Yesterday’s trade involving David Perron and Magnus Paajarvi showed me the Oilers are finished "waiting" for prospects to develop. That doesn’t mean they won’t allows Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and Darnell Nurse time to mature, but Craig MacTavish won’t be afraid to deal one of his young players for a more mature and proven, yet still young, NHL player.
The rebuild stage isn’t completely over, but I believe the Oilers are entering a new phase that will be more about shaping the team instead of just stockpiling young talent.
Perron is only 25 years old, but he’s entering his 7th NHL season. He’s clearly the better player today, and likely will be in the future.
I’m surprised how many people have suggested Paajarvi will mature into a better player. He is a better skater, and he’s bigger, but he doesn’t play bigger and he’s never been a big-time scorer at any level, so I’m curious what they base that assumption on. Someone actually suggested to me that Paajarvi could be like Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk wasn’t a scorer in Russia, but he became one in the NHL.
It is true Datsyuk wasn’t a big scorer in Russia, but he also wasn’t drafted until he was 20 and was taken in the 6th round. He was the ultimate late developer, and no offence to Paajarvi, he doesn’t possess 1/2 of Datsyuk’s offensive skill, but very few NHL players do. It is great to find the one the player who defines the odds and stats, but assuming that Paajarvi is suddenly going to develop above average "hands" is wishful thinking.
I think Paajarvi will have a long NHL career, but he doesn’t have the offensive capabilities of Perron. I think Perron will fit in well with the Oilers, while Paajarvi will give the Blues some much needed speed in their top-nine, but I don’t see him becoming a scorer in St. Louis.
I know points are only one aspect of the game, and Perron doesn’t solve the Oilers need for a big, skilled forward, but he plays a grittier game than Paajarvi. This trade gives MacTavish another skilled forward, and Perron is a better asset than Paajarvi.
Perron does have warts, however, and the biggest concern is whether he is willing to consistently go to the tough areas to score.
Andy Strickland from ESPN ST.Louis and www.truehockey.com wrote this about Perron.
Early in Perron’s career he was consistently among the league leaders in drawing penalties. He was incredibly difficult to knock off the puck and could protect the puck with one hand on his stick as good any player in the game. His ability to use his edges and fend off defenders was extremely impressive. He would often find himself near the crease of the opposing goaltender after the whistle where he had a knack of getting under the skin of the opposition.
But as his career progressed following his return from the concussion, we began seeing less of the game he displayed in his first few seasons. Even when Perron scored 21 goals in 57 games there was concern he wasn’t entering the hard areas of the ice as he once did.
Were the secondary concerns of his concussion mentally affecting his game? It’s a fair question to ask following his performance last season. There’s no doubt Perron felt somewhat handcuffed playing in a system that places a far greater emphasis on structure than creativity. He has an idea of how he needs to play to be successful and will be surrounded by more players that complement his style in Edmonton than he was in St. Louis.
Perron came on my radio show yesterday to discuss the trade.
Gregor: Were you surprised you were traded?
Perron: I heard my name a little bit around the NHL draft weekend. I wasn’t sure if it was going to get done. I was actually in Montreal today doing some media stuff for a hockey pool for next year. I got the call from Doug Armstrong and it was just a real shock at first, you don’t know what to think. As soon as you start thinking about the Edmonton Oilers and their team- It was exciting and the type of hockey that I like to play. I can’t wait to be joining the team and doing whatever I can to help them.
Gregor: The Oilers play a more up-tempo game than what Ken Hitchcock had in St. Louis. Why does that fit your game better?
Perron: I think if you look at the players that are on there, their skill level is incredible. I’m just going to try to come in and help them and play a big role on the team. I think, obviously, in St. Louis it’s pretty defensive minded hockey. At the same time, it’s a winning culture and I think it’s important to try to bring that into Edmonton. I think the team is really going in the right direction with all the moves that they are making.
Gregor: Ken Hitchcock told one of my co-workers, Mark Spector, that you played left wing, but he felt you were better on the right side when you attacked in the offensive zone. Which wing do you feel more comfortable on?
