The Dallas Stars brought in longtime Anaheim Ducks forward and rival Corey Perry on a one-year contract worth $3.25 million this offseason and thus far, the 34-year-old has produced, but not in all of the ways you might expect.
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Perry is 11th on the goals-scored list since entering the league in the 2005-06 season with 377, including five goals in 56 games this season. So, although he has a history of being a top-level goal-scorer with six 30-goal seasons in his 15-year career, he has not been able to light the lamp as frequently with the Stars.
How Does This Season Compare to His Career?
Not well. Perry has not been the best version of himself since putting on the Victory Green sweater. He is scoring at just a 0.09 goals-per-game rate, the worst of his career by far. For reference, his previous worst was six goals in a shortened season (31 games) during his last campaign with the Ducks in 2018-19 (0.19 goals-per-game).
Yes, Dallas is a better team than Anaheim and therefore, there are more stars (pun intended) and fewer goals to go around. The Stars also score fewer goals than average, currently 29th in the league with 178; the league average is 208 at this point in the season.
His assist numbers have not been much better with 15 helpers this season (0.27 per game), on pace for just 19. But perhaps Perry has made an influence despite his poor stats.
How Has Perry Made an Impact?
The 15-year veteran has still found ways to leave him imprint on hockey games, specifically with his physicality and his ability to get under the skin of his opponents.
Dallas fans know the latter all too well. For years, Perry has been a nuisance in the side of Stars players. Now, he’s doing the same for the Stars.
Most recently, Perry drew multiple penalties and created scoring chances against the Nashville Predators by causing them to focus more on individual revenge against him for actions during the 2020 NHL Winter Classic, than the game itself.
Perry was ejected in the first period of the Winter Classic for elbowing the head of Ryan Ellis and served a subsequential five-game suspension, becoming the first player ejected during an outdoor game.
So when the Predators saw Perry and the Stars on the schedule for a home-and-home, they took full advantage of taking shots back at No. 10. In the end, the Preds had the last laugh, winning 2-0 in Nashville and 1-0 in Dallas on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
However, it wasn’t just the Winter Classic where Perry displayed his physicality. Serving mostly on the bottom-six, Perry’s scrappy play has become regular and expected in the Dallas lineup.
What Will the Stars Do This Offseason?
Perry is an unrestricted free agent as soon as his one-year contract runs out at the end of this season, but will Dallas bring him back?
It’s hard to say but my gut tells me they won’t. With young stars such as Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz showcasing not only the scoring ability but some of that physical play that Perry has been providing, it’s unlikely the Stars will dish out more money on the aging forward.
Another offseason means another draft and with former Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal serving as the interim assistant for the boys in Big-D, familiarity with the AHL-affiliated roster is at a premium now more so than ever, meaning he knows who might be ready to pull up to the next level.
If the team does decide to bring Perry back, I don’t expect that Dallas will match his $3.25 million payday from this season, especially after the all-time lows.
Although Perry has struggled, it’s important to note that he is coming off a season shortened by knee surgery which caused him to miss five months last season. It also takes time to readjust to a new team, especially after spending so long in one spot. Fellow newcomer Joe Pavelski took a while to get the game under his belt in green as well but has come on as of late.
Perry may be leaving Dallas after a short stint, but Pavelski has two more years remaining on his three-year, $21 million contract.