The St. Louis Blues’ 2020-21 season had its highs and lows, but ultimately ended in disappointment after the team fell in four games to the Colorado Avalanche in Round 1. In this series, we’ll look back on the season player by player, and evaluate each player’s performance as an individual, with an eye towards their future with the team.
In this series, few report cards will be easier to write than David Perron’s. When the season ended, general manager Doug Armstrong clearly stated that Perron was one of only three players in the organization who exceeded expectations. He finished with 58 points in 56 games, making him the first Blues player since Pavol Demitra in 2002-03 to achieve a point per game output. There is virtually nothing to criticize about the Sherbrooke, Quebec native’s performance this season. But let’s take a look at why things went so right.
What Went Right: Everything
Perron’s season was more than anyone could have dreamed for the 32-year-old veteran on a $4 million average annual value (AAV). Building on a campaign in which he notched 60 points in 71 games, his second-highest total ever, he had probably his best offensive season. Perron finished with 19 goals and 39 assists for 58 points in the shortened 56 game season. He also led a power play unit that finished sixth in the league in conversion percentage, with 21 of his points coming with the man advantage.
Perron’s most significant game came on May 3, when the winger played in his 900th NHL game, which was also his 600th with the Blues, and he scored his 600th NHL point, which was also his 400th with the Blues. Soon, Perron will likely climb into the ranks of the top 10 Blues in games played and scoring, if health continues to be on his side. It’s rare that a 32-year-old in the NHL puts together what may be his best-ever season, but that’s exactly what the Blues saw in Perron in 2020-21.
What Went Wrong: COVID
The one and only complaint anyone could have with Perron in the 2020-21 season is that he missed the playoffs. But that can hardly be blamed on him. Shortly ahead of Game 1 of the first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche, the team learned that their top scorer had tested positive for COVID-19. The unlucky break ultimately kept Perron out for the entirety of the four-game sweep the Blues suffered.
In his postseason media availability, Perron insisted that he had been vaccinated against the virus that caused a global pandemic and shortened consecutive NHL seasons. But the vaccine failed him, and, due to the League’s protocols, he was unavailable for the playoffs. It’s fair to question how big a difference Perron could have made in a series against what was clearly a better team, though the team certainly struggled to replace him. Either way, his absence was not his fault, and was nothing more than a disappointing ending to a fantastic season.
- First Blues player since 2002-03 to score a point per game or more
- 29 points in home games, 29 points in away games
- 39 points in 27 winning games
- T-13 in points (with Artemi Panarin and Aleksander Barkov)
Final Grade: A+
A deep dive into his advanced stats might show that he over-performed a bit this season, but Perron earned nothing but respect from fans and teammates. It is no small feat to be a point per game player in the modern-day NHL, and his offense was critical to the success of a team that struggled to find scoring at times during the season. Giving Perron anything less than a top grade would be picking at nits, and there are plenty of players deserving of a lot more criticism than him this season.
What’s Next for Perron?
In theory, Perron will reach unrestricted free agency after next season. For a long time, Blues fans joked about the winger being exposed for the expansion draft again by the Blues, as he was before being selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017. Now, those jokes are a distant memory. There is every reason to believe that Perron will re-sign with the Blues and probably finish his career in St. Louis. He even joked about the team needing to offer him an eight-year deal to keep him until retirement. But Armstrong had the final word: “he’s here next year and as long as he wants to play I don’t know why the Blues wouldn’t want him.” If the Quebecer continues to age like fine wine, maybe an eight-year deal isn’t such a bad idea.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.