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How the Edmonton Oilers almost landed Corey Perry

Corey Perry is far from a fan favourite in Edmonton.

But that’s probably the case for fans of any other team in the NHL that Perry isn’t playing on. He’s tenacious, mucks it up after the whistle, and plays the game on the edge.

And he was almost an Edmonton Oiler for life.

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The story starts at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, one of the deepest in league history. Edmonton traded back in the first round and ended up using the 22nd overall pick on Marc Pouliot, who later turned into one of the few players from that first round to play under 200 NHL games.

Eight spots later, the Anaheim Ducks drafted Perry. Six months later, he was almost traded.

The Oilers and GM Kevin Lowe were in a contract dispute with Mike Comrie and Lowe began to work on a trade. Lowe had a deal in place to trade Comrie to the Ducks in exchange for Perry and a first-round pick, but as part of the deal Lowe insisted Comrie be required to pay back half the bonuses from his rookie deal — totalling $2.535-million — and the deal subsequently fell apart.

The story was brought back to the light by Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones, and rightly so. Perry has had quite an NHL career scoring 377 goals and 797 points in 1045 NHL games. Edmonton could’ve used a top-end forward like Perry at the time and all through the 2000’s in what would’ve been a franchise-altering trade.

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Interestingly enough, the first-round pick, presuming it was in the 2004 draft, was held onto by the Ducks who used the pick to select Czech defenceman Ladislav Smid. He, of course, joined the Oilers years later in the Chris Pronger trade.

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But back to Perry, it would’ve been incredible to see him don the Oilers colours. Whatever you think of him, the truth is he’s been a dynamic force in the NHL for a decade. At his peak he was a 50 goal scorer who totalled 98 points that won the Hart and Rocket Richard trophy in 2010-11. He’s been great in the playoffs, too, scoring 41 goals and 98 points in 144 games.

Hey, look what he’s done with the Dallas Stars this year. He scored 21 points in 57 games and another nine in 26 playoff games. He’s scored timely goals, too, including the OT winner to force game six tonight.

The Oilers in the early 2000’s were cash strapped, so that could’ve been a reason why Lowe had asked Comrie to pay back the bonuses. At the end of the day, however, the trade back fired. Edmonton shipped Comrie off to the Philadelphia Flyers for a package that never turned out to be a quarter of what Perry would’ve been for the Oilers.

Oh, and Comrie never did pay back the bonuses in the Flyers deal. Sigh.

On Twitter: @zjlaing

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