Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Perron feeling range of emotions with trade to Oilers

Former Blues first round pick sad to leave organization that
gave him a chance, eager to move to a talented group in Edmonton

ST. LOUIS -- David Perron couldn't help but pay attention to the trade rumors. In the end though, disappointment turned to optimism.

Perron heard the rumors that his name was on the trade market. He was hoping in the end that none of them would come to fruition, but when reality finally hit Wednesday and he heard who the team that had dealt for him was, good thoughts quickly sank in.

Perron's six years with the Blues ended with his trade to the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday for Magnus Paajarvi and a 2014 second-round draft pick.

(St. Louis Blues photo)
David Perron (right) spent six seasons in St. Louis. He was traded to the
Edmonton Oilers Wednesday.
Perron, 25, was part of the core group the Blues put together after the 2004-05 lockout that was supposed to bring the franchise from the bottom of the National Hockey League to its first Stanley Cup through gradual progression. But he won't get the opportunity to see that vision through and now will go to an organization that seems to suit his style more so than what was happening here in a two-way system.

Perron, the 26th pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, leaves the Blues with 198 career points in 340 games. He got the word from general manager Doug Armstrong. That's when it sank in that he was no longer a member of the Blues.

"It's tough to leave a nice situation like I had in St. Louis," Perron said. "I have been growing up with the same guys for five or six years. The team's going in the right direction. It's always tough to go, but as soon as I heard the destination would be the Edmonton Oilers, I knew right away it would be a nice fit for me and a place where I could really take the next step as an offensive guy. You look at their roster of top six guys, it's pretty incredible. They're young players but it almost seems like they're superstars in the league already. It's going to be nice going in and try to do what I can to help them and hopefully we can all start a new process in growing up together."

The names David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund, Alex Pietrangelo, and Perron to name a few, were the ones talked about as the next generation of players that would ascend the franchise to prominence. The Blues have taken steps towards that goal, but Perron won't be around to see it through.

"It's always tough," Perron said. "The fans definitely deserved the best in St. Louis. They've been supporting a team in St. Louis really well. Just being so respectful of the players on and off the ice. I think it starts with a first-class organization starting from the top. Whenever (former GM) Larry Pleau drafted me with Jarmo (Kekalainen) and JD (John Davidson) and now it's Army's team, everyone has been so supportive and it goes to the media people and fans.

"I wish we would have done it all together in St. Louis, but the crazy thing in this league is there are 29 other teams that might not feel the same way. Starting every year, everyone has goals of making the playoffs and you never know what can happen. There's a lot of parity in the league. What Chicago did winning twice in four years is pretty special and St. Louis is trying to build a team like that. ... It's tough to get the call. I know Army liked me a lot as a person. I could feel it. You can feel when someone likes you a lot. He's that type of person. He's really passionate about this team. I'm sure it was a tough transaction for him. I wish the Blues success. It's the business side of things. Who knows what can happen in the future. I remember Keith Tkachuk telling me Andy Murray was his assistant coach in Winnipeg and at the end of his career, he was his head coach. You never know. ... I loved my six years in St. Louis. It was unbelievable. Hopefully I'll have the next six and more with the Oilers."

Perron's second season in St. Louis was his high point mark with 50 in 2008-09 and he set a career-high in goals with 21 in 2011-12 under Ken Hitchcock's first season as coach. But his career was derailed momentarily by a concussion early in 2010 that forced Perron to miss the last 72 games of that season and the first 25 in 2011. He came back and notched 42 points in 57 games, including a goal in his first game back against Chicago, but dropped to 10 goals and 25 points in 48 games this past season.

There were questions whether he fell out of favor with Hitchcock and couldn't sustain the level of play needed to succeed with in a Hitchcock-coached system.

"I don't believe there was an issue there," Armstrong said. "His first year back from a concussion, he scored very well under Ken's system. Last year, he didn't produce offensively the way he did before. That seemed to be a universal thing with our group at certain times last year.

"I think that David is a dynamic player and he has an unbelievable skill set that sometimes takes a little time getting used to playing with. Not for a coach but for his teammates to get used to his nuances. I think David's going to fit into any system. He's a consummate professional and he wants to be a good player."

Perron will take his skills to the Oilers, who are chalk full of young and vibrant players that play a more run-and-gun style that suits Perron's game more.

"I think St. Louis tried to play like the LA Kings," Perron said. "I think the Edmonton Oilers are trying to play like the Chicago Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings. It's two winning ways of playing. It's almost like two different styles of hockey.

"I think Edmonton's style of play might fit me a little better. That's why I'm really looking forward to that situation. I gave my all in St. Louis. I was hoping for better success in the playoffs as a team last year and the year before but it didn't work out."

Rumors began to swirl that the Blues needed to shed an impact player or two to clear cap space in order to fit some of their prominent restricted free agents under next season's salary cap of $64.3 million, including Pietrangelo and Chris Stewart.

"Towards the NHL Draft, I knew my name was around," Perron said. "There's people that I trust that told me that I was involved. I was definitely checking my phone a lot more around the draft time. Then it went by, and I didn't know what was going to happen. I was kind of hoping it would stay like that, but when I heard the Edmonton Oilers from Army's mouth saying I was going to go there and I spoke with (Oilers GM) Craig MacTavish and (president of hockey operations) Kevin Lowe there, they're really excited to get me. Once it settled down a little bit, the next few days it's going to be nice to wake up on their team and to play that style of hockey with that type of skill up front."

Perron will move on and join the likes of Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, but part of his heart will remain in the organization that gave him his start in the NHL.

(St. Louis Blues photo)
David Perron (57) battles Los Angeles' Slava Voynov during the playoffs
this past season. Perron was traded to Edmonton Wednesday, ending his
six-year run with the Blues.
"We were all in this together," Perron said. "The trainers, I know we're not the same age, but it seems like we're all a group together. We drove together, we go through those losing streaks together five years ago, four years ago, we went through the winning ways last few years. I'm just really thankful for all the messages I got from teammates and coaches, you guys, the trainers.

Perron won't soon forget the fans of St. Louis, who also welcomed him with open arms.

"They really touched me a lot," Perron said. "That's the main reason I joined Twitter so that people that enjoy my style of play, my personality and all of that feel connected to me and I can still connect with them. It was always fun.

"I'm just hoping when I come back to St. Louis, even though they'll want to see the Blues win the game, hopefully they'll still have a little bit of support for me in their hearts. I'll always have a special place for St. Louis myself. It's a city that gave me a chance to play in this league and really made me grow as a person, as a young adult now. I feel like I'm ready to take the next step in my career. I can only thank them for all they've done."

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