David Perron: MacTavish’s Masterpiece?

Jonathan Willis
November 24 2013 11:30AM

With the Edmonton Oilers struggling as they are, Craig MacTavish hasn’t exactly been given a free pass by fans in his first full season as general manager. What even his most ardent critics should agree on, though, is that it looks like he fleeced the St. Louis Blues when he pawned off Magnus Paajarvi and a draft pick in exchange for David Perron.

Perron was already a pretty good player when MacTavish added him. But the 25-year-old forward is on pace to exceed his previous career bests – and by a lot.

The Basic Numbers

The chart above shows Perron’s 82-game pace from every season in his career where he played more than 40 games. The only preceding season even close to his early work this year was 2011-12, where Perron rode a high shooting percentage to a 30-goal pace.

The really astonishing item here is Perron’s shot totals. Players don’t typically see huge leaps in shot totals, but Perron is running at more than double his established career rate. What’s going on?

Five-on-five

Numbers for this chart (and the next one) come from ExtraSkater.com and BehindtheNet.ca.

There really isn’t much to see at this level: Perron is a hair below his career goal numbers and a touch above his career assist numbers.

But something interesting happens when we compare Perron’s shot numbers for this season to last season. Perron had 61 shots at five-on-five in 48 games a year ago; this season he has 54 in 20 games. He’s firing the puck roughly twice as often as he has in the past once ice-time is accounted for. His goal totals are only at his career rate because his shooting percentage is half what it was last year at even-strength.

In short: he’s been good so far, but if these shot numbers are for real he’s likely going to be even better at evens in the near future. Which is frightening.

Five-on-four

Perron’s numbers are through the roof here. Some of that may come from playing on a better power play unit – it’s extremely difficult to separate teammate and coaching effects from player talent when looking at special teams numbers – and the assist totals in particular may not be ridiculous.

As for the goal totals? Digging into the shot numbers again, we find that Perron is again firing the puck at roughly twice the rate he did in St. Louis, but this time his shooting percentage is roughly double what it was last season. This to some degree will off-set the expected rise in his five-on-five shooting percentage.

In other words, these numbers are likely going to come down because that spike in shooting percentage probably isn’t sustainable, but even so he’s legitimately on pace for a career-best season.

The Biggest Question

I can’t recall an instance of an experienced NHL forward suddenly doubling his shot rates at the age of 25. One of the reasons people like me prize shot rates so much is because they tend to be pretty stable; players reach an established level of ability and move a bit but the fluctuations are nowhere near as dramatic as shooting percentage is.

I don’t know if Perron can keep up this shooting pace, and I didn’t watch him closely enough in St. Louis to hazard a guess as to what’s changed. One item that stands out – Tyler Dellow brought it to my attention on Twitter last night – is that Perron is getting a higher percentage of his shots through to the net (he has 16 missed shots on 80 shots this year; last year the number was 31 on 84) and that seems like something that probably won’t continue, but it isn’t close to being the whole explanation either.

My gut feeling is that Perron shoots a little less frequently simply because this is so far out of the norm, but at the same time it seems entirely possible to me that this is a breakout campaign and an indication of a more trigger-happy player.

If so, that’s fantastic news for Edmonton. Perron is under contract for two more years at a $3.812 million cap hit; that’s a pretty fair deal for a 50-point guy and a ridiculously good deal for a player who will challenge for 30 goals every year if he keeps shooting like this.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 Thumby
November 24 2013, 03:56PM
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Johnnydapunk wrote:

That's my fear as well. With Belov as he doesn't seem to be interviewed much, it's hard to gauge what his mindset is. He is getting a lot of minutes and seems to have been left to just worry about hockey so that might work in the Oilers favour. He seems like a fairly principled guy, the signing of one year deals to keep his hunger to have to play for a new contract and also keep his options open is different, but kind of refreshing.

I think we are just starting to see him come into his game, he has a surprisingly nasty streak in him which has only just started to come out. This video from the KHL is what happens when you piss him off :-)

Belov reaction

Holy crap that kick was a dangerous thing to do...

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#102 OILERSORDEATH
November 24 2013, 05:26PM
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@DSF

Wow yeah such gems, wonder why such an offensive juggernaut can just yet again score 1 goal in a game. Top notch drafting, really Impressive.

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#103 OILERSORDEATH
November 24 2013, 05:28PM
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OILERSORDEATH wrote:

Wow yeah such gems, wonder why such an offensive juggernaut can just yet again score 1 goal in a game. Top notch drafting, really Impressive.

In regards to Vancouver's drafting

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#104 Darrell
November 24 2013, 06:23PM
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DSF wrote:

Well, Vancouver did go to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals 3 years ago.

Drafting, badly, hardly compensates.

Vancouver 3, Oilers 7 and Calgary went 8 years ago with no sign of life for any of the franchises. I will take the draft picks at this point but you're right enough is enough. Why not use some of that knowledge to support the Oilers as it would be freshing for once ...

