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NHL Mock Draft 2020: New Jersey Devils Select Cole Perfetti with No. 7 Pick

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The New Jersey Devils have three first round picks, which also means three picks in the annual SB Nation NHL Mock Draft. With the first one, we selected center Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. This post contains our reasoning and why he was picked ahead of others.

2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
In the 2020 SBNation NHL Mock Draft, the #7 pick for New Jersey went to Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Yesterday, we provided our internal mock draft of the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft. All three of the first round picks were chosen by the staff with Brian selecting picks for the other teams. Parallel to that effort, the managing editors of all of the team blogs at SB Nation got together to perform our annual mock draft. This mock draft would go differently with different people with different perspectives choosing prospects for their respective teams. And it did as Marco Rossi - our staff’s first pick in the internal mock draft - was taken before it was time for All About the Jersey to pick at seventh overall. Our first of three picks in the first round went to Cole Perfetti, center for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.

Back in early April, Gerard wrote this profile about Cole Perfetti. He described Perfetti as a forward that would fill a need for the Devils. I have to agree. Per Gerard’s profile, a lot of people who have watched and scouted Perfetti highlights his intelligence on the ice, his creativity on and off the puck, and his offensive skills. His production backs up the praise. Perfetti was an absolutely fantastic producer for Saginaw in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season. Not only did he finish second in the entire league with 111 points, but his 37 goals and 74 (!!!) assists were 31 points higher than the second-highest scorer on the Spirit. According to Pick224, only four players averaged at least one primary (goal and primary assist) point per game and 1.39 even strength points per game among 2020 draft eligible players: Lafreniere, Rossi, Byfield, and Perfetti. That is a remarkable group of forwards to be a part of. There is no shortage of highlights from his season with Saginaw and they are worth a watch.

Perfetti also demonstrated his finishing and playmaking skills at the international level too. At the 2020 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup last August by leading the entire tourney in goals with eight (!) along with four assists to also lead it in points. Keep in mind that the Under-18 tourney is only five games; he dazzled so brightly in a short amount of time. That tourney did help get some additional eyeballs on Perfetti for this draft and his continued rate of scoring at the OHL has kept his name high among scouts as a potential top-ten selection.

If there is an issue with Perfetti, then it is with his skating. He is mobile and can maneuver well in tight spaces. The most common concern is that he takes time to get up to speed - and that speed is not especially fast. It is common on players entering pro hockey, especially in the NHL, to discover how fast it is. While Perfetti’s mind for the game may keep up with it, his body may struggle unless he improves those first couple strides when he has to go forward. Then again, being an intelligent enough player to know where he should be and anticipate play to guide him to where he goes can help mitigate those issues. Even with improvements to his first strides as a skater, expecting him to fly down the ice regularly may be too much.

That said, as Gerard explained in his prospect profile, no prospect is perfect and what Perfetti can bring to the table is more than enough to help the Devils in the future. While Perfetti played center at Saginaw, it possible he can be shifted to wing and still contribute quite a bit with his shot, vision, hockey sense, and offensive skills. I happen to agree with Gerard on that point. Some of the best drafted forwards in Devils history were picked as centers, shifted to wing at the NHL level, went on to be excellent wingers and important players such as Petr Sykora, Patrik Elias (he played center later in his career), and Zach Parise. Should Perfetti move to wing, I would expect him to be a left winger as he has a left-handed shot and the OHL website lists him as one. Based on his faceoff stats, it appears he shifted to center for Saginaw in 2019-20 and played mostly wing in his rookie season in 2018-19. Whether his NHL future has him in the middle or out wide remains to be seen, but the point remains that Perfetti has the talent and the upside to provide a lot of points for his future team.

Either way, the Devils can absolutely use more offensive talent and the cheapest way to add high-end offensive players is to draft them. Picking Perfetti would be a great fit for New Jersey, and that is mianly why he was the pick in the 2020 SBN NHL Draft.

Other Options at #7 in the 2020 SBN Mock Draft

The choice for the #7 pick in the 2020 SBN Mock Draft really came down to Perfetti and Alexander Holtz. I will briefly go over other players that were briefly considered before that choice of forwards.

