In this week’s column we continue our march toward the NHL Draft in June. Editor in Chief, Ryan Wagman provides an overview and notes on ten prospects eligible in 2020 on the USNTDP U18 team. While it is not the powerhouse team of 2019 which delivered eight first round selections, but it is deep and full of promising prospects.
Brock Otten provides a detailed look at gifted sniper Jacob Perreault out of the OHL, currently ranked 21st on our mid-season ranking found here. Already on scouts watch lists, Perreault grabbed the community's attention after surprising dominating performance in the skating events at the CHL Top Prospects Game.
Last week we introduced a running list of the 2020 NHL Draft prospects we have already covered in our weekly column for NBC/Rotoworld with links to those columns. They can be found at the end of the article. The McKeen’s team are in rinks around the world scouting, analyzing and writing about prospects on www. mckeenshockey.com. Enjoy.
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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues Tuesday with a clash between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders. Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here!
2020 NHL DRAFT PROSPECT
2019-20 Stats: Sarnia Sting (OHL) 47GP-31G-27A-58PTS
By Brock Otten
Every year at the CHL Top Prospect’s Game, participating prospects are put through, both, on and off ice tests similar to what you would see at the combine. Heading into the event, many scouts were expecting Windsor’s Jean Luc Foudy to dominate the skating events, as the former track star (and brother to Columbus first round pick Liam) is dynamic in this regard. Yet, it was Sarnia’s Jacob Perreault that took home that honor. Perreault finished first in the 30M forward skate (with and without the puck), first in reaction time, first in weave agility with the puck, second in weave agility without the puck, and third in transition agility with the puck. Those who watch Perreault regularly will tell you that his skating ability is strong. Yet, these results were surprising because this type of explosive dominance has not yet translated to his game full time.
Perreault, the son of former NHL player Yanic, is firmly entrenched in the first round of most scouting agencies, including us at McKeen’s Hockey (21st at midseason), and with good reason. As a 16-year-old OHL rookie last year, Perreault hit the prestigious 30 goal mark, something only Arthur Kaliyev, Cole Perfetti, Alex Galchenyuk, and Matt Puempel have accomplished in the last ten years. He has improved upon that production this year, averaging well over a point per game and trailing only Cole Perfetti, Quinton Byfield, and Tyson Foerster in points per game among U18 players in the Ontario Hockey League. While the Sting are not winning many games (they find themselves in last place in the Western Conference), Perreault has performed well and is making a consistent appearance on the score sheet.
At the heart of Perreault’s game is his speed and creativity with the puck. He loves to lead the attack and be the one with the puck on his stick as the Sting push across the blueline. He backs down defenders with his ability to create in transition and he has the puck skill to create additional space for himself. Perreault also has a great shot and release which he can use while in full stride or when cutting to the middle. His goal scoring instincts are excellent without the puck and the puck seems to follow him in the offensive zone because of his anticipation and awareness.
However, his game does not come without some question marks. This summer, Perreault was a surprising cut from the Canadian Hlinka/Gretzky team, despite a strong performance offensively at the camp. This likely had to do with Perreault’s play in the other two zones. His play without the puck can leave some to be desired, as effort and awareness on the backcheck is quite inconsistent. Growth is definitely required of him as a two-way player. Additionally, Perreault can be prone to turnovers in the neutral zone that cost his team. His puck management and decision making will need to improve.
With the Sting likely to miss the playoffs, that should open up Perreault to be a go to player on this year’s Canadian U18 team. After missing the Hlinka/Gretzky, this will be great for Perreault to showcase his offensive abilities on a larger stage. With his skating ability, creativity, offensive skill set, and strong bloodlines, Perreault is tracking towards a possible Top 20 selection in June and could conceivably be a future top six fixture at the NHL level.
PROSPECTS IN THE NEWS – U18 US NATIONAL TEAM DEEP WITH 2020 NHL DRAFT GEMS
By Ryan Wagman
The Under-18 version of the USNTDP played four games in four days last week (Feb. 6-9) in the Czech Republic, as part of one of the Five Nations championships that dot the annual schedule.
In a mostly low-scoring affair, they beat the hosts 3-2 in overtime, beat Russia by the same score, but in regulation, and then knocked off Sweden 5-2 in a relative blowout. Unfortunately, the team’s momentum could not carry on in the final against Finland, which they lost 3-1, the last goal being an empty netter.
This year’s USNTDP seems to be in the process of being underrated, as the squad is not as strong as last year’s version. Not that that should be a slight on this year’s roster. The class of 2019 saw eight members get selected in the first round and all but three draft eligible regulars on the rosters were drafted.
While this year’s version will likely only see between one and three players taken on day one of the draft, that does not mean the team is not worth keeping a close eye on throughout the season. As always, the program is full of talented young players, who combine skill with hockey sense more than most teams in junior hockey ever do.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a bit in this space about young stud blueliner Jake Sanderson (who all scouts I have talked to agree with me that he is a first round lock) and Ty Smilanic, who also has a good chance of hearing his name called on Day One in Montreal. Today, I will take smaller looks at an additional 10 players likely to be drafted from the team this year.* Also, Sanderson was fantastic at the Five Nations, scoring three times in the four game set, but I want to share the love this time.
*That means that forwards Matthew Beniers and Hunter Strand will not be mentioned. Those young men have late 2002 birthdates and will not be draft eligible until 2021.
Stats cited are from the Five Nations tourney only
Brett Berard, LW (4-0-1-1-4)
Other than size (5-9”, 152), Berard has it all. Although he had a quiet week in the Czech Republic (1 A), he has torn it up domestically and currently leads the U18s in scoring in USHL play. His puck skills and vision are both high end and his hands are dazzlingly quick. He skates well and plays responsibly up and down the ice, keeping his feet moving in all three zones. He is the player you want on a breakaway from this team.
