Jets’ Perfetti chomping at the bit as prospects camp opens, training camp looms


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Wherever he is, whatever he does out there and when he does it, Winnipeg Jets forward Cole Perfetti is committed to being ready to help the team win.

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On the surface, this is a standard rate. A qualified prospect is eager to be on the opening day list. Go figure it out.

But unlike most 19-year-olds from the Canadian Hockey League, Perfetti isn’t coming out of a dominant junior season, one that often looks great on paper but doesn’t necessarily translate well into professional play. .

No.

Instead, Perfetti just finished a season that included a silver medal with Team Canada at the world juniors, 32 games with the Manitoba Moose against men, and finding a way to score nine times and rack up. 26 points, then set sail for the 2021 IIHF World Championships playing, once again, against a host of pros and scoring twice in 10 games.

At the very least, Perfetti has shown he can keep up with the big boys, if not match them stride for stride sometimes.

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“It was a very good year of development for me last year,” Perfetti said on day one of the professional minicamp in Winnipeg on Thursday. “I only came to play junior hockey, a little bit smaller and all year round… when I arrived, I had never played against men, and throughout the year I had got that experience in corners, along walls, all that sort of thing. , I saw myself evolving over the (32) matches I played.

“I was a lot stronger in the corners, in puck battles, in faceoffs and stuff like that. I just saw myself evolve and become a better player in this short period. “

Perfetti admitted at the end of last season that he was further ahead than he thought he was.

With his newfound knowledge, he started the summer by seeking to refine what he had learned playing in the American Hockey League, a chance he had been given thanks to the pandemic, and the Ontario Hockey League. , where Perfetti played with the Saginaw Spirit, closing for the entire 2020-21 season.

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“Obviously, speed is a big leap from junior to pro. Even from the (AHL) to the NHL, it’s a big leap. Speed ​​is one thing, ”Perfetti said. “But I’m thinking of the overall strength and battles with the puck. It is enough to experience it to improve. No matter how hard you work out in the gym, how strong you are off the ice, you have to try to feel it a little bit on the ice, in the corners, on the wall and stuff like that.

Perfetti’s mental maturity seems far beyond his years, but his physical maturity is something that, at least in part, is at the mercy of time. He wants to be strong, of course. Heavier on the pucks too, and more dominant in the faceoff point.

The good news for the Whitby, Ont., Native is that he will be able to continue that upward trend as a pro this year, either through a scintillating training camp that earns him a place in the big league, or by returning to the Moose, which will be an option despite his age.

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Normally, CHL rules would require Perfetti to play for the Jets or return to Saginaw. But a deal between the NHL and the CHL, while not officially announced, will allow 19-year-olds who played 20 or more games in the AHL last season to return to their respective team’s farming club. .

It’s a big boon, both for Perfetti and the Jets, in terms of player development.

Part of Perfetti’s commitment to do anything, anytime, and anywhere eventually means playing on the wing in the NHL. The big club’s squad is currently saturated with center players, with Mark Scheifele, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Adam Lowry and Paul Stastny eager and able to play the role. David Gustafsson, a capable center in his own right, will also make an effort this coming season, and Maurice could even look to Jansen Harkins or Riley Nash for a fourth row role.

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Cole Perfetti carries the puck during the Winnipeg Jets pro minicamp at the Bell MTS Iceplex in West Winnipeg on Wednesday, September 15, 2021. KEVIN KING / Winnipeg Sun / Postmedia Network
Cole Perfetti carries the puck during the Winnipeg Jets pro minicamp at the Bell MTS Iceplex in West Winnipeg on Wednesday, September 15, 2021. KEVIN KING / Winnipeg Sun / Postmedia Network

Perfetti’s versatility helps him here. He confidently played on the wing throughout minor hockey and in his junior career. Last year with the Moose, he was exclusively a center, and efficient.

“You can use your hockey sense a bit more,” said Perfetti. “I have the impression that by going in the middle of the rink, you have more options. It’s a bit more d-zone work, but you can show off what you can do with your brain and do more hockey games in the middle of the ice, so I really enjoyed that part.

So what’s better for Perfetti? A young NHL role player or another developing season in the AHL?

” It’s difficult. I don’t know, “he said.” Personally, I want to be able to slip anywhere in the roster and help the team in any way I can. Whether it’s a role. of a scorer, of an intermediary role – whatever it is – I want to be able to fit in anywhere, to be a kind of versatile player. I think the management has a plan for me, has a vision of the place where she sees me fit in. “

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For now, that plan includes getting him into training camp and preseason games.

“He’s going to play a bunch of exhibition games and we’ll see where he is,” head coach Paul Maurice said Thursday. “We think he’s great and we really love this player. He and Ville Heinola are all very good players and they need to get meaningful minutes.

“First of all, they have to help us win. Priority 1, they must help us win. Priority 1 is for the Jets to win. At our age group and our payroll, we have to win. And then we have to make sure these guys are in the best position to help us win in February and March.

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Twitter: @scottbilleck

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