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NHL Mock Draft 2020: New Jersey Devils Select Jacob Perreault with No. 20 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 third one, we selected right winger Jacob Perreault of the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. This post contains our reasoning as to why he was picked.

Sarnia Sting v Windsor Spitfires
With the third and final pick in the 2020 SBN NHL Mock Draft, the Devils pick Jacob Perreault of the Sarnia Sting.
Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

On Thursday, we revealed our internal site mock draft of the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft. On Friday, we revealed our first of three first round picks in the SBNation 2020 NHL Mock Draft: Cole Perfetti. Earlier today, we revealed our second of three first round picks in the SBNation 2020 NHL Mock Draft, Rodion Amirov. Now it is time to reveal the third and final selection from the network-wide mock draft. At twentieth overall, we selected from the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, right winger Jacob Perreault.

Devin wrote this profile about Perreault back in April. The concerns and frustrations about Perreault are real. Defensively, he is not that sharp. It did not help at all that Sarnia as a team was bad at that aspect of the game. There are times where one has to wonder about the work ethic both on and off the ice. I get it. These are issues that any team will have to work with him to address. He will need to ultimately want to change those things to make it in pro hockey at all. However, I absolutely think the effort to do so is not only possible but absolutely worth it for the Devils to take him on.

Perreault’s skills alone would warrant this. His skating is an asset. He can be quick, he skates smoothly, and he can weave through traffic well enough. While he is not large, he can win pucks in battles along the boards and facilitate offense. Perreault is more than a shooter. However, being a shooter is absolutely Perreault’s best role. His shot release is among the best in the draft class. Whether he is in tight or from distance, he can wire pucks to the net. For those who want a shooting right winger, then Perreault has the skills you would want in one.

He also has the production to back up the skills. Perreault is a two-time 30+ goal scorer in the OHL. He scored 30 in 2018-19 as a 16-year old with 22 coming at even strength. The only 2020 draft eligible players who scored more even strength goals than Perreault in 2018-19 were Dylan Holloway, Cole Perfetti, Alexis Lafreniere, Alexander Holtz, Dawson Mercer, and Quinton Byfield per Pick224. That is an excellent group of forwards to be a part of as they will all be drafted in the first round. A 17-year old Perreault improved on that in 2019-20 with 24 even strength goals and 39 goals in all situations. Again, those who outscored him among even strength goals consists of a who’s who of this draft class and only five players scored more than 39 total goals in their respective leagues. While production is not everything, you want to see future scoring wingers to have it to backup their skillset. Perreault has been doing so since breaking into the OHL in 2018, which is very encouraging for the future. Being productive prior to your draft eligible year adds confidence to a player’s production being more than just a function of being with better players or a strong system. It is a big reason why his odds for making it as a NHL player are better than most other potential players available at this range of the draft, per Brian’s post last week.

Earlier in this mock draft, we chose Perfetti at seventh overall and Amirov at eighteenth overall. Both are very smart and skilled forwards who could contribute quite a lot at the NHL level one day. However, while both are good at shooting the puck, Perreault has a better release and could be that high-shooting winger at the next level. It will take some time, maturity, and an effort from the young player to be more consistent with it. A stronger Sarnia team may facilitate some of that too. But those are areas that can be taught. Perreault’s shot is not one that you can teach. That makes him worth the risk in my view.

Other Options at #20 in the 2020 SBN Mock Draft

As the previous post listed the other options for 18th overall and Calgary took defenseman Jeremie Porier, those names remained the same. So instead of going through each one on their own, I will explain why Perreault was picked over each.

One could argue a lot of the same things that can be said about Perreault could be stated about Noel Gunler. Gunler does have the advantage of being a bit bigger and having played in a men’s league for parts of 2019-20. He does not have the advantage of having played in a much more physically demanding league. The knocks on Gunler’s consistency can be tied to how he was not as involved as he could have been at the SHL. If he wants to stick to the perimeter there, then what will happen on smaller rinks with larger and more physically aggressive players in North America? At least Perreault goes in for battles and knows the rink size. That stated, it is a close call between the two players so if you preferred to see Gunler at 20 instead of Perreault, then I would understand.

