We’re nearing the end of our Pilots Logbook series, with only a few players left to examine. One of those players is Mathieu Perreault, a fan favourite of many Jets fans. Always a darling of the advanced metrics, Perreault’s game has been under-rated for much of his career. Is Perreault still under-rated now that his point totals have started to decrease and his salary remains fairly high? Let’s take a look in today’s logbook.
85 – Wing
5’10” / 188 lbs / Age: 31
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Perreault currently has two years left on his four year deal that he signed back in the summer of 2016. The contract has an AAV of $4.125 million and includes a modified no trade clause for the duration of the contract. The no trade clause stipulates that Perreault can submit a list of five teams he cannot be traded to, the rest are fair game. The no trade clause is important, especially since rumours have emerged that the Jets might be trying to shop Perreault to clear some cap space.
Player’s Season in Review
An important mark of Perreault’s career was achieved this past season. He managed to play a full 82 games for the first time in his NHL career. He’s suffered from a multitude of injuries in the past, but staying healthy this season was important, especially since he’s now over 30 years old.
One of Perreault’s biggest assets is his ability to make his linemates better. Even if Perreault isn’t scoring points himself, he finds a way to help out his linemates on a consistent basis. The best way to illustrate this is to show you the impact Perreault has on Bryan Little.
As you can see, Bryan Little is fantastic when playing with Perreault. In fact, of all the players who played over 100 minutes with Perreault this year, Little has the most shots for / 60 of any Jets player. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can see that Little had the second lowest shots for / 60 when playing away from Perreault. That’s a massive swing in Little’s game from just one linemate.
One of the other things that Perreault does well is to eliminate offensive chances for the opposition. Perreault had an on-ice xGoals% of 50.1% and he had a scoring chances for % 49.09%, both of which were near the top of the team. Even if Perreault isn’t known as the best defensive player, he does a solid job at eliminating shots from the dangerous areas of the ice.
So not only does Perreault help his teammates, but he also helps tilt the ice in Winnipeg’s favour, so far, so good.
Where things start to go downhill is to look at what Perreault is actually doing on the ice. Perreault saw his production slip to it’s lowest mark of his career with only 0.37 points per game. He played a full 82 games this season and still had his fourth worst season in terms of points. One explanation is a lack of ice-time as Perreault only played 12:14 per game which was the lowest since he came to Winnipeg in 2014-15. He also didn’t get the opportunity to play with other skilled linemates as he spent most of this time helping out on the fourth line. In prior seasons, he had the privilege of playing with Ehlers or Little and was able to chip in more offensively.
One of the other areas that Perreault struggles in is the penalties he takes. He finished the year with the 8th most penalty minutes on the team despite playing fourth line minutes and not getting any fighting majors. Some of the penalties left people shaking their heads as Perreault often got penalties in the offensive zone while trying to forecheck.
The other frightening aspect is that if his game is starting to decline, the next two years are going to be tough to endure considering he’s on the books for over $4 million per year. That’s valuable cap space that could be used to help sign Copp, or to sign a defensemen in free agency.
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Perreault tallied two assists in the postseason even while missing game 2 with an injury. The penalty minutes reared their ugly head again as Perreault had 8 penalty minutes in only five playoff games. It’s a theme for Perreault to get hurt during the playoffs as he has never played a full post-season with the Jets, he’s always missed at least one game.
What We Said A Year Ago
“It’s that ability to grind combined with his skill and play making ability as a forward that makes him so invaluable to the team. He can play on a top six forward role and not look out of place with the more offensively gifted players like a Patrik Laine or a Kyle Connor, or he can be just as effective playing on a fourth line with Joel Armia and Matt Hendricks and probably be even more valuable in that role as his play helps bring up the play of both Armia and Hendricks. His ability to drive play gave the Jets a really good fourth line option as he did in the middle of the season when played a handful of games with them.”
It seems that the biggest weakness of Perreault is his contract. His game still provides value, but the cost is starting to outweigh the benefits. If Perreault can clean up the penalties and find a resurgence on the scoresheet, perhaps the contract can last another two years without getting traded or bought out. If the Jets don’t believe Perreault can provide that value, there’s a very real chance that he gets dealt and is no longer with the team next season.