| Detroit Free Press
Top prospects on 2020 draft, Detroit Red Wings’ Steve Yzerman
Top prospects in the 2020 NHL draft talk on a Zoom call, Sept. 24, 2020.
Like he would a ninja, Cole Perfetti felt, rather than heard or saw, Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman’s presence.
Perfetti is one of multiple high-end forwards the Wings could choose with the fourth pick in the 2020 draft. Other elite prospects the Wings could nab include defensemen Jamie Drysdale and Jake Sanderson, and forwards Marco Rossi, Jack Quinn and Alexander Holtz. Alexis Lafreniere, Tim Stützle and Quinton Byfield are projected to go in the top three spots.
The first round is scheduled to be held virtually on Oct. 6, followed by Rounds 2-7 on Oct. 7.
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During the NHL’s Zoom calls in lieu of the annual combine, Yzerman kept his screen dark and his microphone on mute. Kris Draper, the Wings’ director of amateur scouting, led the questioning.
“I’ve met a couple times with the Detroit Red Wings over the break,” Perfetti said Thursday afternoon via Zoom. “With Mr. Yzerman, it’s been limited. He’s been on all the calls, but for the most part he’s had his camera off and very quiet, just kind of listening and taking notes. He didn’t really ask anything.
“I just tried to be myself, show my personality, and hopefully he enjoyed that and got a lot out of that. I hope I made a good impression.”
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Perfetti comes across as personable and professional, and his hockey prowess has him ranked No. 5 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Perfetti lit up the Ontario Hockey League in 2019-20, recording 37 goals and 74 assists in 61 games with the Saginaw Spirit. He played both wing and center, though he said he prefers center because he feels he makes more of an impact in the middle.
Parrying a question about his size — he’s listed as 5-foot-10, 185 pounds — Perfetti noted that “the way the game is going, you have to be a quicker player and think the game at a very high level. That suits me very well. That’s what makes me the player I am.”
If Yzerman drafts Perfetti, the Wings could develop him similar to Dylan Larkin, who played wing his first year, then switched to his natural center position. But keeping Perfetti on the wing could make sense, if, down the road, Joe Veleno emerges as a No. 2 center. Perfetti would give the Wings a scoring option, potentially forming a second line with Veleno and Filip Zadina, while Larkin mans the top line with Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi.
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That’s getting ahead in projecting, though. The pandemic has rendered the start of the NHL season uncertain, and muddied how minor and junior leagues will function. Perfetti, from Whitby, Ontario, has spent the six months since hockey leagues shut down in the gym and working on his skating. From the time he was a small child, his interest has been hockey, hockey and more hockey.
“Ever since I was young, I would go on YouTube on my dad’s computer and look up hockey highlights, shootout goals,” Perfetti said. “I loved watching hockey and if I couldn’t watch live games on television, I resorted to YouTube. It’s something that I just have a big passion for. Hockey is pretty much my entire life. I would definitely say I’m a hockey nerd.”
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Men and Moments that made the Detroit Red Wings will be published in October by Triumph Books. To preorder, go to Amazon.