The Hawks lines are coming into focus now that they’ve gotten through a few preseason games, i.e., DeBrincat-Strome-Shaw (ugh) are your second line, and Toews and Kane are joined at the hip for better or worse on the top line, with CCYP trying to find the least bad option to skate with them. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the bottom-six rabble, of which the Hawks have no shortage. Brendan Perlini is yet another piece of that rabble, and his role on this team is still as unpredictable as it was last spring. Let’s do it:
2018-19 Stats (w/ Hawks)
46 GP – 12 G – 3 A – 15 P
45.2 CF% (-3.8 CF% Rel) – 40.4 xGF%
52.6 oZS% – 10:36 Avg. TOI
A Brief History: When Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini came our way around the same time as our Thanksgiving food comas, Perlini was expected to be the more reliable producer, while Strome was the will-he-won’t-he prospect who hadn’t yet reached his potential. (I think it’s still debatable what that potential and its ceiling may be, but that’s for another day and another preview.)
Perlini ended up being serviceable on the second line and mostly underwhelming, until March hit and he showed flashes of…well, maybe not quite brilliance, but definitely shininess, scoring eight goals in seven games. However, following that offensive outburst he promptly turned around and started acting like a bored, cranky teenager who couldn’t be bothered to win a puck battle. Colliton chose that moment to give the appearance of having testicles and benched Perlini for his insolence, once during a game and then just sending him to the press box for a little while. The Hawks dithered about re-signing him in the offseason but eventually inked him to a one-year, 875K extension that basically screams “this is your last warning.”
It Was the Best of Times: If Alex Nylander turns out to be the perennial loafer we expect him to be, then Perlini could earn a spot in the top six (that’s also dependent on Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad but we’re aiming for the best-case scenario for Perlini here). Honestly, it’s pretty sad to think that our top six depends on who’s less of a lazy dumbshit, but here we are, your 2019-2020 Blackhawks. Maybe Perlini finally has a true breakout year with 40+ points and gets signed as an actual depth scorer for two to three years at a still-affordable $3 mildo or so.
It Was the BLURST of Times: Conversely, Perlini could end up unmotivated and salty, and as a result he fades into irrelevance in the press box as Nylander, Kubalik, Wedin, et. al., fill the holes up and down the lineup. Not even useful to trade, Perlini becomes an official has-been-never-was.
Prediction: Brendan Perlini will earn himself a roster spot, albeit in the bottom six. I’m not convinced that Nylander is any better, and we know Zack Smith isn’t, so if the organ-I-zation keeps burying superior talent in the AHL or at least not bothering to give the likes of Sikura (either one) or Kurashev a look in the regular season, then there’s probably room on a line for Perlini. I don’t expect he’ll turn into some offensive juggernaut—we’re probably talking in the 25-point range. But he’s not chronically lazy, and that ends up being good enough…great seats still available.