The New York Rangers selected Gabe Perreault at #23 overall last night at the 2023 NHL Draft. About two weeks ago I had him listed in the dreamland category of potential picks at 23. The Gabe Perreault pick is a coup, and every scouting report is high on him with arguably top 5 skill and offensive sense in the draft whose only knock was average skating for a player of his size. He shattered the NTDP U18 scoring record this past season and looked like a lock to go in the lottery.
- Bob McKenzie: 10
- Scott Wheeler: 7
- Corey Pronman: 12
- EliteProspects: 18
- Chris Peters: 11
- Consolidated: 14
Make no mistake, the Gabe Perreault pick is a coup by the Rangers. I will do a deeper dive into Perreault this summer to demonstrate just how skilled and creative he is. As I said during my initial thoughts on him, Perreault will likely be one of the highest-scoring Freshmen in the NCAA playing on a line with NTDP teammates Will Smith (Sharks) and Ryan Leonard (Capitals) next season, and a key player for Team USA at the WJC in both 2023 and 2024.
He will need two seasons at Boston College before turning pro, and we must be patient with him. I am aware that Rangers fans are scared about the Gabe Perreault pick because of the foot speed questions, but this is a player with arguably the best hockey sense in the entire draft and high-end skill to match it. He has added a ton of lean muscle while at the NTDP and his skating has improved as a result. From Scott Wheeler of the Athletic:
And he’s a better skater than he gets credit for, with above-average speed for my money and room to add power and pick up another step as he gets stronger. Because of his genetics, he should add the necessary weight and strength eventually.
You are never getting a perfect prospect at pick 23. The big players who can skate, have the puck on a string, have a quick release, and think the game well are gone within the first ten picks every draft. With the Gabe Perreault pick, the Rangers have given themselves the best possible opportunity to land a high-octane offensive threat in the latter third of the draft, as he ticks off all but one of those boxes. These are prospects, who knows if they will work out down the road.
What the Scouts are Saying
Perreault is an extremely skilled and intelligent winger who can make a ton of positive things happen inside the offensive zone. Perreault makes highly-creative and unique dekes and passes with the puck at a high rate, both off the perimeter and in small areas. His puck game is clear NHL power-play quality, and he will score as a pro.
The issues on Perreault’s game is his 5-foot-11 frame and his lack of footspeed. He shows good second effort and can win puck battles at the junior level, although whether he can do that versus men is a concern. His hockey sense is so elite though that I think he can overcome those issues and become a very good top six winger.
Scott Wheeler, The Athletic:
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…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. He problem-solves his way out of trouble as well as anyone in this age group. He’s got dexterous tools catching, tipping and redirecting pucks…There might not be a player in this draft class who thinks the game offensively at his level.
Perhaps one of the craftiest playmakers in this draft, Perreault thinks the game at an elite level. His ability to anticipate and read plays, as well as pick apart opposing defenses is a big separator for him. He scored 132 points at the NTDP this season, 15 more points than the previous record-holder for a single season, Auston Matthews.
Perreault’s biggest strength is the way he thinks the game because his skating is average and he doesn’t have tremendous size. He just always seems to make the right play, doesn’t get caught doing too much and seems to understand his limitations and how to mask those with creative plays with the puck on his stick.
More to come on the Gabe Perreault pick later. For now, rejoice that this is a great pick for the Rangers.