Does David Perron make sense as a trade target for the Edmonton Oilers?

Photo credit:Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Sunil Agnihotri
5 months ago
One of the issues that the Edmonton Oilers front office will need to address shortly is their depth scoring across the third and fourth lines at even-strength (5v5). While the Oilers have had little problem out-scoring opponents at even-strength with Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl on the ice, without one or both of them the team has been outscored 36-33 — a -3 goal differential.
The good news is that the bottom six group of forwards have done an admirable job at controlling the flow of play and generating scoring chances this season, as reflected by the team’s 53.76 percent Corsi for percentage and 53.09 percent Expected Goals for percentage. So they’re performing well, possessing the puck more often and spending more time in the offensive zone.
The problem is that as a group, the bottom six forwards have posted a shooting percentage of only 6.48 percent, which is well below the league average of 8.57 percent. That’s a problem considering that the Oilers spend 46 percent of their total even-strength time without one of their star players on the ice – so there’s plenty of room for improvement.
One player whose name has come up recently as a potential trade target for the Oilers is 35-year-old winger David Perron of the Detroit Red Wings. Perron is in the final year of a two-year contract, and will likely be dealt at the trade deadline if Detroit falls out of the playoff race. The Red Wings are currently tied with Toronto in the Atlantic division with 60 points and have moved up to the second wild card spot having gone 10-2-2 since January 1st. I’m not expecting this hot streak to continue considering their underlying shot share numbers are some of the worst in the league this year, having posted a Corsi for percentage and Expected Goals for percentage of only 45 percent. Regardless, Perron is likely to be playing important minutes in the post-season – either with Detroit or elsewhere.
The question now is if David Perron makes sense for Edmonton to give their depth scoring a boost.
The reasons for acquiring Perron are pretty straightforward. He’s won a Stanley Cup. He’s put up 745 points in 1,100 games and 61 points in 104 playoff games, and has been fairly consistent over the course of his career. He’s got that blend of skill and tenacity that coaches and fans love, and has a reputation of being a leader and team guy. He’s moved into a depth role with Detroit this season, ranking ninth in even-strength ice time and average ice time per game among the forwards. But he’s still highly valued across the league.
The problem with acquiring Perron is that he’s hit a wall this season, and is performing and producing well below his career levels.
Let’s start with his actual results and his personal rate of points per hour at even-strength. This season, he’s put up 11 points in 45 games — a rate of only 1.28. That’s significantly lower than his rate of scoring over his last five seasons, where he’s posted a rate of 1.81 points per hour — right around where you’d expect a second-line player to be. Looking over his career, it’s clear that his production has actually been declining for a few years now, and it’s hard to expect it to improve, considering what we know about player aging curves.
What’s especially startling to see is Perron’s drop off in scoring and his ability to finish scoring chances, as his personal shooting percentage currently sits at only 6.5 percent this season. This is well below his career shooting percentage of 11.8 percent and his shooting percentage over the last five seasons of 12.60 percent — excellent consistency and pretty remarkable for someone who’s played over 1,000 games. Perron’s historical scoring levels are what the Oilers would love to add to their bottom six forwards to boost the team’s scoring rates, but unfortunately, it just hasn’t been there for Perron this season, making acquiring him a bit risky.
Perron’s inability to finish chances and his drop in personal production could be blamed on the fact that he’s playing further down the lineup with lesser-skilled linemates. But his poor production is also due to the fact that the Red Wings often spend more time without the puck and in their own zone whenever Perron is on the ice. Again, this is something Perron used to excel at over his career as he often helped drive his team’s ability to out-shoot and out-chance opponents. But it appears the forward has lost a step this season as his relative-t0-team numbers have been in the negatives, indicating that he may be a drag to his team instead of a driver like he used to be.
The Red Wings as a group are posting some of the worst shot-share numbers in the league this season, and it appears things get worse when Perron has been on the ice. With him deployed, the Red Wings have posted a Corsi For percentage of 42.13 percent and an Expected goals for percentage of only 37.45 percent – one of the worst on-ice numbers in the league. As indicated by the bar graph above, this Expected goals for percentage is a drop of over 10 percentage points compared to when he isn’t on the ice.
Again, this is a major drop-off when you compare his on-ice performance to previous seasons, indicating that he’s not the same player as he was and that he could end up reducing your team’s chances of scoring goals. So far in Detroit, the team has posted a -7 goal differential with Perron on the ice and +10 goal differential without him.
There’s no question that Perron will be sought after by the trade deadline if the Red Wings fall out of the playoff race, as he has a unique skill set and plenty of experience. But for what the Oilers need right now, which is actual scoring from the bottom six, I don’t think he would be a good fit. His performance numbers have fallen off as he’s no longer the play driver he once was. And his ability to finish chances just hasn’t been there this season.
Data: Natural Stat Trick

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