We’ve focused mainly on the back half of round one and early stages of round two with our 2018 NHL Draft profiles for the Buffalo Sabres. Those are the picks that get the most attention and beyond that is more of a roll of the dice in the NHL entry draft.
This time I’m going to look a little further down the draft board and talk about a prospect that the Sabres could look at with the first pick of the fourth-round potentially in Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich.
Weight: 170 lbs.
Team: Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)
Perunovich is an older-age prospect in this draft. He’s 19-years-old and will actually turn 20 in the middle of August. He went undrafted in both the 2016 and 2017 drafts.
He’s also an undersized defenseman, which is why he’s so far down the board. Perunovich is only 5’9” and weighing in at 170 pounds currently.
It’s not so much the height that has pushed Perunovich down the draft boards. We’ve seen smaller players like Torey Krug and even Quinn Hughes who will be a top 10 pick, be successful as a defenseman.
His weight of being just 170 pounds is what has some scouts worried. He can easily be pushed around by the bigger players at the NHL level.
The Minnesota native caught my attention initially during the U20 World Junior Championships this past year in Buffalo. He played very well for Team USA scoring a goal and three points in seven games.
One player who I would be targeting in the mid-to-late rounds is Scott Perunovich. He's an overager, and undersized, but I thought he looked great at the World Juniors.— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) May 31, 2018
He shows off his poise with the puck here: pic.twitter.com/MuXwPyt3Ox
I continued to follow him the rest of the year with Bulldogs. Perunovich is a great skater which allows him to be so successful with his lack of size. He’s an offensively gifted player. The Freshman scored 11 goals and 36 points in 42 games this season for Minnesota-Duluth.
That great season earned him a lot of recognition in the NCAA. Perunovich won the top rookie in the NCAA (Tim Taylor Award), NCHC rookie of the year, NCHC best offensive defenseman, NCHC first all-star team and NCAA Championship All-Tournament team honors. On top of all that he won the National Championship with the Bulldogs.
He has great poise and playmaking ability in the offensive zone. Perunovich’s skating ability and excellent puck-moving skills make him an even bigger threat on the rush.
Last summer, @UMDMensHockey rookie Dman Scott Perunovich wasn't invited to the World Junior Summer Showcase to be evaluated for #TeamUSA. But thanks to a strong first half in #NCHCHockey, he made the U.S. National Junior Team anyway & brought home a with 4 Bulldogs— The NCHC (@TheNCHC) January 17, 2018
The downside, of course, is his defensive play. He struggles with positioning at times and is sometimes overmatched by bigger players. If he can add some more size in the next year, he could be ready to step into the AHL after his Sophomore season. You usually don’t see the quick of a jump from a player that is picked in the mid rounds.
Quick puck-moving defensemen are what you need in today’s NHL. Perunovich’s size can be off-putting to some. However, with the high ceiling, he brings offensively, I believe he could be a steal for a team in the third or fourth round.
Central Scouting has him listed as the 102nd ranked North American skater. It’ll be interesting to see where Perunovich ends up getting selected. The good news for him is that he’ll hear his name called this year.