With the 2023 NHL Draft coming up next week, we're profiling some of the players that may be of interest to the Flames when they make their selection at 16th overall. In this edition, we take a closer look at forward Gabe Perreault of the USNTDP.

Height: 5'11" Weight: 163 lbs.
Position: Right Wing
Hometown: Sherbrooke, Que.
Final Ranking: 10th (North American Skaters)


Gabe Perreault knows a thing or two about 'goal'-setting.

Something, say, in the 35-40 range would be a victory on all fronts - even a stretch, the winger admits.

"Beating that was not something I thought I could do," he laughed, looking back on the season of a lifetime. "I definitely had pretty expectations of myself, but I felt like that was the number (to beat).

"So… it was pretty crazy."

Perreault scored 35, alright. In fact, he did it in Game 38 of his U.S. Under-18 season, leaving another 25 dates from January through April to make history. When it was all said and done, the Hinsdale, Illinois native scored 132 points (53G, 79A) to pass Auston Matthews and become the national team program's all-time single-season point getter.

This is no small feat.

The list of NTDP players in the Top 15 in all-time scoring includes the aforementioned Matthews, Jack Hughes, Clayton Keller, Patrick Kane, Cole Caufield, Phil Kessel and former Flame Matthew Tkachuk.

A who's who, of the red, white and blue.

And now Perreault - the son of former NHL great Yanic, and the brother of Anaheim Ducks prospect Jacob - will soon be following in their footsteps as an elite, first-round draft pick.

Asked why, in his mind, he smashed the initially "high" expectations he had for himself, Perreault paused, before taking a 10,000-foot view of how his game is tailored for the pro level.

"For me, I think my hockey IQ is what sets me apart," Perreault explained. "One of the things I really pride myself on is my ability to see the play before it happens, which I think is an advantage for me out there. Those are the situations I like to be in. The powerplay, or at the end of games when we need a goal, that's when I thrive because I can make plays and generate offence without overthinking it."

Dan Muse - Head Coach of the U.S. Under-18 squad - certainly agrees with assessment, telling Nick Cotsonika at NHL.com that Perreault's hockey sense is "crazy."

"It's nuts. His sense of the game, his feel for the game, his understanding of time and space, the anticipation that he has, like, he sees plays develop that very few other players can. … You combine that with the stick skills that he has, the mobility, all those different things, it makes for such a dangerous offensive player."

The 5-foot-11, 163-lb. left-shot forward does everything at a high level. While he considers himself more of the playmaking, pass-first type (as his record-setting 79 helpers would attest), he has an excellent shot and loves to attack defenders 1-on-1, utilizing his impressive puck-handling abilities to open up lanes and evade cover.

Combined, his line with fellow NTDP standouts, Will Smith and Ryan Leonard, put up a sizzling 353 points to finish 1-2-3 in team scoring. While it could be argued that all three were the benefactors of each other - forming one of the great lines in Team USA history - their individual skill is undeniable. Put a great playmaker like Perreault on a unit with two elite snipers (and vice-versa), and this the result.

Surely, the same could prove to be true at the next level, as well.

While Smith and Leonard are both expected to be Top-10 picks, Perreault - despite putting up bigger numbers - could be more of a mid-to-late first-round option. Many scouts attribute that projection to his skating mechanics, but Perreault is putting in the work to help develop that part of his game.

He isn't the biggest player in the world, either, but that's hardly a concern with how diligent he is off the ice. When he arrived at the program only two years ago, the 16-year-old was about 20-30 pounds lighter than he is today - and at that weight, strength was a legitimate a concern.

No longer.


As committed as he is to honing his craft between the boards, Perreault - who says he looks up to players like Trevor Zegras for his creativity with the puck - is equally ambitious about his off-ice training regimen.

And the Summer of 2023 promises to be another big year.

"The biggest thing I need is to keep adding weight and muscle, so that's the biggest thing for me," he said. "I'll try to stay off the ice a little bit more than I'm used to, but still put in the time to work on my skating, my shot and everything like that.

"There's no one thing, really.

"I'm trying to be great at all aspects of the game."