Blues Face Tough Decision This Offseason with Perron

The St. Louis Blues have some big decisions to make this offseason, and one of them is what to do with forward David Perron. Based on last season, and early this season, it seemed like an easy decision to offer him a contract extension, but things have changed since then. The decision has become much more difficult, and there are many reasons for that.

Perron Struggling

Perron started the season with six goals in the first five games, scoring in three of the five games. It looked like it was going to be a big season once again for him after reaching over a point-per-game pace last season. However, he suffered an upper-body injury on Nov. 26 against the Chicago Blackhawks, and his season has gone downhill since then.

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

Before the injury, Perron had 18 points in 20 games, which was just another day at the office for him. But the injury and the league-wide COVID pause meant he didn’t return to play until Dec. 29 despite returning to practice 20 days earlier. With all of these things and some unfamiliar linemates, it has turned his season upside down. It may sound like an excuse, but he hasn’t been the same player as he was in October and November, and there must be multiple real reasons for that. It’s notable that his ice time is way down this season, nearly two full minutes compared to the last couple of seasons.

Related: Blues Need Perron to Return to Form

Since returning from injury, Perron has just two goals and four assists in 17 games. He’s been much better of late, back on a line with Ryan O’Reilly, and he does have value outside of goal and point production. Of concern is that he has 12 scoreless games of the 17 he has played since returning; that’s not normal. The problem is that his last four seasons were fantastic, so it becomes a question of whether this is just a down season that he’ll bounce back from. He’s 33 years old, which further complicates the matter.

Perron’s Possible Extension

The free-agent contract that Perron signed to make his third return to St. Louis was four years and carried a salary-cap hit of $4 million. It was a steal considering he was coming off of a season of 66 points in 70 games and was a leader for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. It may have shown his desire to return to the Blues, and the contract has been a win overall.

St. Louis Blues David Perron
St. Louis Blues left wing David Perron (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

It’s hard to find contract comparables, but former Blue Mike Hoffman was in a somewhat similar spot last offseason. He was coming off of a down year, for his standards, with 17 goals in 52 games, yet he still got a good deal, signing a 3-year with, $4.5 million per year deal with the Montreal Canadiens, which was likely based on his track record of six straight seasons with 20 or more goals before 2020-21. That deal hasn’t worked out to this point, but the Canadiens have the worst record in the NHL, and he has just nine goals in 37 games.

The difference is that Hoffman is more of a one-dimensional player than Perron and is a year younger. Perron’s value is higher than Hoffman’s, but Blues general manager (GM) Doug Armstrong has to be worried about his numbers this season. However, I trust Perron to figure it out and have a strong finish.

Perron Should Test the Market

At one point, I would have thought the Blues would get an in-season extension done with Perron, similar to what they did with Brayden Schenn during the 2019-20 season. That ship has sailed, unless the Blues can get him to sign for way less than originally expected. Overall, this decision seems like an easy one for Armstrong, and he should not have to think too much about it.

David Perron (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The clear decision is to allow Perron to hit the open market and see what is out there. The Blues have a comfortable amount of forward depth, and if he finds his way back to the Blues on a team-friendly deal, that is more than fine. He’s always going to be a legend of the franchise; he’s played 643 games for the Blues and was an integral part of their Stanley Cup victory in 2019.

If the Blues can get him to return on a one or two-year deal with a similar cap hit to his current $4 million, that would be the ideal scenario. But I expect a desperate team to offer him a better contract, and there is nothing wrong with that. The Blues should feel good about the future of their forward group without him. If this is the final season of Perron in St. Louis, I can’t wait for him to return to St. Louis and be honored by the organization and fans.

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