The Winnipeg Jets have finally found their true second-line centre. After back-to-back seasons (2017-18, 2018-19) featuring trade deadline day deals that saw GM Kevin Cheveldayoff trade away a first-round pick and a promising prospect in exchange for a rental (Paul Stastny, Kevin Hayes), the club has taken a different approach.
On Tuesday, October 6, at roughly 7:30 PM local time, forward Cole Perfetti became the newest member of the Winnipeg Jets, immediately putting himself into contention for the high-coveted second-line centreman position.
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“It was an amazing feeling,” Perfetti told reporters following his selection. “It was something I’ve worked for my entire life, so to hear my name be called with all of my friends and family in attendance, it was a surreal moment and something that I’ll never forget.”
“I prefer centre,” he added shortly after. “I think I’m a better centre and can make more of an impact there. But at the end of the day I’ve played wing and centre my entire life, so whatever Paul Maurice wants, I’ll be excited to do so.”
In picking 10th overall, the Jets selected the 5-foot-11, 180-pound forward out of the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit, where he put up 74 goals and 185 points over 124 games in 2018-19 and 2019-20 combined. Last season saw the speedy left-shooting centreman produce 37 goals and 111 points in just 61 games – something he wants to be able to continue doing in Manitoba.
“The roster is pretty impressive,” Perfetti said of the Jets. “There’s a lot of great guys you can play with up and down the lineup. It would be a lot of fun. Whether you’re playing with Scheifele or Copp or Wheeler or Laine for that matter, there’s so many great players. To even be able to think about playing with those guys gives me goosebumps. It’ll be a lot of fun. I think we’ll work well together. I think at the next level my hockey IQ and playmaking ability will help me and allow me to make an impact and adapt and play with a lot of different players.”
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic cancelling last year’s running of the OHL postseason, Perfetti’s only playoff numbers came from the 2018-19 season. He produced at nearly a point-per-game, finishing with eight goals and 14 points in 16 playoff games.
“I am a kid that’s pretty eager and pretty hungry to make the jump,” he said. “I’m going to come in with a chip on my shoulder and I’m going to try and make an impact as soon as I can. They’re going to get a 200-foot player and definitely a guy that uses his brain and hockey IQ in the offensive zone, who has that ability to score from my shot and in tight, kind of that duel threat. It’s my hockey IQ and playmkaing ability that makes me who I am.”
Being selected 10th overall would typically be a cause for celebration. Of course Perfetti is thrilled to be a member of the Jets, but he hasn’t forgotten about the other eight NHL clubs that passed him over Tuesday evening.
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