Apr 6, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Magnus Paajarvi (91) moves the puck down the ice defended by Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter (77) during the first period at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Perron trade is good for the Blues

April 21 2013; Denver, CO, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing David Perron (57) prepares to take shot on Colorado Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere (35) in the third period at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche defeated the Blues 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the St. Louis Blues sent one of the original “Kids,” David Perron to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for 22-year-old winger Magnus Paajarvi, a big (6’3″ – 205lbs) Swede who changes the complexion of the Blues forward lines. Not only did the GM shake up the core of their lineup, Doug Armstrong managed to shave nearly $4 million in Salary Cap space for the next few years, putting his club in a more comfortable position to sign RFAs, Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart, and Jake Allen. The Blues also receive a 2nd round pick in next year’s draft. The real benefit to the team from this deal though, may be what they gained by subtraction.

Some St. Louis fans immediately lamented the move, as indicated yesterday via Twitter:

@JessicaIpock So sad the St. Louis Blues traded David Perron!:( #NHL #StLBlues #Sad

At the same time, you’ll find folks who agree that it was time for the shifty Perron to part ways with the Blues.

Dan Reilly ‏@danreilly Guys who hog the puck and fail their defensive assignments? I won’t mention any names, but his initials are David Perron #stlblues#oilers

This was a very good deal for the Blues. In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, there was endless talk about the players “buying in,” or NOT buying in, as the case apparently was for one or more unknown individuals. There seemed to be some sort of disconnect between Coach Hitchcock’s “team-defense” scheme and what some players wanted to do on the ice. Consider for a moment that Perron was one of those guys and this trade gives the Blues the locker room cleansing they needed in the worst way but wouldn’t admit to publicly.

May 10, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; St. Louis Blues center Chris Porter (32), defenseman Roman Polak (46) and St. Louis Blues left wing David Perron (57) celebrate a goal in the second period of game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I liked Perron and wanted to root for him during his time in St. Louis. He obviously has loads of talent: puck handling skill, soft hands, and we’ve all seen him skate circles around opposing defenses when he wanted to. He missed most of the 2010-11 season recovering from a concussion and returned with a vengeance, netting 21 goals and 42 points in 57 games during the 2011-12 campaign during Hitch’s first year as head coach. BUT, and blame the lockout if you want, things were dramatically different for Perron last season, and his consistency disappeared.

Scratch that, his positive consistency disappeared. What he was good at, apparently, was taking penalties in the offensive zone. Often. I challenge you to find another NHL forward last season with more minor infractions in the offensive zone that killed his team’s chance to score. For that matter, you’d need both hands and then some to count the number of times Perron didn’t get deep on the backcheck to cover a man and prevent an opposing goal. He wasn’t the only guy guilty of it, but expectations were high for #57 and his mistakes were that much more glaring.

May 2, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing David Perron (57) clears the puck away from Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin (6) in game two of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

With the exception of a few hard-nosed games in Round One of the Playoffs versus the Los Angeles Kings, Perron seemed reluctant to play in those tough, “crunchy” areas of the ice (as described by Hitch.) He was agitating Jonathan Quick with the best of them in the post-season, but it proved to be too little, too late. His proclivity for ill-timed penalties was selfish, his effort was lacking at times and hurt his team, and may have punched his ticket out-of-town.

Do not misunderstand me, hockey fans. I think David Perron can be an excellent forward in the NHL. He’s shown he can play at a high level and I think he’ll do very well in Edmonton. I wish him all the best, except when the Oilers play the Blues of course. St. Louis Blues insider, Jeremy Rutherford spoke to Perron after the announcement and had this to say:

@jprutherford Perron said he was misunderstood at times. Said he never did anything disrespectful & anything seen as over-the-top was due to love for game

I’d be disappointed if Perron said otherwise and I’m sure he’ll miss St. Louis but will enjoy his new start in Alberta. I’m very interested to hear the crowd’s reaction the first time he returns to Scottrade Center.

Let’s look at the player added to the Blues in this trade, Magnus Paajarvi (Pay-R-V, according to the Swede as told to Rutherford.) At 22 years old he’s got three fewer years of NHL experience than Perron, but it’s that youth (and the lower Cap hit) that makes his up-side so high. Additionally, he’s familiar with countrymen Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen and has the sort of big, strong, fast body NHL forwards need these days to play in the corners and in front of the net. I asked fellow FanSided contributor Derek Stykalo from OilonWhyte.com to share a little about the newest Blue:

1. Paajarvi was a 1st round pick in 2010. Considering the short tenure in EDM, do you think the team was disappointed in the pick? 

Stykalo- “I don’t think the Oilers were disappointed with the pick, I think Paajarvi has taken too long to develop into the player they thought he could be.  With change being promised from GM Craig MacTavish, players like Paajarvi became expendable when they weren’t producing on a consistent basis.  With the need to win “now” and not in the future, the Oilers needed to make changes and grabbing a player like Perron while giving up Paajarvi was a solid move.”

2. What’s the biggest upside to Paajarvi’s game for the Blues? 

“He’s a gifted forward with slick hands, great speed and sees the ice extremely well.  The ceiling on this kid is extremely high and many Oilers’ fans were sad to see him go.  When he’s skating and playing with confidence he’s a lot of fun to watch as he can take the game and change the tempo with one rush up the ice.”

3. What do you think he still needs to work on or has room to improve on?

“It’s no secret that Paajarvi needs to work on his all around game, meaning consistency on a nightly basis.  He’s a big frame and needs to use that to his advantage more ie: driving the net.”

4. He only played in about half the games in 2011-2012, anything Blues fans should be concerned about?

“Nothing at all.  Paajarvi bounced back and forth between the big club and OKC of the AHL before sticking with the Oilers towards the end of the season.  He’s healthy and eager to prove he belongs in the NHL.”

5. How would you rate this trade overall for the Blues?

“Given the need to clear space and sign Pietrangelo and Stewart, I’d call this a great deal for the Blues.  Not only do they get a promising youngster who can slide into their third line and produce but they get that all important second round pick.  Now with roughly $4MM available and only having to part ways with Perron, the Blues can focus on signing two players who are more important to their core.  I call it a win win for both clubs.”

I’m more excited than ever for September and the start of training camp. I’m confident Army will sign Stewart, Pietrangelo, and Allen, and I while I don”t necessarily feel the GM is finished shuffling the deck just yet, I like the look of the Blues roster. It’s filled with youth, much of it is seasoned with guys in their prime years. Paajarvi will be given the chance to make this his team alongside the likes of Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Dmitrij Jaskin. St. Louis could be very good for a long while.



Tags: Alex Pietrangelo Chris Stewart Craig MacTavish David Perron Dmitrij Jaskin Doug Armstrong Edmonton Oilers Jaden Schwartz Jake Allen Jonathan Quick Ken Hitchcock Magnus Paajarvi NHL Patrik Berglund St. Louis Blues Trade Vladimir Tarasenko

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