Red Wings Add Soon-To-Be Fan Favourite in David Perron

It’s rare for fans to be excited about signing a 34-year-old player to a free-agent deal worth nearly $5 million per season, but that seems to be the consensus about the Detroit Red Wings’ new deal with Canadian winger David Perron. Along with a flurry of other deals, general manager Steve Yzerman signed the 15-year NHL veteran to a two-year contract, which will make Perron a member of the Red Wings through to the end of the 2023-24 season. 

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

Are fans looking at this signing through rose-coloured “Yzerplan” glasses, or does Perron have more to give for the next two seasons? Here’s a look at the details of the contract, the realistic expectations for what he’ll bring to Detroit, and how he will fit into the Red Wings’ forward group. 

Perron’s Deal

In addition to his two-year deal worth an average annual value (AAV) of $4.75 million, Perron also received a signing bonus worth $1 million on July 13 when the contract became official. He also fought for a modified no-trade clause, which will allow him to submit a list of 10 NHL teams that he cannot be traded to unless he gives explicit permission each offseason. The added stability cannot be overstated, especially for a player with a young family who has moved so much during his career.

Related: How the Red Wings Could Add Matthew Tkachuk in Massive Trade

Since he was drafted 26th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2007, Perron has played for five different NHL teams (not including Detroit) and has just signed his sixth contract. However, he had only ever signed contracts with the Blues until last week. He has been traded three times and was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in their expansion draft. Perron always found his way back to St. Louis, and that loyalty, as one-sided as it may have been, goes a long way in establishing a player’s reputation. 

David Perron #57 of the Vegas Golden Knights
David Perron former Vegas Golden Knights player (Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Blues decided not to retain Perron’s services this offseason to reserve cap space for the long-term extensions for some of their young stars like Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas. They might have a lot more cap space next offseason when veteran leaders Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko’s contracts expire; however, they are both leaders who will almost certainly be extended.

Though Perron’s deal provides him with the highest annual salary of his career, the Red Wings have plenty of cap space to work with, making this contract easy to manage in the short term. Speaking of term, the highlight of this deal is that it is for two years, which makes perfect sense as he will bolster the Red Wings’ push for the playoffs in the next two seasons before his contract expires ahead of the 2023-24 offseason. Long-term extensions for Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond will be the main goal for the Red Wings’ management team that offseason, so this extra $4.75 million in cap space will be important. 

What To Expect From Perron

So, what about Perron’s game makes this contract such a high-value deal for the Red Wings? He is an excellent two-way winger who plays physically and will help level up Detroit’s power play for the next two years. His offensive game is best when he plays on the perimeter, which works perfectly on the power play but doesn’t translate quite as well at even strength. Luckily, Perron’s defensive play is consistently excellent and means that he is overall a positive player at even strength, even if he’s not scoring. He wasn’t a major part of St. Louis’ penalty kill but could very well be asked to do so in Detroit.

Perron scored 26 points on the power play last season and has scored 202 power-play points over his career, so it would be fair to expect him to earn plenty of time on the first unit. He also scored 57 points in 67 games last season, which is a 70-point pace over a full 82-game season; over his last five seasons, Perron has averaged a 73-point pace over the course of 321 games. 

David Perron St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup
David Perron of the St. Louis Blues celebrates with the Stanley Cup (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Since Perron’s game is centered around his IQ and playmaking skills, and he finds most of his success on the perimeter, he will likely be able to maintain his recent level of success in the next two seasons. If he can remain healthy and play most of an 82-game season in 2022-23, it will be reasonable to expect Perron to score 20+ goals and 60 points, with 20 or so of them coming on the power play. 

Perron a Fit in Detroit

Detroit filled the biggest need on their depth chart on the first day of free agency, signing Andrew Copp with the expectation that he will become the second-line center that they so desperately needed. With that settled, the Red Wings turned their gaze to players who could help them take a significant step forward in their rebuild as they look to put the days of obsessing over draft lottery odds behind them and look toward the playoffs. 

Perron will almost certainly slot in as a top-six winger next season, likely on Copp’s wing, opposite sniper Jakub Vrana. Copp and Perron would both be excellent linemates for the speedy and skilled Vrana, who has struggled a bit defensively during his young career. Playing alongside one or two defensively gifted veterans should help the Red Wings’ new coaching staff mitigate Vrana’s biggest weakness. 

The Red Wings’ biggest struggles last season were on defence and special teams. Detroit allowed the second most goals against in the league and the fifth most shots against, so an improved defence should go a long way to pushing this team toward the playoffs. They also had the 26th ranked power play last season, and adding Perron (as well as Copp, Dominik Kubalik, and Ben Chiarot) will assuredly help improve that. 

Red Wings’ New Fan Favourite?

I expect Perron will endear himself to Red Wings fans very quickly once the regular season kicks off in October. He plays a high-effort, hard-nosed game, but his contributions on defence and the power play will soon make him a celebrated player in Hockey Town. There’s also a real chance that he is promoted to the first line at some point, whether it’s because Lucas Raymond suffers a sophomore slump, Tyler Bertuzzi is traded, or some other unforeseen circumstance.

What do you think of the Perron signing and the cost of his contract? Do you think he lasts the full two years in Detroit, or will he somehow make his way back to St. Louis as a Trade Deadline rental? Who would you like to see Perron play with on the second line? Sound off in the comment section below!

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