The Winnipeg Jets are in need of a second line centre, and Cole Perfetti fit the bill.
The Jets used their first round draft pick at 10th overall to select the Ontario product on Tuesday at the annual NHL Draft.
Perfetti, 18, played with the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit last season.
“It feels unbelievable. Words don’t even describe it,” Perfetti told the CJOB Sports Show. “I’ve dreamed of this day. To be picked by such an organization like the Winnipeg Jets – it’s an honour and I can’t wait to get down there and start playing.”
Perfetti scored 37 goals with 74 assists for 111 points in just 61 games last season. He also notched 37 goals in his rookie OHL season.
“There’s a lot of great players that I try to model my game after,” Perfetti said. “But to a certain extent I think I have a unique style to my game. I think my hockey IQ is what makes me who I am. And I also have that ability to score, and be that threat in the offensive zone. But I can also play that 200 foot role.”
He was ranked fifth among all North American skaters by Central Scouting.
“Everyone raved about his hockey IQ and his intelligence,” general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. “The work that we’ve done kinda away from those meetings as well – the people raved about his character. And then obviously his stats and on-ice play speak for themselves.”
In a non-hockey talent, Perfetti can also solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than a minute.
“When I was younger, I used to just think it was the coolest thing,” he said. “Not knowing how to do it really bugged me. I wanted to know and kinda prove all my friends wrong and kinda just wow them. So I went on You Tube one day when I was like 12 and just decided to try. It took about two hours to learn and ever since then I’ve been able to do it.”
It’s the first time the Jets have selected a Canadian with their first pick of the draft since Josh Morrissey at 13th overall in 2013.
No players are getting called on stage this year as the draft is being held virtually. The wife of the late Dale Hawerchuk, Crystal, announced the Jets’ first round selection via webcam.
The New York Rangers won the draft lottery for the right to the top pick. The Rangers used the first overall selection to take highly touted forward Alexis Lafrenière of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Océanic.
Winnipeg’s Seth Jarvis of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes with the 13th overall pick. Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Braden Schneider was snapped up by the Rangers with the 19th selection. And Schneider’s teammate Ridly Greig is headed to the Ottawa Senators after being drafted with the 28th pick.