Mathieu Perreault is Kind of a Big Deal
“Depth playmaker with a little upside”
That’s TSN’s scouting report summary of Mathieu Perreault.
That’s pretty much how the hockey world sees the 27-year old, currently plying his trade with the Winnipeg Jets.
It’s a view that would be fine if it were true; but the Drummondville native has become one of the games best complimentary players, helping the Jets stars shine in the ultra-competitive Central Division.
Perreault seems to be a player who suffers a little from the eye test – no pun intended, as the forwards 5’10”, 188lbs frame makes many question whether he can ‘hang’ in today’s NHL.
But dig a little deeper and his value starts to become apparent.
Not only does he possess one of the best mug shots in the sport, but the former Acadie-Bathurst Titan is second in assists (21) on the Jets this season, which comes as no surprise when we consider he is the teams’ clear leader in primary passes:
His ability as one of Winnipeg’s best playmakers is even more pronounced when we smooth things out to a more comparable level:
As a result, maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that Perreault’s Corsi For numbers are not only the highest on the Jets in all situations, but the highest in the entire league, coming in at an impressive 65.71% (minimum 300 minutes played).
Perreault isn’t just an offensive machine however, he’s also having an impact on the Jets defensive game, where he boasts a 39.53 Corsi Against per 60 rating, good for fourth best in the league behind three Detroit Red Wings – Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyqvist – and an overall On-Ice Corsi Differential of 341 (Corsi For Total 713 minus Corsi Against Total 372). Only Eric Staal betters Perreault in this regard.
You could argue that Winnipeg would like a little more return from Perreault in the goals column, with just 4 to his name so far this season, but that isn’t his game. The Jets pay Blake Wheeler, for example, to score goals. But someone still needs to put Wheeler et al in a position to score, something Perreault is beginning to excel at.
Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice has employed Perreault as a quarter back on the club’s first powerplay unit precisely because of his ability to make those smart passes that lead to scoring opportunities, and it seems fair to say that in this regard Perreault is making the most of the 16 minutes and 39 seconds of ice time he averages this season.
There has been no greater beneficiary of Perreault’s play than Mark Scheifele. The 22-year old has spent 86% of his time on ice with Perreault this season, and is not only on pace to set a new personal best for goals but sees a significant upturn in other statistics when playing with Perreault.
Nikolaj Ehlers has also spent 46% of his ice time with Perreault, mostly during the first 15 games of the season when Ehlers scored 4 goals and 9 points and emerged as a potential Calder Trophy candidate. The Dane has just 1 goal and 3 points since being move away from Perreault.
Looking back, it seems strange Anaheim did not tender a qualifying offer to Perreault in 2014, despite posting a career best 18 goals and 43 points and making most of his line mates better, even through some inconsistent usage.
Perhaps the $3m per year Perreault now earns with the Jets was too rich for the Ducks, who work to a strict internal cap despite their on ice success. Whatever Anaheim’s reasons for walking away, Winnipeg has benefited from Perreault’s arrival.
A recent slump has seen the Jets slide out of the playoff picture somewhat, and impending free agents Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd dominate many of the headlines, with Scheifele and Jacob Trouba also set to become restricted free agents next summer.
Perhaps it is those bigger names, the ‘unfashionable’ team that put Perreault in the shadows, preventing him from being talked about in the same way as, say, Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher – who is a better goal scorer but similarly important to the team overall.
Whatever the reasons, Perreault continues to fly under the radar for many. A forgotten man in Manitoba.
But ever improving data, and data analysis, is highlighting the great contributions players like Perreault make, and their real value to their teams.
Mathieu Perreault is more than just an outstanding beard. And it’s time the hockey world knew about it.