defenseman to instead set up a defender and use it as a way of moving towards the net himself to pick up a rebound or make a future pass. In times where he’s outnumbered, Perfetti will play mind games with defense to drag them out of position – he’s always a main talking point for opposing coaches – as long as it means it helps out the team around him.
You can’t help but adore Perfetti’s power-play prowess. When you give him the extra space and time to work with, he’ll unleash his accurate wrist shot, he’ll find a way to make it work. Perfetti’s 19 primary points with the mad advantage were good for fifth in the OHL among draft-eligible prospects, but he also finished second among shorthanded points with four – two goals and two assists. He did most of his damage to the right of the net, shooting directly around the right faceoff dot without much competition around him. Teams started to adjust and hung a winger near Perfetti’s hotspot, but he often got his shots off quick enough to capitalize on the extra room.
Circling back to the skating front, Perfetti has good footwork and can make plays at a good speed, but his overall skating needs work. He doesn’t have a high top speed and will sometimes be caught standing still and watching the action around him. He’s good in spurts and can handle himself in stop-start situations quite nicely, and he can use his feet to avoid getting hit along the boards, but his lack of high-end speed is what bounces him down a few notches despite his strong offensive numbers. Perfetti’s skating is by no means a detriment to his overall skill level, but it isn’t at the point now where he can use it to his advantage just yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if he needs a year in the AHL following major junior to help work on that, but he’s got a good foundation to build around and should improve under NHL coaching.
Perfetti’s defensive game isn’t a standout quality, but it doesn’t need to be. Perfetti doesn’t have the size to throw a big hit and can be beaten in front of the net by a stronger opponent, but Perfetti, at the very least, can use his smart decision-making to fool the other team’s forwards and pick off a pass somewhere in the middle of the zone. Again, there are times where I’d like to see him get more engaged, but he wants the puck at all times, so he’ll typically find a way to retrieve it.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton Oilers
A scout gave me this comparison at the start of the season, and as the year went on, it quickly became clear why. Neither are big centermen, both came from a high-scoring background but eventually improved their play-making game and creativity isn’t an issue. According to Byron Bader’s Hockey Prospecting tool, Perfetti had the draft-year NHLe edge with 45 points over Nugent-Hopkins’ 38, and I personally think Perfetti is more gifted with the puck, so expect many 65-75-point runs in Perfetti’s future.
This prospect report was written by Steven Ellis. If you would like to follow Steven on Twitter, his handle is @StevenEllisNHL.
Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.
Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!