After recently embarking on his second consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Final, Corey Perry is also once again a free agent for the second consecutive season. After spending last season with the Dallas Stars, Perry signed with the Montreal Canadiens and played an influential role in their Cinderella run to the Cup Final.
It remains to be seen whether Perry’s hometown team is keen to retain him for another season, but one team that should not be interested in the former London Knight is his former team, the Anaheim Ducks.
No Room for Nostalgia
While the addition of Perry would bring some warm and fuzzy feelings back, is bringing him back really worth taking a roster spot that could go to a younger player with more potential? That’s the reason Perry was originally bought out after all.
This season would have been Perry’s last year of his eight-year, $69 million deal. You have to give someone making that much per season a substantial role in the lineup, and who would have known that Max Comtois or Troy Terry possessed the ability they do without playing in that role this past season? Max Jones also looked bright in an elevated position and will be looking to cement a top-six role during the 2021-22 season. The Ducks are not in a position where they can justify adding Perry simply for nostalgic purposes.
The former Hart Trophy winner is also a very proud player and put it upon himself to prove that he can still be an everyday player after his separation from the Ducks. It’s unlikely that he would return to play a role similar to the one David Backes did this past season.
While Perry isn’t the player he once was, his playoff experience and ability to step up in big games has been extremely valuable for both the Stars and Canadiens over the last two seasons. The Ducks are far from the perennial playoff contender that Perry played for, which means his playoff accolades won’t help them much. If the team decides to bring Perry back, it won’t be to help them make a playoff push either.
Emphasis on speed has become a big part of the modern game — quick puck movement, quick decision making. Just be quick. Some of the NHL’s biggest stars exemplify that to a T. Auston Matthews has his quick hands and quick shot while Connor McDavid is also quick in more than one way. A pair of current Ducks who fit the “be quick” mold are Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale.
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The current Perry is not the fleetest of foot, to put it nicely. Sure, he’s still got those silky smooth mitts that can do plenty of damage around the net, but Ducks general manager Bob Murray has said that he wants to make a team that is “faster, younger, exciting” and while Perry can be exciting to watch at times, he is neither faster or younger than much of the current roster. Bringing him on board would go against the blueprint that Murray has been adamant about sticking to.
Relocation Not Necessary
It’s been two years since Perry last played a game at Honda Center. If not for a brutal hit on Ryan Ellis during the 2020 Winter Classic, Perry would have been on the ice for his return game against his former team. Instead, he could only watch from the press box as he served a five-game suspension.
His Corona Del Mar home was sold shortly after he signed with the Stars in 2019 (from, ‘Former Anaheim Duck Corey Perry nets a buyer in Corona del Mar’, Los Angeles Times, 12/17/19) and while fans would like to see Perry don the black and orange one last time, would it make sense for him to relocate again? Sure, it would be to a location that he’s extremely familiar with, but his career is very close to winding down. Joining his hometown team in the Canadiens seemed like the perfect fit for not only him, but his family as well.
This could be a case similar to Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks where the player decides to return to where their career started as Marleau is also originally from Canada, but has spent a majority of his career playing in California. Would Perry consider a return to Southern California even if it was just for one season?
The Ducks and Perry had a long, fruitful relationship. Though it ended perhaps prematurely and in a fashion that both sides likely wanted to avoid prior to the decision, a reunion may be unlikely until the time comes for Perry’s No. 10 to be hung in the rafters of Honda Center.
Derek has been a hockey fan for almost a decade and has been a sports fan in general for more than two decades.
He graduated from UCCS in Colorado Springs, CO in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Communication. He spent the last several years as part of UCCS’ on-campus student newspaper staff (both as a reporter and editor) and is now creating Ducks-related content from his home in Southern California.