ANALYSIS: Jets’ Cole Perfetti has opportunity to take on big role this season

With the first week of Winnipeg Jets training camp winding down, and the preseason schedule now underway, one of the ongoing storylines will be about a certain player’s ability to rise to the occasion.

Cole Perfetti’s opportunity to be the number two centre of the Winnipeg Jets this season is much more about taking a stranglehold on a position than it is about battling for a job.

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Unless something completely unexpected happens, performance-wise, we’re pretty sure Winnipeg’s 2020 first-round draft pick is going to be a top-six forward for this hockey club. And a member of the second powerplay unit.

With his skill set and hockey IQ, it makes no sense to suggest otherwise.

But Perfetti’s ability to stay in the middle, and not return to the wing where he played for his first two NHL seasons — now that fits into the category of “to be determined.”

The absence of Nikolaj Ehlers — sidelined by neck spasms pretty much since the start of camp — represents a bit of a challenge with the Dashing Dane ticketed to begin the season on that second line along with Nino Neiderreiter and Perfetti.

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It stands to reason the focus on young Cole will be his proficiency in the faceoff circle and his play without the puck on Winnipeg’s side of centre. If he’s able to make his reads correctly, and quickly, that’s going to go a long way toward presenting a strong case to remain right where he is.

But increasing his production of just over a half point per game, and consistently, will also be a factor — along with staying healthy after being able to play in only 69 games his first two NHL seasons.

So far, everything we have seen and heard from Cole Perfetti lends itself to the belief that he sees the opportunity as opposed to being sidetracked by the difficulty of the challenge ahead of him.

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg Jets insider Jamie Thomas on training camp'

Winnipeg Jets insider Jamie Thomas on training camp

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