Other forwards that could have been taken here include Dylan Holloway and Marat Khusnutdinov. Like Perreault, Holloway’s team was bad and that reflected poorly on him. Unlike Perreault, Holloway did not really contribute as much as you would have liked to have seen in 2019-20 to support what his skills suggest he could become. Plus, Holloway could stand to be a better finisher of plays - something else where Perreault excels. Between the two types, I would rather take the chance on Perreault as a scoring winger. Khusnutdinov has a great set of skills himself and the more you read and see from him, there is more to like. However, whereas Perreault needs to learn to be more assertive and consistent with his work ethic, Khusnutdinov’s body and strength may hold him back in spite of his work ethic. They are both interesting options, but I would prefer Perreault over either.

The big question is why Perreault and not a defenseman. After taking two forwards in this mock, why not take a defenseman? Don’t the Devils need defensemen in their system? As much as I understand that, I do not have a lot belief in the defensemen available at this point of the mock draft. The Devils loaded up on defensive minded defenders with large frames in 2019 and added Kevin Bahl. I can agree that Braden Schneider or Kaiden Guhle may have a better chance of making it than any of those players. But if they do, I really doubt they are going to be the blueline leaders the Devils really do need for the future. And it is not enough to be a primarily one-dimensional defensemen, the supposed #1 and #2 defensemen need to be contributing at both ends of the rink. While Schneider and Guhle can probably help start breakouts and support offensive attacks, there is very little to show that they can make a significant impact at both ends of the rink. With Perreault, there is a real possibility he can be significant scorer at the NHL level. The Devils can absolutely use that as much as they need defenders. I would rather take the chance on the winger in this case than the future second-pairing solid hand who we can all appreciate but know will not be the top guy on the blueline the Devils need to figure out. By the way, they need to figure that out now and the answer for 2020-21 is not likely in this draft class.

What about other defensemen? It is not that great after Schneider and Guhle from the position of selecting 20th overall. I do not think Helge Grans is all that impressive; Emil Andrade may as well be the opposite of Schneider and Guhle and not necessarily in a good way; Ryan O’Rourke is somewhat similar to Schneider and Guhle regarding their projection; and I think Topi Niemela would be too big of a reach at 20th overall. If William Wallinder was available in this mock draft, then that is a different conversation. I think highly of Wallinder’s potential. He has the offensive skills plus the big frame some fans think is so important plus the young age means he has a lot to grow into. He would be a project but one worth taking on. I would consider taking Wallinder ahead of Perreault. But Toronto took him in the SBN Mock Draft, so that choice was not possible. If I needed to take one of the other defenders in this mock, then I would see about trading down first. But rather than do that, I figured the potential scoring winger would be a great addition to the two very smart forwards with great hands and offensive skills taken in this mock draft.

Your Take

The third and final pick in the 2020 SBN NHL Mock Draft was for right winger Jacob Perreault. His shot is fantastic. His offensive skills are true. He can move well. He just needs to get better defensively and put in more effort consistently. There is some work to be done, but I think the work is totally worth it given Perreault’s offensive potential. I can totally understand if you disagree and you think the pick should have been someone else. Feel free to explain who and why in the comments.

I encourage you to give us your take on our mock draft pick. Who would you have picked at twentieth overall in the SBN Mock Draft if it was up to you? If you would have picked someone else, then who would you pick and 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 twentieth overall pick in the actual 2020 NHL Entry Draft on October 6. Thank you for reading.

Poll

Our third pick in the 2020 SBN NHL Mock Draft is Jacob Perreault. Do you agree with our pick?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Yes.
    (42 votes)
  • 44%
    No, it should have been someone else (specify in comments).
    (33 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now