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#105 speeds
November 24 2013, 06:42PM
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At the time, I wasn't a big fan of the trade - I thought EDM overpaid in adding a 2nd to the deal. Not saying I thought it was a massive overpayment, but a bit of an overpayment nonetheless. Looks like I was wrong at this point, but the concerns I had - Paajarvi was cheaper, under team control for longer, and less perceived injury concern - haven't gone away after 24 games. Perron has been a better player than I was expecting, but I think this article shows he's been a better player than anyone could reasonably have expected, with the possible exception of MacT and his staff since they traded for him - not unreasonable to think they thought there was untapped potential in Perron.

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#106 acg5151
November 24 2013, 06:44PM
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@DSF

My point - even the best drafting teams make mistakes.

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#107 pkam
November 24 2013, 07:04PM
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DSF wrote:

Oh, like all teams, they make mistakes but there is a reason they've made the playoffs for 7 years in a row. (might not this season).

To what do you attribute their ongoing success?

4th overall in 1998 then 2nd and 3rd overall in 1999, and finally after almost 10 years.

Base on this precedence, the Oilers will make the playoff 7 years in a row in around 2017 - 2024.

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#108 YFC Prez
November 24 2013, 07:04PM
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bulldog12 wrote:

Negative negative negative You guys are really getting tiring Try coming up with something positive or remotely intelligent.

Perron looks crazy psychotic in that picture. Depending on your perspective that can be quite positive.

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#109 pkam
November 24 2013, 07:06PM
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@JW

How about Gordon? How is his projected number this year compare to his career average and career high?

I think so far he is very impressive too.

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#110 pkam
November 24 2013, 07:31PM
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DSF wrote:

Making the playoffs is certainly not the ultimate goal but it sure beats the alternative.

The fact is, Red Wings only made the playoff twice in 16 years (from 1966-67 to 1982-83) and nobody is talking about it. Everyone is talking about their 2 cups in the last 10 years, or their 4 cups in the last 20 years.

Also, nobody is talking about the Canucks 7 years playoff streak, but everyone is talking about their 43 year cupless streak.

The only exception is Canucks fans.

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#111 dobiezeke
November 24 2013, 09:25PM
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@DSF

Both have put up exactly the same amount of Stanley Cup banners in the rafters.

No one remembers the "first loser"...

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#112 YFC Prez
November 24 2013, 09:30PM
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Wow. This thread is totally derailed.

Mr DSF ,

Can you agree on the 2 main points from Willis' article ? 1 Mac T fleeced St. Louis on the deal sending out Paajarvi and getting Perron. 2 Perron is having a career year offensively.

I'm fairly confident even the most jaded fan such as yourself will agree with these 2 points.

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#113 OilFanInVan
November 24 2013, 10:31PM
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@Larry

You nailed it Larry. Paid trolls are here to keep more and more posts happening and thus keep the only revenue a site like this can generate (advertising) coming. Advertisers only pay for page views and comments... This happens on almost every large advertising only revenue based website.

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#114 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 25 2013, 09:49AM
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@Walter Sobchak

Top pairing defenders don't grow on trees, as much as I wish they did. And it's a little more complicated than getting a couple centres, MacT needs to find a couple centres that bring an element the Oil are missing, namely size and functional toughness. And those don't grown on trees either.

I'd say they have the pieces to make a good 3rd line. The fourth line definitely needs a serious overhaul, when you're right, you're right.

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#115 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 25 2013, 09:57AM
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@camdog

If the 'Smid with offense' comparison of Klefbom is correct, then I would completely understand jettisoning Smid at his cap hit. But if Belov elects to go to a contender, and Klefbom doesn't live up to his billing, the Oilers could be hurting for defensemen next year.

Here's hoping Belov signs here and the big Swede is all that and a bag of chips. I'm looking forward to shouting 'DROP THE K-BOMB' when opponents cross the blue.

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#116 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 25 2013, 10:09AM
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Dubnyk named one of the NHL's 3 stars of the week:

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=693003&navid=DL|NHL|home

So… I guess everyone predicting he had eternally cratered was being reactionary… who would have guessed?

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#117 pkam
November 25 2013, 10:12AM
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camdog wrote:

I'm starting to follow Mact's logic here, not saying that I agree, but I understand.

Mact thinks that Klefbomb will be as tough as Smid and ready for next season. Between Belov and N.Shultz the Smid role became redundant. The organization doesn't think Smid is good enough with the puck and not tough enough to warrant keeping around for another 3 seasons at his projected salary and subsequent cap hit.

I agree with the assessment of Smid and agree he is redundant. But I am still pissed at that trade for the little return that we get.

Perron is also redundant in the Blues roster and they need to dump his salary, yet they get something back in MPS and a 2nd. What do we get for Smid? A 170 lb AHL center and a goalie prospect who just graduated from WHL. I don't care about giving Roy because he won't get us anything anyway.

Didn't San Jose Sharks get 2 2nd round picks for Douglas Murray last year at trade deadline? I'll take Smid over Murray any day. So can we at least get one 2nd round pick for Smid?

