As was evidenced by Steve Yzerman‘s recent acquisition of Marc Staal and a second round draft pick for future considerations, Detroit’s rebuild is still in full swing.
As an organization, the Red Wings are most notably lacking at the center position. Currently speaking, the franchise’s best center is Dylan Larkin. After him? Good question. Of course, Joe Veleno is still developing in Grand Rapids, and is expected to play a big role in the team’s future. But as of now, the only one capable of producing at a regular clip in the NHL is Larkin.
Possible draft target Cole Perfetti could be the perfect fit, just for this reason. Ranked anywhere between fourth and eighth best prospect on various prospect rankings, Perfetti played in 61 games this season with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL, scoring 37 goals and 74 assists. His 111 points were met with only 16 penalty minutes over the course the season.
NHL Central Scouting lists his best assets as his hockey sense, playmaking, and scoring ability. They also state that a possible NHL comparable is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft.
They also go on to say: “Excellent puck handler and puck skills, vision and execution are on another level. He’s elusive and can turn on a dime, evading checks and giving himself time and space to utilize his offensive arsenal. He has incredible hockey IQ and a feel for the game, can slow the play down to his pace, draw the attention of every defender and finds a pass no one else in the arena sees coming. Perfetti is a major threat every time he’s on the ice and is just as dangerous as a playmaker as he is a scorer.”
Though there may be some concerns as to whether or not his size will be adequate for the NHL, Perfetti recently stated that he is not concerned. “The way the game is going, you have to be a quicker player and think the game at a very high level”, he told the Detroit Free Press. “That suits me very well. That’s what makes me the player I am.”
Based on projections of how the first three picks will go, it seems more than likely that Perfetti will still be on the board when Detroit selects with the fourth pick. Most mock drafts that you come across (Fansided, Draftsite, and Tankathon, among others) do indeed see the Red Wings taking the high-scoring Canadian. Would he be the kind of player who steps into the NHL right away and helps a team? Unlikely, but he certainly would be the new top prospect for whichever team it is that selects him.