- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau sees something he likes in Mathieu Perreault that few others do.

“Quite frankly he reminds me very much of somebody like me when I played,” Boudreau said, “so I want him to be a successful player.”

Much like Boudreau, Perreault is undersized, listed at 5-foot-10 but maybe hitting that mark with skates on. During spurts with the Capitals, he was never able to prove why he should be a permanent fixture, so he was faced with demotions to the Hershey Bears.

But this training camp was something of a revelation for Perreault, who seemingly blew away the rest of the competition for the final roster spot — namely Cody Eakin and Mattias Sjogren — and made the team thanks to a strong preseason.

“I think it was evident that Mathieu played better — and that’s why he’s here and they’re not,” Boudreau said.

Perreault has been around these parts for a while now, but he’s still just 23 years old. He led the Caps in exhibition points with three goals and two assists, while at times skating on the top line.

“It feels good. I’ve been waiting for it the past three years, and finally I got in and I’ve been working really hard. I think I deserved it,” Perreault said. “I showed up in good shape and ready to go. I got a few points in the games I got in, and that’s what helped me make the team.”

Production and hard work combined to get Perreault the final roster spot, which may end up meaning he’s the 13th forward. But the center can make $525,000 in the NHL this season compared to $75,000 in the American Hockey League.

Just being around here is a reward of sorts for Perreault, as Boudreau wanted to put some value in the preseason.

“I’ve got to believe if you want to make preseason worth anything, if you want to make training camp have any validity to it, you have to reward people that have done well,” the coach said. “For guys that are on the bubble, you have to reward people that have done a good job and he came in and he did a great job and he played better than the other guys.”

This camp was a long time coming for Perreault, who barely missed out last year and then got 35 games with the Caps before being sent down to Hershey after the trade deadline. There was no room for a guy who couldn’t find consistency — and it’s something he thought about when working out in the summer.

“This is what I’ve been waiting for. Last year was hard for me to go back down, but this year I had one thing on my mind and it was to stay up here,” he said. “I think I did what I had to do, and I’m really happy to be here.”

As “depressed” as Perreault was, according to Boudreau, after getting sent down last season, the coach insisted the organization hadn’t lost faith in him. While bringing in guys like Sjogren and Christian Hanson and bringing back Chris Bourque, the team felt all along that Perreault could make it, general manager George McPhee said.

“It tells you that they kind of have confidence in you,” Perreault said. “They know what I’m capable of doing and that I could be a great player at this level. It’s just a matter of doing it every night.”

Consistency isn’t tangible, but Perreault talked about eating and sleeping better and making sure that his legs wouldn’t get tired as they did last season. He worked hard to earn this roster spot — and now the goal is to keep it.

“You have to let people that if they’ve earned their spot to at least start,” Boudreau said. “Now the important thing is for them to stay there. It’s one thing to get to the top, but it’s another thing to stay there.”

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