With the Pittsburgh Penguins heading to western reaches of Canada to face the Edmonton Oilers, one cannot help but consider everything former Oiler and current Penguin winger David Perron has failed to do during his tenure with his latest team.
Since being traded to the Penguins for a 2015 1st-round selection and forward Rob Klinkhammer on Jan. 2, 2015, Perron has slumped tremendously. Before scoring a goal in the Wednesday night’s 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, Perron had not tickled the twine since March 15. That streak breaking goal was only his fifth point since that date. That is 29 games, including the playoffs.
Before coming to Pittsburgh, Perron had been a player worthy of a 1st-round pick in a trade negotiation. Apart from his 2007-2008 rookie campaign, an injury-shortened 2010-2011 and the lockout abridged 2012-2013, Perron has scored more than 40 points every season. Even during the lockout season, he was on pace to match that mark.
His advanced numbers before coming to Pittsburgh also show a player of considerable talent. His CorsiFor per 60 minutes of ice time (CF60) during the period between 2011 and 2014 was a solid 51.50. Proving that he could play both sides of the puck, his CorsiAgainst per 60 minutes of ice time (CA60) during that same period was 53.90. This David Perron was a player most teams would love to have.
Throughout his disappointing start to this season, Perron has managed to maintain a relatively stable CF60 of 50.66. His CA60, however, has ballooned to 61.92. In other words, his offensive abilities are no longer resulting in points and he is quickly becoming a defensive liability. This David Perron might soon become a problem for the Penguins.
What is the solution for Perron’s woes?
Considering that Perron is in a contract year with a reasonable $3.8125 million cap hit, it is impossible to not consider him a potential trade piece. Even though he has disappointed mightily in recent months, he is a 27-year-old winger with several seasons of solid play under his belt. There would be takers, even if the Penguins are forced to take a loss in what they dished out for his services.
However, many would consider this move to be too drastic and I, for the time being, would be inclined to agree. Instead, Perron’s skills could be better served else in the lineup. He has been receiving time alongside a streaking Evgeni Malkin, but has clearly found difficulty in breaking through offensively.
Perhaps switching him around with, say, Sergei Plotnikov could net a breakthrough for both players. The Russian forward would be able to test his offensive mettle on a better line alongside a countryman while Perron would get a chance to find his sea legs.
The season is still young and the time for experimentation is now. That being said, David Perron had better turn it on or he might find himself shipped out of Pittsburgh not too long after he arrived.
Will has written for a number of publications, varying from print to digital media. His work has been featured on SI.com, PensLabyrinth, The 405, Metacritic and The Social Humanist. Beyond hockey, he has written on the subjects of music and politics.