UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Mathieu Perreault received the opportunity he long wondered if he would ever get from the Washington Capitals when they traded him to the Anaheim Ducks back on Sept. 29, two days before the season began.
But in addition to the increase in ice time and a more substantial role, there’s been an unexpected benefit of joining the Ducks that was evident here Saturday as Perreault made his way from the hotel across parking lots toward Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, flanked by future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne.
“It’s been unreal, to have the chance to play with Teemu most of the games I’ve dressed, and just having the chance to be around a guy like that every day is unbelievable,” said Perreault, 25. “Knowing it’s his last year – or at least, that’s what he’s saying – I just try to spend as much time around him as I can. To even sit around and hear stories, he’s seen everything, it’s just fun to listen to him talk. It’s a privilege to get to play with a guy like that and learn from him.”
With the occasional exception of a back-to-back game when Coach Bruce Boudreau sits Selanne as part of a larger plan to keep the 43-year-old star fresh for the full year, Perreault has played alongside the Finnish Flash on the Ducks’ second line.
It’s been quite the way to receive additional responsibility and learn how to improve for Perreault. After mixed results early on as he played through a lower-body injury, Perreault appears to be finding his groove with the Ducks.
In 32 games with Anaheim this year, Perreault has seven goals and 12 assists while making the most of playing a career-high average of 14:10 per night. He’s scored goals in each of the past two games.
As difficult as it was during training camp — when Perreault was trying to guess where he stood with the Capitals, who opted to part ways with him for salary cap space that would allow them to keep rookies Tom Wilson and Michael Latta on the opening night roster — this has been a positive move for him.
“Coming to a new team when you know the coaching staff makes it a lot easier,” Perreault said. “Bruce knew where and when to put me on the ice, he knew exactly what I was capable of doing, and I think it’s worked out just great.”
Perreault, like Boudreau, will be making his first return visit to Verizon Center as a member of the opposition Monday night, and he acknowledges it’s going to be a bit strange.
“I’ve never even been in the visiting locker room at Verizon; I don’t know what it looks like,” Perreault said. “I love D.C., that’s the team that gave me my first chance, but at the same time, Anaheim’s been a great place for me.”