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#118 pkam
November 25 2013, 10:17AM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

If the 'Smid with offense' comparison of Klefbom is correct, then I would completely understand jettisoning Smid at his cap hit. But if Belov elects to go to a contender, and Klefbom doesn't live up to his billing, the Oilers could be hurting for defensemen next year.

Here's hoping Belov signs here and the big Swede is all that and a bag of chips. I'm looking forward to shouting 'DROP THE K-BOMB' when opponents cross the blue.

The Habs just signed Alexei Emelin to 4 years @ 4.1M per. I guess Belov will be asking somewhere around that number. If we believe we can sign him to 3-4 years @ 3.5M per, then it is a better contract that Smid's 3.5M contract.

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#119 pkam
November 25 2013, 10:31AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Dubnyk named one of the NHL's 3 stars of the week:

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=693003&navid=DL|NHL|home

So… I guess everyone predicting he had eternally cratered was being reactionary… who would have guessed?

I have said before, by the end of the year, his SV% will be .915 or better, mean average or better than average.

Dubnyk's number is about the same as Crawford and Crawford has a much better team in front of him.

If we want an elite goalie, than Dubnyk is not the answer. But who is going to trade away their elite goalie?

Before we can develop our elite goalie (either we draft our own or we trade for a prospect with the potential), I think we are stuck with Dubnyk.

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#120 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2013, 10:40AM
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pkam wrote:

I agree with the assessment of Smid and agree he is redundant. But I am still pissed at that trade for the little return that we get.

Perron is also redundant in the Blues roster and they need to dump his salary, yet they get something back in MPS and a 2nd. What do we get for Smid? A 170 lb AHL center and a goalie prospect who just graduated from WHL. I don't care about giving Roy because he won't get us anything anyway.

Didn't San Jose Sharks get 2 2nd round picks for Douglas Murray last year at trade deadline? I'll take Smid over Murray any day. So can we at least get one 2nd round pick for Smid?

This is my main beef with it. If they thought he was redundant for next year, the right move is to wait for the trade deadline when even mediocre defencemen will net a decent return from teams making a push.

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#121 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 25 2013, 10:44AM
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@war

I'll give him credit for chasing Schneider and Bishop, at least he recognizes the weakness in net. Was it ever revealed what Gillis was asking for? Schneider would look great between the pipes in orange and blue right now, and this season would probably have started much differently.

Plus my sister is a massive Vancouver fan, I'd have loved to be able to rub her nose in it.

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#122 pkam
November 25 2013, 11:08AM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

I'll give him credit for chasing Schneider and Bishop, at least he recognizes the weakness in net. Was it ever revealed what Gillis was asking for? Schneider would look great between the pipes in orange and blue right now, and this season would probably have started much differently.

Plus my sister is a massive Vancouver fan, I'd have loved to be able to rub her nose in it.

Rumor was Gillis asked a 1st and 2nd rounder plus a high prospect like Marincin or Pitlick.

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#123 CellyHard
November 25 2013, 11:27AM
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@WILLIS Do you think maybe a different coach and team could be why? He said Edmonton was more catered to his play style then St Louis.

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#124 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 25 2013, 12:08PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

This is my main beef with it. If they thought he was redundant for next year, the right move is to wait for the trade deadline when even mediocre defencemen will net a decent return from teams making a push.

You make a good point......It makes you wonder about the details......did they consider moving Nick Schultz before Smid but could find no takers? Did they value N Schultz more than Smid?(which would imply that they think Smids reputation as a tough gritty D man was exaggerated)....or did they value them about equally but liked the Schultz contract more ....or was it that the return for Smid was greater than what was offered for Schultz?

Also, did their scouts value Brossoit and Horak more than most of us casual observers do?

Also, is the new management style gaining traction?.....not waiting around once a decision is made....impatient....etc.

I wish the local media would ask these questions in the pressers....or maybe they did and I missed it?

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#125 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 25 2013, 12:13PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

I'll give him credit for chasing Schneider and Bishop, at least he recognizes the weakness in net. Was it ever revealed what Gillis was asking for? Schneider would look great between the pipes in orange and blue right now, and this season would probably have started much differently.

Plus my sister is a massive Vancouver fan, I'd have loved to be able to rub her nose in it.

Here's hoping that Darnell Nurse and Marc Olivier Roy, in hindsight, make this one of the best trades that the Oilers never made.

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#126 Walter Sobchak
November 25 2013, 03:20PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

Dubnyk named one of the NHL's 3 stars of the week:

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=693003&navid=DL|NHL|home

So… I guess everyone predicting he had eternally cratered was being reactionary… who would have guessed?

Ya, ok.

~After wins vs the powerhouse Blue Jackets & the Flames, this set Dubnyk up for the real test which was the Panthers! ~

If Dubnyks the answer, then why are the Oilers looking so hard for a replacement?

Don't answer that, I'll come back to that after December & January.

You do this Rom, I tell you Paajarvi is junk, you throw stats at me, I tell you Hartikainen is junk you still throw stats.

Tell me something you know that the coaching staff & management don't know? Cause you are a complete miss on both Paajarvi & Hartkainen despite what the eyes tell everyone.

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