Perron: I like to play on the left side a little more. I think on the right side in St.Louis when I was playing there, the way we play is coming into the zone and we tried to hit the far pad on the goalie to create some rebounds and create some havoc in the zone. It seems to me that the Oilers are a much more puck possession team, trying to go in the zone with it. That’s why I think I’d like to play the left side a little more, but obviously I don’t think it matters too much. I’ll just try to fit in and hopefully have a lot of fun with these guys.
Gregor: Do you feel you are a guy who is not only skilled, but willing to go to the tough areas to score?
Perron: Well that’s something I’ve always tried to do even in juniors and coming into the NHL. When I was nineteen years old, I played with Keith Tkachuk for a couple years. He’s obviously a big guy, and told everyone to go to the net, that’s where you’ll score your ugly goals and at the end of the year you’ll have five or ten more just because you went there. He was really one of the big influences on me going to the net and obviously I like to have the puck on my stick. I like to carry it and make plays, but at the same time I try to play a game that’s going to try to draw penalties and do stuff like that.
Gregor: How is your health? Have you fully recovered from the concussion? Where do you see yourself as far as a guy moving forward, can you be a sixty point player?
Perron: I feel like I can be and that’s what I want to do. I want to improve every single year. I think for me, coming back from the concussion it seems like November, December, the months went by. It’s tough to kind of keep that same level of shape when you don’t know if you’re going to play. Then all of a sudden, we started playing in January. I felt like it was tough on me, it was tough on a lot of guys around the league. This summer, it feels so good for me training-wise and nutrition-wise, just doing all the right things that I can to improve in the off-season and something I didn’t have the luxury to do in the last two to three years.
Gregor: Were you close to going to play in Europe last year during the lockout?
Perron: Actually, guys with concussions I guess they’re not insured. Whoever had a concussion, even if you missed two days, three days, four days, it doesn’t matter, even if you miss a year, you’re not insured to try to go overseas and play in Europe. That’s the reason, talking to my agent, that he didn’t want me to go. I think it’s the same reason for a lot of guys, Crosby and many guys who have had a concussion before have decided to stay here. I was supposed to be going to Switzerland with one of my friends here in Sherbrooke, but I decided not to go.
- The Oilers won the Perron/Paajarvi trade, but MacTavish is aware he needs to make more moves. It isn’t easy acquiring a big, skilled forward, and I don’t see him acquiring one in a Hemsky trade. I suspect Hemsky gets dealt for a 3rd line winger with size.
- Four LA Kings: Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin and Jordan Nolan all filed for arbitration. The Kings only have $5 million in cap space to sign those four and Kyle Clifford. Some have suggested the Kings will put Jarret Stoll on LTIR, but that is premature thinking. The Kings are in a cap crunch, and if I’m MacTavish I’d be making calls about Clifford. An offer sheet is off the table now that the Oilers don’t have their 2nd round pick.
- Many wondered why I didn’t write an article on why the Oilers should make an offer sheet for Alex Pietrangelo or Chris Stewart instead of Clifford. Clearly, both of them are better than Clifford, but I felt the Clifford offer sheet was less of a gamble, and with the Kings tight to the cap the chance of it working was higher.
The only way the Blues let Pietrangelo walk is if the Oilers offered him a $9 million cap hit, and even then they might match. If the Oilers offer him $9 million, and the Blues didn’t match it the Oilers would have to give them four 1st round picks. I don’t believe the Oilers have enough depth in the organization to go four years without a 1st rounder.
Stewart is an interesting case. He’s a rare breed; a skilled power forward, but he’s also been inconsistent. He did shed 25 pounds last summer after learning he was allergic to brown rice and eliminated it from his diet. He’s only 25 and he’s already had two 28-goal seasons, and he had 18 last year (prorates to 30 over 82 game season).
Would a four-year deal at $5.5- $5.7 million be enough to scare of the Blues? Would it be a wise move by the Oilers? I’d make that move, but I still doubt the Blues would let him walk. They traded Perron to make cap space to sign Stewart and Pietrangelo.
- Here is the compensation chart for offer sheets:
$1,110,249 or below None
Over $1,110,249 to $1,682,194 Third-round choice
Over $1,682,194 to $3,364,391 Second-round choice
Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 First-round and third-round choice
Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 1st, 2nd and a 3rd round choice
Over $6,728,781 to $8,410,976 Two 1sts, a 2nd and a 3rd round choice
Over $8,410,976 Four first-round choices