The 2010 NHL Entry Draft is quickly approaching, and, thus far, the Flames' first pick will be in the third round, 64th overall. I've decided to profile a few players whom the Flames could potentially select come June 25th-26th. Today's player is Avon Old Farms/UMass winger Mike Pereira. Ranked 63rd by Central Scouting in their final rankings, he moved up 14 spots from his mid-term ranking of 77th overall.
Team: Avon Old Farms School (Connecticut)
Weight: 170 lbs.
In his second and final season of high school hockey, Mike Pereira led the underdog Winged Beavers in scoring with 28 goals and 64 points en route to their eighth New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association championship. His performance in the playoffs, where he out-played fellow draft prospect Kevin Hayes (ranked 26th overall by CSS), is what drew the attention of NHL scouts, including regional scout Gary Eggleston, who had this to say about Pereira in the New England Hockey Journal:
"His skating ability (is his best attribute). First of all, he has that speed that allows him to see a hole and get through it. He’s very dangerous with the puck down low; he’s a good stick-handler who’s very patient and sees the ice so well. He’s also got a very accurate wrist shot that he uses effectively."
In an interview with McKeen's, Pereira assessed his strengths and weaknesses from his own point of view:
I think I play a fast-paced, high-tempo game. I consider myself a playmaker. I make plays and open up time and space for myself with my speed. My strengths are my speed, my vision, and my positioning in the offensive zone. I believe that I need to get stronger and support the puck better.
I think I have to work on my strength and conditioning to play at the next level.
I believe that my shot is the most underrated facet to my game. It has improved in the past couple years and I have put a lot of time into it. It might not be the hardest shot in the game, but it gets where it needs to be. I think I work hard as well. I'm not the biggest guy on the ice by any means, but I still go in the corners and work against kids a lot bigger than me. I enjoy it.
Pereira attended the recent NHL draft combine, where he placed within the top ten in four tests indicating speed and fitness. This fall, he will attend UMass-Amherst, where he will enter the ranks of NCAA hockey.
Here's what UMass blog Fear the Triangle had to say in their scouting report of Pereira:
He had very good vision of the ice on both offense and defense. I was happy to see him on the first penalty killing unit which hopefully means he could be an asset on defense. I didn’t see too much physical play from him, but there was an instance early on where he completely levelled a Deerfield player along the boards to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
UMass lost two forwards to the NHL this past season, as Casey Wellman (Minnesota Wild) and James Marcou (San Jose Sharks) both signed on as unrestricted free agents, so Pereira should see a decent amount of ice time in his first season of college hockey. Much like the majority of potential Flames draftees I've evaluated so far, Pereira is a good skater who is skilled offensively but is somewhat lacking in size and strength; however that doesn't appear to be a huge impediment to his overall game, and is something that will likely improve as he progresses in his college hockey career. Although the Flames have largely avoided drafting college players after what looks to be a few failed experiments, Pereira is a guy I wouldn't be adverse to them selecting, should he be available.