Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blues shed cap space, deal Perron to Oilers for Paajarvi, pick

Trade enables St. Louis to work with cap space to sign RFA's

ST. LOUIS -- With unsigned restricted free agents on the table in Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart and Jake Allen and limited dollars to squeeze those players under the salary cap, the Blues traded away a core component Wednesday.

But Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said trading away David Perron wasn't just a trade to free up salary cap space but one to that will add an impact player in return.

The Blues dealt Perron to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Magnus Paajarvi and a 2014 second round draft pick. The deal was consummated to both help the Blues shed $3.8 million in cap space off Perron's contract and a total of $12.25 million over the final three years of Perron's contract but to also add a player the Blues feel is still an evolving body in Paajarvi, who is 22 and has a speed element with his 6-foot-3, 208-pound frame. Paajarvi was the 10th pick in the 2009 NHL Draft.
The trade gives the Blues roughly $13 million to get their RFA's signed to contracts against the $64.3 million cap hit for 2013-14.

(Getty Images)
Newest Blue Magnus Paajarvi (right) has 58 career points in three seasons
with the Edmonton Oilers. 
"We certainly didn't make this trade just for salary cap purposes," Armstrong said via conference call. "If we were going to make a move, we wanted to add a player that we think fits into our organization where we are today and where we are moving forward. To get a young player that has obviously been highly thought of in his draft year and come over to North America, has done his apprenticeship in the American Hockey League and we think the future ... he's just starting to enter the real good part of his career at 22 and we have his rights now for the next four years, which is important for us. We just think he adds an element to our team that we don't have."

Paajarvi, who has 26 goals and 58 points in 163 career games over three seasons, is back in his hometown of Norrkoping, Sweden and said he was shocked to learn of the trade but is excited to be coming to a team considered a Stanley Cup contender.

"I'm very surprised. I know how it is," Paajarvi said via phone. "I know it's business, but it came as a shock. ... I'm a little bit overwhelmed. It is what it is. All I can say is I had a great time and I can speak good of Edmonton and coming to St. Louis, it's a new chapter. I'm actually excited to come to a contending team right away. I haven't been in the playoffs yet in three years, so hopefully I can contribute to the team and do what I need to do."

The Blues are dealing away a player in Perron that is still prime in his years at 25 and has 84 goals and 198 points in 340 career games over six seasons after being picked 26th in the 2007 NHL Draft.

"With the numbers like we had with David, they were all a little bit different, but they all had a lot of the same attributes and with Ty Rattie coming and (Dmitrij) Jaskin, we felt that this was the right time to try and create some space for (Vladimir) Tarasenko and (Jaden) Schwartz for this year but also understanding we believe in Rattie and Jaskin to take the next step also."

The Oilers also are giving up on a player that is still raw in talent and growing. Armstrong said the Blues have had their eye on Paajarvi for some time and feel he can blend in with fellow Swedes Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen. Paajarvi and Berglund played together for Sweden at the World Championships.

"We saw them play over at the Worlds together and they had a dynamic team," Armstrong said. "They played in the Gold Medal game and those two players were very good. But this trade wasn't based on just his ability to play with one player. The way our team is situated right now, we have a number of players about the same size and the same stature. For us to bring in a 6-foot-3, 210-pound left winger that we think is just starting to understand his potential, he's 22 years old and one of the areas we wanted to try and improve on was our speed.

"It does free up some cap space for a future deal that we have to accomplish. I think it's a good deal for both teams, at least that's what (Oilers general manager) Craig (MacTavish) and I both hope. David's a dynamic offensive player and we think that Magnus is just entering the guts of his career now and we're looking forward to him being a Blue."

Armstrong continued: "I just think it comes with experience and time. We're a league that puts young players in position to fail and not succeed far too often. That's not just one player, but when you put an 18- or 19-year-old player in a man's league and ask him to be a physical force, that's a daunting task. I think maturity and time allows these players really to grow into their bodies and understand the game the way it's needed to play. I think he's an evolving player. Does he have to go into the hard areas to be successful, most certainly does he have to go into the hard areas to be successful. But he has the speed and now we're going to give him an opportunity to go into those areas and play that game. I think we have seen some evolution in his game."

Paajarvi, who has never played a playoff game yet, is eager to fit in anywhere, considering the Blues' stature in the Western Conference as a contending team.

"When you say it like that, it only excites me even more," Paajarvi said. "I know the team is really big and strong and is a really good team. It's obviously exciting to come to a contending team right away.

"We haven't been there in Edmonton for three years. It's always sad to not come to the playoffs when you play the whole season. To come to a contending team, that's awesome. I really want to come to St. Louis and contribute and hopefully make the team even better."

(St. Louis Blues photo)
David Perron (right) leaves the Blues after collecting 198 points in six
seasons in St. Louis.
Paajarvi will be given a fair shake as to where he plays and with whom he plays.

"We view him coming in and competing in our group of nine," Armstrong said. "We have been more of a group of nine than your proto-typical first, second, third, fourth line. We've had nine forwards than are inter-changeable and Ken (Hitchcock) has used them as inter-changeable parts playing different guys with different players. Our team is built on balance and we think he has the opportunity to come in here and provide an element that we don't have right now. Whether Ken uses him ... how he decides to use him will basically be up to the player and his teammates on how they perform in training camp and what good chemistry there is."

Paajarvi is also a restricted free agent but is eager to get a contract hammered out as soon as possible.

"That would be ideal to get (a contract) as quickly as possible for sure," Paajarvi said. "I had a talk with my agent and we will have a talk tomorrow as well. I'm sure he will talk with Doug Armstrong and we will look forward.

"I want the deal to come as quickly as possible. I'm sure there are details that have to be worked out there as well, but it would be nice."

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