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Blackhawks’ No. 17 pick in 2020 NHL Draft: Making case for Jacob Perreault

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The Sarnia Sting right wing is one of the best pure shooters in the draft.

Sarnia Sting v Oshawa Generals Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

The Second City Hockey staff will profile 10 players leading up to the 2020 NHL Draft, which will start Oct. 6, the Blackhawks could have the opportunity to select at No. 17 overall.

The Blackhawks sure seem to like drafting Illinois natives.

From Vinnie Hinostroza of Bartlett (2012 sixth), Ryan Hartman of West Dundee (2013 first), Anthony Louis of Winfield (2013 sixth), Roy Radke of Geneva (2015 sixth) and Alex Vlasic of Wilmette (2019 second), the Blackhawks have drafted some homegrown talent. That would be the case for Jacob Perreault, who is not only from Illinois (Hinsdale) but is the son of a Blackhawks development coach, Yanic Perreault.

The younger Perreault is a talented goal scorer with 39 goals in 57 games for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL, and has one of the best shots in the draft. He’s able to pick corners and drive to the net and score from tough angles. Inside of the offensive zone, he can be a creative playmaker and looks like a great offensive weapon. It’s getting to the offensive zone where he has some trouble.

His foot speed is average and he lacks a good first step, but when he has momentum he can become a much better skater. There are questions about how that skating will translate to the NHL and whether his play off the puck can improve.

The Blackhawks are used to elite-level goal scorers from the OHL with questions about skating and foot speed. That’s how Alex DeBrincat was described going into his draft year. His skating hasn’t looked like a problem in the last few years. Perreault can also win battles against bigger opponents and shows a competitive edge like DeBrincat.

But DeBrincat is not the comparison Perreault makes for himself as he looks to a bigger player like Brock Boeser of the Canucks. Becoming either comparison would be great for Perreault. There are little things that still need to be addressed in his game — he can be inconsistent at times and tries to force plays on occasion.

Perreault’s offensive skill overshadows what he can do defensively, but he doesn’t currently look to be a penalty killing option. However, he would be a fantastic addition as a shooter on the power play.

“Jacob is a skilled playmaker, scorer and it’s kinda funny when you read reports on Jacob some are really raving about the playmaking [while] others are raving about his ability to snipe,” Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said on the Blackhawks Talk Podcast.

Kelley also said Wednesday during a pre-draft media conference call that Perreault’s biggest similarity to his father is his hockey sense. Yanic scored 516 points (247 goals, 269 assists) during his 14-year NHL career with Toronto, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, Arizona (Phoenix) and Chicago from 1993-2008. He’s served as a development coach for the Blackhawks since 2013 and head coach for various Chicago Mission teams the past three seasons.

Organizational fit

The Blackhawks have a clear need for a right wing as they only three in their prospect pool: Andrei Altybarmakyan, MacKenzie Entwistle and Niklas Nordgren. Altybarmakyan signed this year and will be in the AHL this coming season with Entwistle, who will be a second-year pro. Nordgren has battled injuries and hasn’t established himself in Finland yet.

Drafting Perreault if he’s available at No. 17 makes sense for the Blackhawks and they have experience working with prospects and young players on their skating. DeBrincat’s hasn’t been noticeable. That’s all Perreault needs.

Basics

Position: Right wing

Age: 18 (April 15, 2002)

Hometown: Hinsdale, Illinois

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 198 pounds

Shoots: Right

Team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Draft rankings

NHL Central Scouting (NHL): No. 17 North American skater

Elite Prospects: No. 23

Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): No. 25

Corey Pronman (The Athletic): No. 18

Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects): No. 26

Craig Button (TSN): No. 40