Blues’ Cap Issues Mean David Perron Will Likely Be Lost in Free Agency

The St. Louis Blues veteran forward David Perron will reportedly hit free agency for the third time in his career on Wednesday. After failing to come to an agreement with the team, this will mark the first time that he will openly go to market. Though signing him to an extension is on the forefront of many fans’ minds, an extension could have mixed results long-term for the franchise.

Perron Among Elite Company

This past season, the 33-year-old ranked eighth on the team in points with 27 goals and 57 points over 67 games, a 33 goal, and a nearly 70-point pace over 82 games. Had those statistics come to fruition, it would have boosted him to fifth on the team in points. Over his 15-year career in the NHL, three of his most successful seasons have come with the Blues, all of which have been under his most recent contract. Between 2019-2022, he played in 251 regular season games scoring 94 goals and 221 points. Not only that, but his numbers on the man-advantage have been otherworldly. Over the last five seasons, he ranks third among all players in the NHL in power-play points per 60. The only others on the list include top players like Nikita Kucherov, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Steven Stamkos.

David Perron St. Louis Blues
David Perron, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Players of that caliber do not grow on trees and will be difficult to come across on the open market or would require substantial assets given up in a trade. Right now, the team has a beloved friend and teammate that could play to a high level well into his late 30s like Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Mats Zuccarello. Of Perron and what he means to the team, head coach Craig Berube stated:

“He’s a helluva hockey player, for sure. Highly competitive. And a great shot. Can run a power play as good as anybody I’ve ever coached…He’s like a right-arm extension for the coaches in my opinion, preaching the right things all the time and teaching our young guys,” (from ‘St. Louis is a perfect fit, but will Perron return?,’ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/1/22)

Blues Have Future to Keep in Mind

The interest appears to be there from both sides of the table. When asked about having Perron return at the team’s end of the season press conference, general manager Doug Armstrong stated:

“I sure would. I feel like I’ve been here a long time and he precedes me. He’s been in and out over that term, but when I got here, he was here back in what, 2008? He’s been around a long time. He’s a hell of a player. He fights Father Time better than anyone, better than 95 to 99 percent of the NHL. What he did this year was spectacular…He’s a very good player, but more importantly he’s a better person. I’ve seen him grow, become a husband and a father, I see the influence he has on our younger players. They see the competitiveness he has on a daily basis. He’s a true pro and been a very good St. Louis Blue. If we can make it work out, I’d love to.”

However, this is likely the forward’s last chance at a payday, one that could finally net him an average annual value north of $5 million per season. The club’s front office knows what kind of a player and a leader they have in Perron. However, they also know what kind of players they will also need to be extending in just a year. As of today, the Blues only have three players (Pavel Buchnevich, Brayden Schenn, and Brandon Saad) under contract beyond the 2022-23 season. With key members of their forward core like team captain Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, and future leaders of the organization, Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou all on the last year of their respective contracts, the front office knows that every penny will need to count if the team intends to remain competitive moving forward.

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The club is also still in need of a backup goaltender to pair with Jordan Binnington, contract extensions for Scott Perunovich and Niko Mikkola to get done, and will ideally need cap space to fit a top-pairing left-shot defenseman. By offering the contract that Perron is likely looking for this offseason, the team could be severely limiting themselves on the quality of players they can roster for the foreseeable future. There have been plenty of examples in the recent history of franchises extending players in the right way like the Tampa Bay Lightning. There have also been examples of teams over-extending contracts to players, forced to abandon ship with a massive fire sale and rebuilding like the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues have the assets on their current roster to remain competitive with the rest of the NHL and compete once again for a Stanley Cup. With an estimated $9 million left in cap space, they will need to choose to re-sign and extend a valued member of their squad with a majority of their cap space and fill their remaining roster spots with league minimum contracts, or move on from Perron and fill them with higher-quality options from the free agency market.

“I’d love to be back,” Perron said. “The desire has been there for me last year, during the year, and right now. So it is what it is.”

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