As we get closer to the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, we continue our evaluation of players that the Washington Capitals could potentially select with the eighth overall pick. Today, we will take a look at forward Gabe Perreault.
GABE PERREAULT – (18) – 5’11” – 165LBS, RW, USNTDP (USHL)
Perreault was the best player on both the US National U18 Team in the NTDP, and the US National Team Development Program of the USHL.
He had a record-setting season with the NTDP with 132 points (53 goals, 79 assists) in only 63 games, which broke Auston Matthews single season record of 117 points (55 goals, 62 assists) in the 2014-15 campaign. In the USHL, he led the team with 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in only 23 games.
Along with a record setting campaign, the Sherbrooke, Quebec native shined in the World Junior tournament, racking up 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in only seven games. He was on a dynamic line with Will Smith and Ryan Leonard during the tournament. All three players are going to Boston College for the upcoming season.
We talked about Andrew Cristall in our last draft profile. Perreault is a pass first player similar to Cristall. Along with his slick hands, he has a very high hockey IQ and always has his head on a swivel. He has a pretty powerful shot, especially his one timer, and that can help any team’s power play unit.
Oh my goodness, Gabe Perreault 😲
— USA Hockey’s NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) March 19, 2023
Perreault’s skating is by far his biggest weakness. He is not like Cristall where he only struggles with his straightaway speed, Perreault does not have the acceleration both north south and east west. His mechanics are not the most fluid. Furthermore, he is not the most responsible with the puck in his own zone.
While the record setting numbers for the young winger are eye-catching, it will be a stretch for Washington to select Perreault with the eighth pick. However, crazier things have happened and you never know what Brian MacLellan has up his sleeve.
Gabe Perreault is a highly-skilled, offensive-minded winger who has a variety of tricks in his arsenal that makes him a threat on the power play. His offensive abilities bleed into both playmaking and shooting, but I think he’s more of a pass-first player. He is good at reading plays and making quick, smart decisions in the offensive zone, and has great vision.
I’ve stuck my neck out on Perreault since the start of this season and I’m prepared to hold firm with my evaluation through to the end of this draft year, too. Eventually, when the points pile up like they did, and they happen making the kinds of plays that he did, you can’t ignore them. Say what you will, he’s now the NTDP’s single-season points record holder. He didn’t even pass Auston Matthews and Jack Hughes by a narrow margin when it was all said and done, either. There are many who’ve settled on Perreault as more of a mid-to-late first-rounder because of the combination of his skinny frame (though he has looked stronger all three times I bumped into him over the course of this season at the rink), the linemates he plays with, and perceived questions about his skating. He’s likely going to be the fourth player from the national program picked because his game is believed to be less projectable.
He’s a clever-beyond-belief, maneuverable facilitator and playmaker who plays the game with a light touch and a heady spatial awareness of not only where his teammates are, but where he is in the flow of play (and relative to defenders). The son of longtime NHLer Yanic Perreault and brother of Ducks prospect Jacob, Gabe doesn’t have his dad’s defensive acumen or his brother’s build (he’s listed at 165 pounds now), but he’s an intuitive, highly intelligent player who sees the play develop offensively at a more advanced level than his two family members did/do — and than almost anybody in the draft does. He’s got some of the quickest hands in the draft.
The Athletic: 7
Elite Prospects: 18
Bob McKenzie: 23
Craig Button: 15
By Jacob Cheris