Just because it’s June, that doesn’t mean Scott Perunovich is impervious to more accolades.
The Minnesota Duluth sophomore-to-be added another line to his hockey resume on Saturday after being selected in the second round, No. 45 overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft at American Airlines Arena in Dallas.
Perunovich - a speedy 5-foot-9, 172-pound puck-moving defenseman - had gone undrafted in his first two years of eligibility, but didn’t have to wait long this time around to hear his name called. He’s the first Hibbing native to be drafted since the Los Angeles Kings took Kelly Fairchild in the seventh round of the 1991 draft.
Perunovich is coming off a historic freshman season with the national champion Bulldogs that saw him named the NCAA and NCHC Rookie of the Year. He landed on a number of All-American teams - most notably the American Hockey Coaches Association first team - as well as the All-NCHC first team and rookie team.
Perunovich’s 36 points (11 goals and 25 assists) not only led UMD in scoring - the first time a defenseman did that since 1988-89 - but were a record for a freshman defenseman at UMD.
After accomplishing all of that in a single season, it would seem Perunovich has nothing left to prove at the college level, and that he should sign with Blues and make the jump to the pros.
That’s what UMD’s competition in the NCAA would probably like, but don’t count on Perunovich signing based on what he told the News Tribune prior to leaving for Dallas with family and friends.
“I think I have a lot of work to do. I’ve talked to some people about it. I have a great coaching staff at UMD,” Perunovich said. “I definitely need a lot more development for that (turning pro) to even be a question right now.”
Perunovich said he still needs to improve his play in the defensive zone. He needs to build up his strength to compete at the NHL level. His shot could use some more work, as well, he said.
“Everything is faster at the next level, so I think I have to work on everything before I feel confident enough,” Perunovich said. “I know where I’m at right now.”