Pearls are a fickle piece of jewelry. They form in a time of need and they don’t always have the luster you want, but when they do, they’re magnificent. Brendan Perlini is just that: a player who needed the right place and the right time to break out of his shell and this season, he started that process.
After being drafted in 2014 following a torrid 71 point season with Niagara in the OHL, Perlini was injured in training camp and he never seemed quite the same. He did follow up that injury with a 60 point campaign in the 2014-15 OHL season, but couldn’t stick with the NHL club at camp. In 2015-16, he regressed and some analysts read that as a red flag.
But Perlini, such as true pearl, showed as a consequence of hard times. He attended the 2016 preseason camp, showing vigor and talent becoming of a top-NHL prospect. But the roster could only take so many players, and with the competition warring on for roster spots between Dylan Strome, Laurent Dauphin, and Christian Dvorak, Perlini found himself riding a bus south to Tucson. None the less, he carried his vigor from camp to the Roadrunners, getting in on the first goal in team history which ultimately came from Craig Cunnigham (#CunnyDid):
From that point onwards, Perlini made a season for himself in Tucson despite it being rather brief. He scored 14 goals in 17 games while adding 5 assists en route to being top in the AHL All-Star Game selection, but he never got to play in that game. His phenomenal play earned him a promotion to the big club and three games in, he made his first mark:
The most notable thing about that goal, and his play on the whole with Tucson, was Perlini’s wrist shot. His release is outstanding. For instance, this goal:
Aaaand another one, albeit a shovel shot (fast forward to 46 seconds in):
Brendan Perlini, from when he was called up in December once the team opted to option Dylan Strome to Erie for another year of Junior hockey, played 57 NHL games, produced 21 points, and only played to a -4 on a team that gave up way too many goals. He showed excellent ‘hockey smarts’, putting himself in positions to make plays while harnessing some incredible speed and an excellent wrist shot.
He never went on a point streak like Christian Dvorak did, or rack up numbers like Duclair and Domi the season before, but he certainly became an impact player who was able to stay on the roster during a season of continuous changes.
In Perlini’s The Hockey Writer’s article before he was drafted, they best compared him to Bobby Ryan. Now, Ottawa’s top-6 winger may be more physical than Perlini, but their wrist shots are certainly in the same ballpark and the speed component is there as well. Here’s a quick reel of Ryan’s skill (mute it if you don’t want to hear Chad Kroeger’s voice):
You can see the similarities: the speed, the hands, the release. It’s all there. And that bodes well for Arizona. The Coyotes need that powerful shooter on the wing and Radim Vrbata won’t last forever or may not even be back for next season.
Perlini earned an A-/B+ for his work this season. He’s still learning the game, he had his share of mistakes, but he is on a young team finding its way and he started carving out his role. Two years ago, some didn’t see him as part of the puzzle that gets Arizona back to the playoffs, but now most can not fathom a route back without him and his shot. He will be even better next year, and I would boldly put out there that if he gets a competent linemate, he could crack 45 points (25 goals).
How did Brendan Perlini do in your opinion? Vote below!
The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.
What Grade Would You Give Brendan Perlini
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