Blues give winger $15.25 million contract; Oshie files for arbitration
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- For both the Blues and David Perron, each side had to give up something and take a risk in signing a new four-year, $15.25 million contract.
Perron, who avoided filing for arbitration today by signing a contract that will pay him $3 million next season, $3.5 million in 2013-14, $4.25 million in 2014-15 and $4.5 million in 2015-16 (a cap hit of $3.8125), will lose two years of unrestricted free agency by going beyond two years. It plays a big factor, especially if Perron goes out and tears it up for the next two seasons. He could be quite the bargain for the following two years and he knows it.
David Perron (57) will spend at least the next four seasons in St.
Louis after signing a four-year contract extension.
With the market value for players soaring in the first week of free agency, Perron could have cashed in handsomely if he were on the market today. But on the flip side, there was the concussion factor that weighs in for Perron, who came back last season after missing nearly all of the 2010-11 season. The Blues are paying him well with the potential risk of possibly another type of injury, specifically a concussion.
But Blues general manager Doug Armstrong felt the rewards far outweighed those risks. Just look what the Pittsburgh Penguins did with Sidney Crosby's 12-year, $104.4 million contract.
"Certainly his concussion was something David's agent (Allan Walsh) and I talked about," Armstrong said. "It's a risk-reward. Both sides are assuming some form of risk in this deal, I think. When you look at David's point production and goal scoring, he got 20 goals in 2009-10 and 21 this (past) year in 57 games. He's a natural goal scorer in our game, but he did have that where he was injured one time with that extended period of time with the concussion. Our options were to go to arbitration and take a two-year award. Obviously the risk for the team on a four-year deal was that there's potential for future injuries, but I think that's a risk with every player. Also, we were taking a risk going with a short-term deal and David staying healthy and continuing off of where he was last year and that 30-plus goal pace. He'd be in a very good spot as an unrestricted free agent.
"I think both sides wanted to get a deal done. Both sides were understanding of each side's position. I think it worked out very good. It's hard to believe that at the end of this contract, David's going to be in a good position for his next contract also."
Perron, 24, dressed in 57 regular season games for the Blues last season and tallied 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists). He posted five points (one goal, four assists) in nine playoff games. Despite missing the first 25 games of the 2011-12 season due to concussion symptoms, Perron finished the regular season fifth on the team in points and assists, second in goals, fourth in plus/minus (plus-19), tied for fourth in power play goals (five) and tied for second in game-winning goals (four).
"When we started talking, I had nothing in mind," Perron said of his contract options. "I was open to anything. I think last week things really got going and that's when we started to talk about longer term. (I'm) just really happy to be back in St. Louis for four years.
"... I could be leaving some money on the table, mostly for years three and four. But it's some kind of security that you have. Not only about my concussion because I know that it's past me and I've healed from that, every game I played last year I felt 100 percent in terms of my head. But the shape that I was in wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. Obviously missing all that time...so this summer is a real big summer for me and I think Army summed it up pretty good."
The 6-foot, 200-pound Sherbrooke, Quebec native -- a first round pick in 2007 -- has 173 points (74 goals) in 292 career games. He's trained ruggedly this summer in Quebec and is rounding into the kind of shape he was in pre-concussion.
"I'm way ahead of where I was at ... at any point last year," Perron said. "It seemed like when the intensity got a little higher in the playoffs, it kind of had me dragging just a little bit behind. My head was there, my hands were there ... everything was there except my conditioning seemed like it was just a little bit behind the guys.
"As a player, during the playoffs, you're not thinking too much. You're working as hard as you can. You're just hoping that it's a few bad days, but it seemed like, mostly in the second round, it didn't go as well as I wanted as a player and obviously as a team. I'm the kind of player that's trying to make a difference every shift out there, getting that big goal for the team. I wasn't able to do that. When you take a look two, three, four weeks after the season, I realized, we'll never know for sure, but it could be part of it that the conditioning wasn't quite there. I've been training like a maniac lately and feeling really good. I have no restriction or nothing."
Armstrong expressed some concern that the organization wanted to make sure the necessary steps have been taken in Perron's concussion recovery. Obviously, all those issues have been laid to rest.
David Perron celebrates a goal against San Jose during the playoffs last
season. He scored 21 goals in 57 regular season games.
"We didn't do any additional follow-ups since the season ended," Armstrong said. "There was a little bit of concern, but what we talked about at the end of the year was potentially going short-term, but I wanted to hear and wanted to talk to David's representative and find out what was important for them. I wanted them to hear my concerns.
"I think both sides had to give a little bit, with our expectations on going three or four years and what the value was and his expectations on what his value was if he stayed healthy. I think there was a little risk on both sides. Ultimately what we did talk about .. our goal is for him to stay healthy and produce the way that we need him to produce to be a successful team and then he'll be able to get back to the contract table in relatively short order."
Armstrong added that the free agency process thus far is a reality check.
"Quite honestly, I did have my eyes open a little bit here," Armstrong said. "Every year, I think we get to July 4th or 5th and say, 'Wow, did that market really fluctuate?' What would David Perron be worth as an unrestricted free agent in two years if he stays healthy and he continues to score goals at the clip he's scored them when healthy between (2009-10) and 11-12. I thought it was worth the risk and obviously David did also."
The Blues will go into camp with a full roster, since their remaining rostered restricted free agent (T.J. Oshie) filed for arbitration by Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline.
Armstrong, who expressed desire to lock up Oshie to a long-term extension as well, knows he will have Oshie, who tied with David Backes for the team lead in points with 54, for at least one more season and possibly two.
With Oshie choosing to file for arbitration, teams cannot extend an offer sheet.
"Obviously we're hoping to be able to work out a contract with him," Armstrong said of Oshie. "We have had dialogue. I think the good thing for all St. Louis Blues fans is to realize that everyone will be in training camp now and there will be no contract holdouts. T.J. will be in training camp on a one- or two-year deal if we can't work out a longer term deal. Our goal is to work out a long-term deal.
"We think he showed us last year that he's a very good NHL player. If we can wrap him up into a longer-term contract ... I think we're getting into that time now where these players that have played through their entry-level contracts, come out and played a couple years after that. Now I think is the time to see if we can reward these guys with a little bit longer term and create some stability in our organization."