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Cole Perfetti: 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Sharpshooting Forward that Would Fill a Need

The New Jersey Devils still have a need for offensively gifted players in their system. One prospect available to draft this year that could help address that need is Cole Perfetti.

2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The NHL Draft continues to approach (hopefully in one form or another) and as such we continue to look today at players who are either highly regarded or could fill a need for the New Jersey Devils. Today’s player does both, as he’s projected to be an early first round choice, and additionally he’s known as a goal scorer. He plays both center and left wing, and the Devils could use scoring wingers, so let’s take some time to get to know Cole Perfetti today.

Who is Cole Perfetti?

Perfetti is a young center/left winger who stands at 5’10” and currently weighs in at 185 pounds according to his profile at Elite Prospects, which puts him close to or at NHL ready size. He was born in Whitby, Ontario, Canada on January 1, 2002, and went through their AAA system. His OHL career began just a season ago in 2018-19 with the Saginaw Spirit, whom he currently plays for to this day.

In his time with Saginaw, Perfetti has registered 37 goals twice; his jump in assists (from 37 to 74) and overall points (from 74 to 111) saw him contending for the OHL scoring lead prior to the season’s abrupt end for now at least. He’s performed well at every level he’s played at so far, and doesn’t seem to struggle to find the back of the net; that facet of his game could make him an attractive choice for the New Jersey Devils.

Where is Cole Perfetti Ranked?

Perfetti isn’t in a unanimous position by any means, but in all cases, he does fall outside of the Lafreniere/Byfield tier. That doesn’t mean that he’s not a high upside player, as many outlets listed below envision him as an early round choice:

NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters) - #4 (Midterm Rank)

HockeyProspect - #4 (January)

ISS - #6 (March)

EliteProspects - #6 (February)

Future Considerations - #9 (March)

McKeen’s Hockey - #8 (Midseason)

Looking over the six above rankings, if you want to take a rough average of his placement, Perfetti winds up being estimated to go sixth overall. And just who happens to currently own that sixth overall pick if we go by current NHL standings? Oh that’s right; our New Jersey Devils.

In seriousness, Perfetti could be a Top 5 choice, and the Devils might have to look elsewhere come draft day. It all boils down to GM preference, and who to believe about the player’s game. Thankfully, as a projected high pick, there’s a good amount being said (and to be seen) of Cole Perfetti.

What Others Say About Cole Perfetti

Today starts with writer Mike Morreale in his most recent Top 31 prospects ranking, where he had Perfetti at sixth overall. While the blurb is short, it does mention a few noteworthy details that can help to understand what Perfetti can bring to a team:

A skilled left-hander with high hockey IQ, compete and a great shot, Perfetti ranks second in the OHL with 104 points (36 goals, 68 assists) in 58 games. He has 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) during a nine-game point streak.

Obviously the article is a bit dated (both due to stoppage and Perfetti adding seven more points in three games that followed), but the first line gives three positives. High hockey IQ should never be shied away from; the smarter a player is, the more likely he is to find success at any level. The fact that his compete does not need to be questioned is another welcome addition, and as I alluded to earlier, the Devils need guys that aren’t afraid to shoot the puck.

Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet had his own 2020 prospect ranking post back at the start of February. Perfetti AGAIN came in sixth overall with Cosentino having this to say:

Creativity and offensive zone awareness complement elite goal-scoring acumen. Post-world junior camp assault on the OHL scoring title continues – he’s now just three points behind Rossi for the league lead.

Again, we have to deal with things being dated at this point, but the same mention of his goal scoring ability (going so far as to call it elite) has to be an encouraging sign for anyone hoping to see Perfetti in red and black. The team needs goal scorers plain and simple, and if the Devils can put Cole on the left side of one of their talented young centers, it could be a recipe for years of future success.

Additionally on the side of things, Guillaume Lepage published a longer article with quotes from Perfetti himself back in November. It also gives us the brilliant nicknames of “Goal” Perfetti and Cole “Perfectti” that while Cole himself claims not to be comfortable with yet, he may have to be if he becomes a prolific NHL scorer.

Tony Ferrari of Dobber Prospects published his insight on Perfetti’s game back at the end of January. In this section, he ranked him as a “Tier 5” prospect for this draft, but only because Tiers 1-3 were occupied by one player each. Ferrari’s rankings would see Perfetti fall beyond this sixth pick, and he offered this justification as to why he’s placed here:

Perfetti, on the other hand, struggled to put the puck in the net initially this season after a Hlinka-Gretzky Cup that saw him tear the world apart with his goal-scoring. He’s rebounded quite nicely in that department though, currently sitting at 24 on the year. Where he has taken his game to the next level is in the playmaking department.

I discussed the assist jump for Perfetti this season, and it’s good to see that according to Ferrari it’s because of improved play, not necessarily improved teammates. Additionally, Perfetti did add thirteen more goals to his total after the end of January, so it reflects positively to me that he played through his struggles and came out still scoring after an early drought.

A Little Video

First we have a highlight package of Perfetti at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament:

Cole shows his smarts in this video, as he consistently puts himself in good position to score, and he’s rewarded many times as seen in the video. If you don’t want to watch the entire video, skip ahead to 2:52, as the deke and finish on that goal are top notch. You can truly see his puck control and his creativity on that goal. If you’re more interested in his shot release, start with the goal at 0:48.

Next we have an OHL highlight package:

I won’t say much here, as I like to let the videos speak for themselves, as I feel they are the best way for someone to form their own opinion about a player. I will add that there are some NICE goals being scored here, and you don’t even need to watch more than a minute’s worth of film to see just how good of a goal scorer this kid is at the junior level. With some of his puck making decisions, I could easily see these skills translating to the NHL level.

An Opinion of Sorts

Cole Perfetti isn’t a perfect prospect, but who is? We’ve seen players drafted first overall that have busted and players come from late rounds to be NHL superstars. That all being said, I do think Perfetti has a good mix of tools that could make him a successful player in this league for a long time. The fact that he doesn’t seem to hesitate to shoot, and that he is known for being a goal scorer to the point of at least one writer calling him “elite” should make him an attractive choice for the Devils.

His creativity, offensive awareness, compete level, and hockey IQ are also described as being great assets of his. If he’s able to take all of the tools and put them together in the toolbox, he could pan out as a prolific scorer winger (if not a center, but I just don’t see it with Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes in the fold), and right now Jersey’s Team is hurting for prospects who can fill that boat. I personally would be happy to see the Devils take him at six, as it seems likely that he’s taken in that area, and he fills an immediate organizational need. I know people will say defense should be the priority, and if a defender such as Jamie Drysdale is still on the board at six, maybe the Devils go in that direction. There does seem to be a drop-off from Drysdale to the next best defender though, so if he’s gone, the Devils should take a winger such as Perfetti.

I’m slightly concerned that his skating isn’t spoken about at all from what I’ve read. At the same time, no one is speaking of it as a detriment, and from the videos I’ve watched, he seems to possess above average speed. Usually when a player’s skating is a concern, it gets discussed, so the fact that it isn’t being must simply mean it’s not as great of a strength as the other facets of his game that are more readily apparent. Perfetti may not be blowing opponents away with speed, but he’s so smart with knowing where he needs to be on the ice that he beats opponents with his positioning.

Your Take

Now we’d like to hear your thoughts on Cole Perfetti as a prospect; is he someone you would like to see in red and black? Do you think the Devils take him if he’s available at six, or should they be trying to take a defender? If he slips to later in the first round, and the Devils are choosing again, does he become a more attractive option? Leave any and all comments and thoughts below and thanks as always for reading!