Ranking the top 31 Prospects in the 2020 NHL Draft: 6. Cole Perfetti

HAMILTON, ON - JANUARY 16: Cole Perfetti #91 of Team White skates during the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team Red at FirstOntario Centre on January 16, 2020 in Hamilton, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
HAMILTON, ON - JANUARY 16: Cole Perfetti #91 of Team White skates during the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team Red at FirstOntario Centre on January 16, 2020 in Hamilton, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The highly-skilled forward out of Saginaw was one of the top players in junior hockey last season

Cole Perfetti (C/LW), Saginaw (OHL)

H: 5’10” W: 185 lbs

Teams that put a premium on hockey sense will be all over Perfetti, who has been unanimously regarded as the smartest player in the whole draft.

While the Saginaw Spirit forward doesn’t possess eye-popping traits he is very consistent and will always find ways to produce regardless of his environment. One of many ranked in the “third-tier” of this draft from 4 through 9, Perfetti has been ranked as low as 9 (Future Considerations) and as high as 4 (TSN Craig Button). Anybody who analyzes the talented forwards game will come out feeling better about him than before they studied his game.

2019-2020 Recap

2019-2020 Stats:

GP: 61 G: 37 A: 74 P:111 +/-: 49

An uber-productive player over the course of his hockey career, Perfetti lit the OHL on fire during his second season. Finishing second in the league in points just behind fellow draftee Marco Rossi and while he didn’t see an uptick in goal production he saw a significant increase in assists. Producing double the assists he did last season in two fewer games, he took his game to a whole new level in the 2019-2020 season.

Perfetti took the U18 summer showcase the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup by storm, leading the whole tournament in goals and points with 8 goals and 12 points in just 5 games. Far and away the best player in the event and topped his performance off with 2 goals and 3 shootout tallies to lead the Canadians to the final.

In the semi-final versus Sweden, Perfetti reads the defenceman’s play perfectly to take the puck away and spring himself for the tying goal:

A dangerous force throughout the game, the shootout is when everything would culminate for the savvy forward resulting in three shootout goals and a spot in the final for Canada.

Despite dropping the final versus Russia, Perfetti was the story of the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.

On top of the Hlinka, anytime a player finishes with over 100 points in his draft year you realize that a special prospect is in our presence and even topping the plateau comfortably with 111 points gives evaluators an idea of how offensively gifted Perfetti is.


Hockey Sense

Universally regarded as having an innate ability to read the ice, Perfetti has been praised by scouting services for his hockey sense. TSN’s Craig Button gave him a rare 6/5 on hockey sense to do him justice:

He usually tends to find a way to get the puck to spots that only his teammates can get, Perfetti makes players around him better, evident in the play below:

He passes the puck through a few defender’s bodies to an area that only his teammate can get a stick on, leading to a pretty finish.

“When we look at the scouting report, that’s not a mistake, that’s 6 out of 5 on hockey sense as a demonstration of how elite his hockey sense is.”

Not many players would see the play open up backdoor like that, especially while pivoting at the point while at even strength adding to the absurdity of the play. While most players in the draft wow with their speed, skill and physicality, Perfetti can impress with how he outthinks the opposition, something that can be underrated as it can be tough to pick up with just the eye test.

Goal Scoring

While Perfetti had double the assists as goals this past season, his ability to put the puck in the back of the net cannot be overlooked.

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Starting off with the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, scoring 8 goals in 5 games against the best in the world in your age group doesn’t just happen overnight, he knows how to finish.

Perfetti possesses a sneaky release to go along with his accurate shot, he routinely finds ways to elevate the puck over the goaltender.

The intelligent forward had a similar development to fellow draftee Alexis Lafreniere, where his goal totals stayed about the same from last season but he saw a significant increase in assists. This can be attributed less to a lack of scoring ability and more so to becoming more unselfish.

Despite not having elite speed, Perfetti has a way of creating breakaways for himself where he usually makes the goalie look silly.



Not a poor skater by any means but with his size at just 5’10”, plenty of NHL teams would like to see some more juice out of the talented forward.

Perfetti can use some work on his first few steps and his overall speed. While he is not slow, he also is not amongst the quickest or fastest skaters in the class.

Perfetti has room to grow in this aspect of his game and with a few tweaks to his stride, he should have the ability to develop his speed so it’s no longer a hindrance. At times Perfetti can get bent over too much and lose the ability to use all of his leg drive to gain his top speed. A player that excels in most aspects of the game, his speed does put him in compromising situations, especially in the defensive zone. A lot of teams crave size and speed at the center position, with Perfetti not prudent in any of those areas, there have been rumours about a potential move to the wing, which could be an ideal spot for him.

How does Perfetti fit in Ottawa?

With many rumours circling around Perfetti and Detroit:

As Sam Cosentino has held firm on his impression that Detroit has taken a liking to the prospect who was groomed in their backyard with Saginaw.

Regardless, if Perfetti is available at 5, Ottawa will have to take a long and hard look at him, he’s dripping with talent and has a hockey sense which could potentially rival that of a Mark Stone.

When Perfetti does crack the NHL, he would most likely start on the wing and he could end up being one for his whole career, which might be his best option. With Brady Tkachuk and Anthony Duclair slotted in at left-wing, Perfetti might have a battle to reach the top-six right away, but passing Duclair wouldn’t be out of the cards.

He would be a fantastic presence on the power play, as he could patrol the half-wall like he enjoyed doing in junior and allow Brady Tkachuk to do his thing in front of the net. While Perfetti is a great prospect and one Ottawa would be lucky to have, the chances he comes to Ottawa are slim if Detroit really likes him as much as people say. Also, Ottawa will likely want to target a right-shot, like Lucas Raymond or Alexander Holtz. Nevertheless, adding a player of Perfetti’s calibre would transform their forward group.