Mathieu Perreault has spent his entire career criminally underrated and this season has been no different. The Canadian forward has been a major contributor in a difficult season for the Winnipeg Jets, representing some hope while the team has struggled.
While Perreault has contributed throughout the season, the media has mainly focused on the contract negotiations of Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Jacob Trouba. In the meantime, Perreault has quietly put up points and done his best to keep the team afloat.
Perreault started his career with the Washington Capitals, posting a pair of 50 point seasons in the AHL before getting a sniff of playing time in the NHL. He gradually gained playing time and increased his production, but before he could hit his peak he was dealt to the Anaheim Ducks for John Mitchell and a fourth round pick, a miniscule package. Perreault spent one season with the Ducks, posting 43 points in 69 games before being allowed to leave in unrestricted free agency.
As a free agent, the best deal Perreault could find was a 3-year/$9M contract with the Winnipeg Jets, despite never being below a 50 percent Corsi For possession player in his career. That same offseason, despite never reaching 50 percent Corsi For in his entire career, Dave Bolland signed a 5-year/$27M contract with the Florida Panthers.
Since the signings, Perreault has maintained his above 50 percent possession play in addition to scoring 67 points in 102 games, compared to Bolland’s remaining below 50 percent and notching only 28 points in 78 games. Matt Moulson, another free agent the year Perreault signed, has scored 53 points in 116 games over the past two seasons.
Moulson’s $5M per year contract with the Buffalo Sabres eclipsed Perreault’s deal with the Jets, while Paul Stastny has only matched the point per game production Perreault despite making $4M more per season, proving Perreault was a bargain deal for Winnipeg.
This season Perreault has reached new heights, posting a higher points per game (0.65) than Jonathan Toews, Eric Staal, Pavel Datsyuk, and even his own teammate Andrew Ladd. He leads the Jets in Corsi For percentage, ranking second in assists, and third in points. The Jets are focusing on the extensions for Byfuglien, Ladd, and Trouba, but the team would be wise to consider an extension for Perreault as well.
Winnipeg ranks last in the Central Division standings and are at the crossroads of trying to be a contender and trying not to saddle themselves with overpaid players and risky business.
Byfuglien , Ladd, and Trouba are all terrific players in their own rights, but none of the trio have produced as consistently as Perreault at as low of a price in their careers. He previously was not appreciated enough to demand a large contract during his last stint in free agency, and despite his continued success, there is no evidence pointing to his commanding a large contract in his next stint.
Perreault does have a year left after this season on his contract, but getting ahead of the game with him prior to committing major money to the trio of high profile players would allow the Jets to allocate their money in the safest way.
Mathieu Perreault is a consistent forward that has increased his point per game production in each of the last three seasons. Players like that do not come around often, so the Jets must prioritize the 28-year-old before another team does.
Possession numbers via Hockey Reference. NHL player stats via ESPN.