Since signing a four-year, $16 million contract in 2018 and returning for a third term with the Blues, David Perron has scored 94 regular season goals.
Only 45 players in the NHL have scored more in that span. Of those 45 players, only one player — Evander Kane — had a lower salary cap last season than Perron’s $4 million. And that’s only because a series of off-ice issues led to Kane’s $7 million-a-year contract being terminated by San Jose last January. He played for just $2.1 million when he resurfaced later in the season with Edmonton.
The point to all of this is that Perron is over his contract; the Blues got him for a bargain based on how well he produced over the four seasons.
It should be noted that most of those 45 players who beat Perron won over $4 million. Of them, only Mike Hoffman ($4.5 million) and Elias Lindholm ($4.85 million) played for less than $5 million last season.
And many players who have earned more than Perron’s $4 million have scored less than 94 goals over the past four seasons.
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Finally, we have to add that Perron has been even better on the power play over the duration of this contract – his 33 power play goals are tied for 19e league over the past four seasons.
If Perron was five years younger, he would be entitled to a big raise. But he is 34 years old. It’s an age where most players slow down, but Perron didn’t receive that rating. He’s more productive than ever, with his 27 goals last season, his most in 11 seasons with St. Louis and the second most in 15 NHL seasons.
Beyond that, he’s become a team leader, despite not wearing a “C” or “A” on his shirt. He’s the kind of fiery competitor who drags his teammates into the fight. He doesn’t shy away from big moments, as evidenced by his team-high nine goals in the playoffs.
So what are the Blues doing about it? How do they keep Perron? As always, it’s about how much and for how long. Contract length is more important for older players – they always seem to want to add another year to the end of the contract.
There have been rumors that Perron was taken aback by the Blues’ offer – and not in a good way. But no one really talks – in public or even behind the scenes. During his exit interview over a month ago, Perron made it clear how much he would love to return to St. Louis.
The feeling is mutual on the part of the Blues.
“Our goal is to see if we can find a way to make David ‘whole’ or happy,” general manager Doug Armstrong said recently.
The Blues remain optimistic that they can do something. But with the free agency period fast approaching — it begins July 13 — Perron and his agent Allan Walsh may want to see what happens. In other words, test the market.
The Blues have just over $9 million in cap space according to CapFriendly.com, so getting Perron under the cap this year isn’t much of a problem. But the following season (2023-24) looks like another matter with Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ivan Barbashev all scheduled for unrestricted free agency, and Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas in line for substantial raises as restricted free agents eligible for arbitration. .
Kyrou and Thomas are both $2.8 million over the cap this coming season. If they play something like they did in 2021-22, they could at least double that in their next trades.
One of the reasons the Blues have remained highly competitive over the past decade is that they have stayed out of salary cap hell. Armstrong and assistant general manager Ryan Miller avoided painting themselves in the corner of their caps.
So while the Blues — and their fans — want the Perron contract situation to end as a feel-good story, they’re not there yet. It’s a little complicated.
Overall as attackers, the Blues are in an enviable position. Of the 13 players who finished the 2021-22 season on St. Louis’ roster, only two have expired contracts this offseason in Perron and fellow 30-year-old Tyler Bozak, who is also slated for free agency without restriction. None of the Blues’ top 13 forwards are slated for restricted free agency this offseason.
The league-wide average per team forward is five free agents pending. Arizona has a league record of 10 with seven pending unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents. Colorado is right behind at eight – six UFAs and two RFAs up front.
The New York Islanders are the only team in the NHL in better shape than the Blues with only one free agent waiting at forward in RFA Kieffer Bellows.
Bozak, the Blues’ oldest player at 36, is in a similar position to last year. The Blues will allow him to see what happens in free agency and could come back to him later. He didn’t sign last year until September 14, just nine days before the start of camp.
Bozak was an astute and respected role player with the team for four seasons. But he missed 20 games with a groin tear last season and struggled to adjust to a lesser fourth-line role last season.
His return could be tied to what’s happening with unrestricted free agent Dakota Joshua, who played well for the Springfield Thunderbirds in the playoffs with seven goals and eight assists in 18 playoff games. Joshua appeared in 30 regular season competitions and one playoff game for the Blues last season and is expected to push for a place in the opening roster if he re-signs with the club.