  • Yaroslav Askarov has the most outstanding resume for a draft eligible goaltender in a long time. He is now starting games for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL and he was already a star of the week in the league’s short season so far. Taking a goaltender is akin to a lottery ticket with a big jackpot. If you win, then you’re going to reap a lot of rewards. If you lose, you wasted your money. I still think taking a goaltender at #7 is too high. I doubt he will still be available for the other two Devils’ picks.
  • Jake Sanderson has been a rising prospect among the consensus-makers in the public sphere for prospects. I did a prospect profile on Sanderson. While I like the player, I do not have a lot of faith in his upside to be worth taking over forwards in the group of Raymond, Rossi, Perfetti, and Holtz. I think he will have a very long NHL career of being a solid defenseman, but I do not see him as a massive difference maker or someone who potentially could be a star. At seventh overall, the Devils should be swinging bigger for players with more potential than Sanderson.
  • Anton Lundell strikes me as the forward version of Sanderson. There is a lot to like but I do not think he has the offensive upside to be a potential first-line scoring forward. At this part of the draft, the Devils should be aiming for those players since they will be available.
  • Of note, the first six picks in this mock draft: Lafreniere, Byfield, Raymond, Stutzle, Rossi, and Drysdale. So the choice really came down to Perfetti and Holtz.

There is a lot to like about Alexander Holtz. Much about his game would check a lot of boxes for the Devils like Perfetti would with his game. Holtz arguably has the best shot in the entire draft class. Holtz is a very smart player as well. Holtz has the capability of making very good plays with the puck to support his teammates. Holtz also had the benefit of playing mostly in the SHL in 2019-20 as opposed to the Under-20 Superelit league, so he has experienced plenty in pro hockey already. Holtz is a right winger and the Devils can absolutely use a scoring winger in the system. Holtz even has concerns about his skating and how quickly he can get up to speed. I like Holtz a lot. I would be happy if the Devils drafted Holtz in real life. I can totally understand if you think the mock draft pick should have been Holtz over Perfetti.

However, two points gave Perfetti the edge is the fact that Perfetti. First, Holtz’s shot selection was not the most ideal. This was best identified by Will Scouch in his video profile of Holtz, where he showed how he often shot outside of the scoring chance area. While Scouch points out that Holtz’s shot is so good to make that work, it is something that needs to be worked on. For Holtz (or any future scoring forward) to succeed at the next level, then he needs to understand and work to get in closer. If he can do that, then he can score a ton of goals. If he struggles, then his abilities will not be as effective. Second, Perfetti is actually more of a play maker than Holtz, who strikes me as someone who is all about firing away. I know “playmaker” is usually code for “player who makes passes/gets a lot of assists.” In the true sense of the term, a proper playmaker knows when the best move is to fire it away and have the skills to make it work. Between the two, I think that fits Perfetti much more tan Holtz. I also think the player who knows to make plays happen in that truer sense will translate to the NHL a bit better than the one who can fire away. Those two points helped tip the scales in Perfetti’s direction over Holtz.

Your Take

Again, I can totally understand if you disagree and you think the pick should have been Holtz. I would be happy if the Devils picked Holtz in real life. This is just the reasoning as to why Perfetti was picked ahead of Holtz for the seventh overall pick in the 2020 SBN NHL Mock Draft. Either way, the pick will be for one of the most offensively talented forwards in the 2020 NHL Draft Class outside of the top two names of Lafreniere and Byfield.

I encourage you to give us your take on our mock draft pick. Who would you have picked at seventh overall after Lafreniere, Byfield, Raymond, Stutzle, Rossi, and Drysdale? Would you have also picked Perfetti? Would have went with Holtz instead? Or perhaps someone else entirely? Why? Please let us know in the comments and/or even vote in our poll. We will find out what the Devils will do with their seventh overall pick in the actual 2020 NHL Entry Draft on October 6. Thank you for reading.

Post-script: Check out the 2020 SBN NHL Draft hub for coverage throughout the network for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Poll

Our first pick in the 2020 SBN NHL Mock Draft is Cole Perfetti. Do you agree with our pick?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Yes.
    (120 votes)
  • 39%
    No, it should have been Holtz.
    (93 votes)
  • 10%
    No, it should have been someone else (specify in comments).
    (24 votes)
237 votes total Vote Now