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What you need to know about COVID-19: October 20, 2020
Go ahead, call Cole Perfetti a nerd.
A hockey nerd, to be exact.
Perfetti, one of the top prospects for the 2020 National Hockey League draft, is cool with it.
“I would agree with that strongly,” Perfetti said. “Ever since I was young, I was always the kid who would go on Youtube on my dad’s computer and look up hockey highlights, best goals, shootout goals.
“I loved watching hockey and if I couldn’t watch live games on television, I would resort to Youtube. Hockey is pretty much my entire life.
“I enjoy breaking down what the elite players are doing and what makes them so successful. There are so many resources you can use.”
With the draft around the corner on Oct. 6-7, the Saginaw Spirit forward was one of eight prospects made available via Zoom on Thursday. Ranked fifth among skaters in North America by NHL central scouting, Perfetti, a native of Whitby, Ont., and the 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League scholastic player of the year, had some insightful views on a number of topics.
The NHL draft, which will be held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, won’t include the buzz in the arena (it was to be held in Montreal in June) and all the buildup that comes with it, and Perfetti didn’t play down his disappointment. But the 18-year-old, who had 111 points in 61 games last season, recognized the different experience that will unfold.
“Growing up watching the combine and the draft and everything in between, I had a picture in my mind of what it would be like,” Perfetti said. “It has been uncertain times and I’ve learned how to go with the flow. It’s tough to deal with when you dream of having things the way it’s going to be normally.
“It’s going to be unique and even though it’s not the traditional way, it’s going to be great to be able to spend the day with my family and all my close friends who were there for me through all these years and supported me. It’s going to be a fun night and I’m really grateful for that.”
Perfetti wears No. 91 as a nod to John Tavares, whose Ontario Hockey League days with the Oshawa Generals were an inspiration. Now, it’s players such as Brayden Point, Mitch Marner and Claude Giroux, all similar in size to Perfetti, that catch his eye.
“Their brains are so strong in what makes them who they are,” Perfetti said. “I try to pick out things they do and implement them into my game. Being able to watch them live and in game, you can see small things that not a lot of people recognize. It’s the little things they do, routes they take, footwork, how they delay up the wall, that I try to put into my game.
“You see the way the game is going now, you have to be a quicker player who can think the game at a very high level and that suits me. It’s good to see that hockey is going that way.”
Perfetti gave us a glimpse into his Zoom interviews with the Detroit Red Wings, who have the fourth pick.
“With Mr. Yzerman, it has been limited,” Perfetti said, referring to Wings general manager Steve Yzerman. “He has been on the calls, but for the most part he has had his camera off and has been very quiet, just listening and taking notes. He didn’t really ask anything much, it was mainly (Wings director of amateur scouting) Kris Draper running the calls.”
Little surprise, several prospects said they love what they’re seeing in Point during the Stanley Cup final as he dominates for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It was Pavel Datsyuk, but now it’s Brayden Point,” Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s said when asked about his favourite player. “He’s playing so smart. He’s the same size as me and I just l love to see how he is playing. He’s not afraid and he’s a really good playmaker and shooter. He makes his team better.”
Point sits second in playoff scoring with 28 points in 20 games, two back of leader and teammate Nikita Kucherov, heading into Game 4 on Friday night in Edmonton.
“My vote for the Conn Smythe (Award) right now would be for Brayden Point,” the Sudbury Wolves’ Quinton Byfield said. “I think he’s playing exceptional. There’s a lot (of Lightning players) you could give it to, but right now it would be Point.”
And from Alexis Lafreniere, who is ticketed to be the first pick overall by the New York Rangers, when asked about the Conn Smythe: “I would go with (Miro) Heiskanen for Dallas and Brayden Point for Tampa.”
Tim Stuetzle, the No. 1-ranked international skater, is in line to become the third German-born (and trained) player to be chosen in the top 10 after Leon Draisaitl by Edmonton (third overall in 2014) and Moritz Seider by Detroit (sixth overall in 2019). Naturally, Stuetzle — a full-package winger who has been compared to Patrick Kane — sees Draisaitl, the 2019-20 Hart Trophy winner, as a source of motivation. “Leon was an unbelievable role model last season and the year before as well,” Stuetzle said … Why does Rossi, who led the CHL in scoring with 120 points in 56 games, think he could step into the NHL in 2020-21? “I think it’s my complete game, playing a 200-foot game,” Rossi said. “My playmaking ability, my smartness with my hockey I.Q., just my overall game.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020