18-year-old Cole Perfetti wants to be drafted by the Red Wings
Of Saginaw center Cole Perfetti, above, coach Dave Drinkill says: “His hockey IQ is a thing of beauty. He’s thinking three moves ahead and where guys will be to receive the pass.”
Cole Perfetti is quite familiar with the Red Wings and would like to be even more so.
Perfetti, an 18-year-old center who plays with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, is expected to be among the first five picks of the 2020 NHL Draft.
The Red Wings, of course, have the fourth pick despite having by far the league’s worst record this season. The team already has a relationship with Perfetti.
Detroit’s amateur scouting director, Kris Draper, is partners with Brandon Bordeaux, whose family has billeted Perfetti for the last two seasons, Wings senior vice president Jimmy Devellano and former Detroit goalie and Red Wings TV analyst Chris Osgood have an ownership stake in the Spirit. And Perfetti has been working out with former Detroit conditioning coach Pete Renzetti.
“At the end of the day, I hope what I did throughout the year on the ice and off the ice speaks for itself and makes it a no-brainer for them (the Red Wings),” Perfetti told the Detroit News. “There would be no hard feelings if they didn’t draft me because it’s a business and they have to do what’s right for them. If it was the Red Wings, it would be amazing and a dream come true.”
Perfetti, a native of Whitby, Ontario, was second in the OHL in scoring with 37 goals and 111 points in 61 games this season.
He had 37 goals and 37 assists in 63 games as a 16-year-old rookie in 2018-19. The 74 points were the most by a 16-year-old in the league since 2010-11 (Alex Galchenyuk, 83 points) and 13 more than Quinton Byfield – also an OHL rookie that season – who is expected to be taken second or third in this year’s NHL Draft.
“Cole has been a big-time point producer, a go-to player, ultra-competitive. And our team has taken off since he came on board,” said Saginaw general manager Dave Drinkill.
Perfetti, 5-11 and 180 pounds, originally committed to play at the University of Michigan – he would have been a freshman now – but changed his mind and went the Major Junior route.
“His hockey IQ is a thing of beauty. He’s thinking three moves ahead and where guys will be to receive the pass,” Drinkill said. “He looks like he’s cruising out there but he’s a deceptively quick skater. He’ll wait for the play to happen, and it feels like the seas part. He’ll go down as the best player in Saginaw history when his career is over.”
Perfetti grew up playing against another player who will likely also be available when the Red Wings make their selection at No. 4 – Erie Otters defenseman Jamie Drysdale, who is considered the best defenseman available. Both Perfetti and Drysdale are 2002 birth-years and are from the Toronto area.
“Perfetti is a player I grew up playing against. Every time he has the puck, he’s dangerous,” Drysdale told the Detroit News OctoPulse podcast earlier this year. “His numbers speak for themselves. He’s an unbelievable player.”
Perfetti has also distinguished himself off the ice.
He started a non-profit called Fetts’ Friends to raise money and support the pediatric center at Covenant Kids in Saginaw, and he was named the 2020 Canadian Hockey League’s Scholastic Player of the Year with a 93 percent average.
“He’s mature beyond his years. He’ll visit young kids in the hospital who are going through tough times, and they’ll play games on their huge iPad,” Drinkill said. “He was raised to be humble and respectful, and he wanted to give back to the community.”
Of course, Detroit’s decision on whether or not to draft Perfetti will be strictly business.
“Kris (Draper) will remove that relationship aspect and do his job. That’s what he’s paid to do, and the Red Wings are in good hands,” Drinkill said. “If they do take Cole, they’ll be getting a heckuva player.”