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Undrafted in both the 2016 and 2017 NHL Drafts, Scott Perunovich entered his first season of NCAA Hockey looking to silence the doubters and get himself back on the radars of NHL scouts. As a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he did just that. Perunovich put up 11 goals and 25 assists for 36 points in 42 games for the Bulldogs. He helped the Bulldogs to the National Championship and took home a bunch of personal hardware as well. He was on the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team; on the NCHC all-rookie team; NCHC first all-star team; and was named NCHC best offensive defenseman along with NCHC rookie of the year. He was also named an NCAA West First All-Star team, and the NCAA freshman of the year.
The terrific season got the attention of USA Hockey. Perunovich was part of Team USA at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo. He put up one goal and two assists for three points in seven games, and helped the American squad to a Bronze medal.
Scott Perunovich Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born August 18th, 1998 — Hibbing, Minnesota
Height 5’9″ — Weight 164 lbs [175 cm / 74 kg]
Being just 5-foot-9, Perunovich needs to use his skating ability to overcome his lack of size. He is able to do just that. He is a dynamic skater in both directions. His first step and acceleration are particularly strong, as he reaches top speed in just a few strides. While that top speed isn’t among the fastest in the draft class, it is still very good. His lateral movement, agility and edgework are all top notch. This allows him to cover a lot of ice. Perunovich can pinch at the blue line or join the rush, and still get back defensively. He also has the quick pivots to transition quickly from defence to offence and vice-versa. His crossovers add power to his stride. Perunovich has a low centre of gravity, and this makes him tough to knock off the puck.
Perunovich creates offence through poise and creativity. He has the puck handling skills to extend plays and wait for a teammate to get open. When they do, he can make tape-to-tape passes through tight areas. Perunovich has excellent vision and hockey IQ. He is a true power play quarterback. When he has the puck in his own zone, Perunovich has a variety of weapons. He can skate the puck out of danger and start the rush himself. He can also make a long home run pass to a streaking teammate, looking for that breakaway. Perunovich can also headman the puck to a teammate and join the rush as a trailer.
Perunovich’s slap shot is average. However, he knows how to get it on the net. Perunovich uses his lateral agility and puck handling ability to walk the line and open up shooting lanes. When he gets one, he keeps the puck low and gets it on the net, giving his teammates opportunities at rebounds and tip-ins. Perunovich is willing to vary things, using snapshots or wrist shots if he does not have the time and space for a big wind-up. He will also find opportunities to sneak in from the point to let that shot go from the top of the circles.
Perunovich’s defensive game is where the lack of size might be a bit of an issue. He can be overpowered by bigger, stronger forwards in the cycle game and has problems clearing the front of the net. There are also some issues with his positioning that need to improve. Perunovich is able to get away with some riskier plays at the NCAA level, but it is unclear if that part of his game will be able to translate to the pros, without burning him too often.
Projection and Comparison
Perunovich has the offensive ability to thrive as a puck-moving defenceman. He must get stronger and add muscle to compete in the defensive end, however. This will help him to overcome his lack of size. Perunovich will likely spend at least one more season in the NCAA but could be closer to playing pro than most picks in this range, due to the fact he is older than most of the draft class. Perunovich’s game is reminiscent of Shayne Gostisbehere, but this is a stylistic comparison onlt and not based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages of Perunovich that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
ST. PAUL, MN – APRIL 05: Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs defenseman Scott Perunovich (7) in action in the 1st period during the Frozen Four semifinal game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on April 5, 2018 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)