Ducks Can’t Pinch Pennies On Perron

Off-season madness is well underway for the Anaheim Ducks. General manager Bob Murray dealt goaltender Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs just hours after locking up defenseman Sami Vatanen, then extended qualifying offers to pending restricted free agents Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm shortly thereafter. With those initial tasks now out of the way, Murray should focus his attention on re-signing unrestricted free agent David Perron.

The 28-year old Sherbrooke, Quebec, native was brought to Anaheim in a January trade that sent Carl Hagelin to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although a tremendously gifted skater, Hagelin never seemed to find his place in Anaheim. Perron brought a much different look to the Ducks’ forward group; serious playmaking chops combined with a desire to wreak havoc in the offensive zone. He instantly clicked with Ryan Getzlaf, propelling Anaheim into a truly dominant stretch of hockey, recording eight goals and 20 points in 28 games.

Most feared the worst when he was sent flying into the boards in a late-May contest against Winnipeg, separating his shoulder and effectively cutting short his regular season. The Ducks struggled during his absence. Wins no longer rolled in, and consistent offense was hard to come by. For a while, it looked as though they were sinking back into the bad habits that had hampered them in the beginning of the season. An injury to Rakell also contributed to that slide, but Perron’s injury certainly didn’t help.

Thankfully for Anaheim, he returned in time for Game 1 of their first-round matchup against the Nashville Predators. Though admittedly not at one hundred percent, the time off might have helped the veteran forward. He played the same fearless game that had brought him success in the regular season, harassing opposing defensemen and recovering loose pucks at a furious rate. Though the Ducks fell short in a Game 7 they could have won, Perron established himself as a critical piece to their championship puzzle.

Perron A Crucial Piece To Anaheim’s Puzzle

Anaheim arguably boasts the NHL’s deepest blueline. Provided Hampus Lindholm returns next season, they’ll ice at least one excellent puck-moving defenseman on each pairing. Things aren’t quite as rosy on the attacking end. Outside of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Rickard Rakell, offensive panache is lacking. Desperate for a spark during the playoffs, former head coach Bruce Boudreau found himself slotting Ryan Garbutt into Anaheim’s top-six. Not exactly the guy you want to be betting your life on when in need of a goal.

Scoring goals felt impossible at times for the Ducks in 2015-16. They only shot better than the moribund Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres at even strength, leading to one of the most dramatic mid-season tactical overhauls we’ve ever seen from an NHL team. Boudreau turned his team into a trapping behemoth, suffocating their opponents’ ability to get through the neutral zone. It led to a considerable climb in the standings, but Anaheim still only generated scoring chances at about league average. That inability to generate chances was their eventual undoing against Nashville.

Perron was one of the few offensive catalysts for the Ducks. He made just south of $4 million per year on his last deal, and he may fetch more than that this summer. Deep-pocket teams like the Montreal Canadiens have already expressed their interest in his services, and they won’t hesitate to throw cash at him to lock him up. That may force Anaheim to spend a bit more than they’d like to, but Perron is well worth it. Not only was his offensive output excellent, but so were his underlying numbers, suggesting he’ll once again be a weapon in 2016-17.

Anaheim needs to be all in here. Their championship window is closing fast. There’s no time to pinch pennies to save ownership some extra coin. They’ve shown a willingness to open up the vault for the likes of lesser talents like Kevin Bieksa, who’s done absolutely nothing to warrant his $4 million cap hit so far. Keeping Perron might mean having to out-bid some bigger spenders, but with him on board, Anaheim’s championship window doesn’t seem quite as small.