This time last year, my first article with Jetsnation.ca was to compare the Winnipeg Jets to the then reigning Stanley Cup champions Pittsburgh Penguins. In doing so, I found myself in a conundrum, in trying to figure out which way the Winnipeg Jets should go in regards to Adam Lowry and Mathieu Perreault. Let it be known, that I am and probably will be one of Lowry’s biggest fans, but I found myself sliding into the Pro Perreault camp.
#85 – CENTER
5’10″ / 188 lbs / Age: 30
Current Contract Status: Signed through 2021-21 season ($4,125,000/yr)
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PLAYER’S SEASON IN REVIEW
The knock on Perreault has always been that while yes he’s a fine player, he’s injured a lot.
Mathieu is more of a physical player than people realize mostly due to his smaller frame at under six feet, but he actually finished fourth amount Jets forwards in the hits category (which yes is a bit of a subjective stat, but still a stat none the less…) with 120. He’s not afraid to stick his nose into the corners or around the front of the net and is one of the team’s best when it comes to talking about forwards who can forecheck.
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.
Otherwise he was mostly grouped up with Bryan Little and either Nik Ehlers or Jack Roslovic when Roslovic was up with the club.
As for the knock on him about injuries, it’s true, he hasn’t played a full 82 game NHL season in his entire career, in fact his highest game play total came two seasons ago in the 2015-16 season when he dressed for 71 games. He was one short of that this season playing in just 70.
The funny thing about that is for as much flack as Perreault gets for “always being injured” it’s not like he’s the only one who deals with injuries.
Over the last three seasons, Perreault has dressed in 206 games.
Mark Scheifele’s three season total? 210. Up until this season when he finally got in a full 82 NHL games, Paul Stastny went four straight seasons where he couldn’t crack the 75 game played mark.
Injuries happen and Perreault’s play style lends itself to more risk of being injured, but he still gets in a fair share of games. Perhaps his injury issues are more talked about than others because when he’s not on the ice, his missed presence is very noticeable. In a strange way, that’s a positive.
Perreault played in only nine of the team’s 17 playoff games due to an upper body injury but it should be noted that a few of those games he was held out for precautionary reasons. When he did play, he averaged about a minute and a half less of ice time per game as he was kept to third line duty in a checking role. These factors, as well as playing tough checking teams like Nashville and Vegas – limited his offensive output to one goal.
Perreault has 2 years left on his current deal. The Jets are also in a bit of a Salary Cap crunch as they try to fit all the pending RFA deals under it. It’s something they could totally do and not even have to worry about it going forward, but then you factor in the current Paul Stastny question. The Jets want to retain Stastny but with their current roster status, it just wouldn’t happen and someone would have to be moved off the team. With a 4.125 million dollar deal, Perreault could be one of those players. He’s still valuable enough that he would fetch a pretty good return on that trade market, and the savings could make a Stastny deal happen.
This of course is nothing new for Perreault. He’s always been a prime target to be traded or sent away or left exposed in an expansion draft. Every year it seems like his status with the Jets is open to question.
If he’s with the Jets next season he’ll as always prove to be a valuable “plug and play” player no matter where he is in the lineup.