Thomas Bordeleau, C (4-1-5-6-2)
If Berard is your first choice in the shootout, Bordeleau is the next man on my list. Slightly more solidly built than the aforementioned winger, Bordeleau play at center or the wing and brings excitement to ever shift, although his own zone game is not as strong. He is very creative and has a fantastic shot with speed, heft, and a quick trigger. While more solidly built than Berard, Bordeleau is still lacking in size.
Tyler Kleven, D (4-0-1-1-6)
A big blueliner with a bigger shot, Kleven has some supporters who think he is a first-round talent, despite being better known for his defensive acumen. He skates quite well for his size and has the strength and demeanor to be a force along the boards. He plays a physical game, but also knows when to use his long reach to poke pucks away from opponents and his positioning also helps to prevent chances from ever developing.
Eamon Powell, D (4-0-0-0-2)
Whereas Kleven fits an old school mold for the blueline, Powell is 100% new school. The sub-6-0” right-handed shot plays with great pace, helping all of the tools in his drawer play up. He is a very good skater and a slick puck handler who looks great carrying the puck from end to end. He plays stronger than his size and works to remain on the right side of the puck at both ends. He is currently recovering from a shoulder injury.
Landon Slaggert, C (4-3-0-3-2)
The first impression Slaggert imparts is of a high energy grinder. He plays rough and sees plenty of ice on the PK. The more I watch, the more layers in his game I see. He has soft hands and is capable of some creative puck play and of preparing some juicy dishes for his linemates. He also does everything at a high pace, making him the type that will force errors from opponents. You love him when he is on your team and hate him if he lines up on the opposite side of the ice.
Dylan Peterson, RW (4-1-1-2-10)
A big man who skates fairly well, Peterson has pretty much all of the tools you want to see in a bottom six player, with just enough to suggest he could hold his own as a puck retrieval specialist on a top six line with a pair of skill players. He plays with impressive defensive conscience and uses his big frame very well in neutralizing threats near the points and along the boards. He moves pucks quickly and has the soft hands needed to make something happen when the puck lands on his stick.
Luke Tuch, LW (4-1-2-3-4)
The simplest thing to do would be to read the blurb on Peterson above, but as a left winger instead of the right side. That wouldn’t be entirely accurate though Tuch has a similar build and is similarly tough to play against. Tuch, whose older brother Alex plays for Vegas, has more of an offensive bent to his game, with puck skills that are a bit more refined, and a shot that is a bit harder to handle, and he is slightly less of a disruptive presence in his own zone. I personally have a slight preference (vis-à-vis the draft) for Peterson, but it’s very close.
Drew Commesso, G (3- 1.97 GAA – 0.928 SV%)
An athletic netminder with reasonable size (6-2, 180) for the modern game, Commesso can look almost explosive going from post to post. He plays a mature style, limiting dangerous looking rebounds. He is calm in traffic and has a sharp glove hand. He is also the type of goalie who likes playing the puck up the ice. The gap between Commesso and backup Noah Grannan isn’t as big as last year between Spencer Knight and Cameron Rowe, but it is palpable.
Jacob Truscott, D (4-0-1-1-6)
I am sure that other observers would name someone like Brock Faber as their #4 on this squad after Sanderson, Kleven, and Powell, but give me Truscott. The Michigan commit is an above average skater with speed, edges and plus four-way movement. He is a talented puck mover who can play with an edge when required. He is calm on the puck and has a knack for getting himself open for a pass in the offensive zone to keep the play going. He is still somewhat raw, but the upside shouldn’t be ignored.
Chase Yoder, C (4-0-0-0-2)
On a team lacking flash, Yoder is the perfect representation. He plays an aggressive game, with great skating, highlighted by a notable first few steps. Yoder is the program’s top penalty killer among forwards. He can show decent touch on exit passes to begin the transition when he doesn’t have a lane available to him to carry the puck with speed himself. On the other hand, the Texan lacks the offensive toolkit to ever be more than a responsible fourth line plug and play type. There is value in that, just like with the rest of the program.
PAST ROTOWORLD MCKEEN’S 2020 NHL DRAFT PROSPECT REPORTS – In our weekly columns we cover an NHL Draft prospect. Check out what we have written to date here listed by our most recent ranking.
#1 Alexis Lafreniere (October 15th, 2019)
#2 Quinton Byfield (October 8th, 2019)
#3 Tim Stutzle (January 21st, 2020)
#4 Lucas Raymond (October 8th, 2019)
#5 Alexander Holtz (October 15th, 2019)
#6 Jamie Drysdale (October 29th, 2019)
#7 Marco Rossi (November 19th, 2019)
#8 Cole Perfetti (October 22nd, 2019)
#9 Connor Zary (November 5th, 2019)
#10 Jake Sanderson (January 28th, 2020)
#11 Anton Lundell (October 22nd, 2019)
#12 Yaroslav Askarov (November 5th, 2019)
#13 Rodion Amarov (February 4th, 2020)
#14 Noel Gunler (January 14th, 2020)
#15 Dawson Mercer (January 7th, 2020)
#16 Jack Quinn (December 17th, 2019):
#17 Dylan Holloway (November 12th, 2019)
#18 Kaiden Guhle + #19 Braden Schneider (February 4th, 2020)
#21 Jacob Perreault (February 11th) - Today
#27 Ty Smilanic (January 28th, 2020)
#29 Emil Andrae (November 26th, 2019)
#32 Hendrix Lapierre (December 3rd, 2019)
#57 Michael Benning (December 10th, 2019)