Should the Oilers consider signing Corey Perry?

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
5 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers have a need, and there’s a free agent without a home who could fill it.
Starting the 2023-24 campaign with the Chicago Blackhawks, Corey Perry caught fire scoring four goals and nine points in 16 games, as the veteran had been brought in to help mentor young Connor Bedard.
That, however, blew up in the organization’s face when an alleged alcohol-fueled incident centring Perry at a team function featuring corporate partners and team employees saw the winger sent home. Soon after, still dealing with the fallout of the Brad Aldrich story, the Blackhawks terminated Perry’s contract, citing a “violation of his Standard Playing Contract and the Blackhawks’ internal policies intended to promote professional and safe work environments.”
Never officially suspended by the NHL for the incident, things have been quiet around Perry since late November, beyond him issuing an apology for his actions saying he “started working with experts in the mental health and substance abuse fields to discuss my struggles with alcohol and I will take whatever steps necessary to ensure this never happens again.”
And on Tuesday, a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman surfaced that Perry and commissioner Gary Bettman met to discuss the incident, and without it, teams “would be wary of signing him unless the league gave its blessing.”
All accounts indicate that has gone through, and now, teams will be lining up to get a chance to sign the 38 year-old Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli said during Thursday’s edition of Daily Faceoff Live, adding the meeting with Bettman was to help “clear the air.”
“I have zero doubt that he will (play again this season),” he said. “There is a significant amount of interest in Corey Perry, and the reason for that is this guy is a gamer. Look at his totals from just this year alone, a guy that has turned back the clock a little bit, at least before this all unfolded.
“He was on track for 50-some points this year. That part has been certainly something to behold. He did, of course, have the off-ice hiccup, which he acknowledged in his statement was alcohol-fueled.
“I can tell you this: three NHL GMs had called me the week he was suspended from the Blackhawks when all of this was hanging in the balance. The question to me was: ‘What happened? What do you know? How bad was it?’ and then the next thing was, ‘What do you think the blowback would be like if we signed this guy?’
“That’s sort of what teams have been sorting through. I don’t think Corey Perry has been ready right yet. He’s gone through that process, but make no mistake, there will certainly be a number of teams interested to try and nab this guy.”
Names Seravalli speculated on as options included the likes of the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, citing fit as top importance for him, but a potential signing of Perry is something that Ken Holland’s fingerprints should be all over.
First and foremost, the Oilers have historically been a team willing to give players a second chance. In the 1980s, Craig MacTavish got his second chance after missing the entire 1984-85 season after he was convicted of vehicular homicide. In 2015, recently retired Zack Kassian joined the Oilers after being placed in the NHL/NHLPA’s substance abuse program, playing 412 games in Edmonton and an additional 51 in Arizona. Most recently, Evander Kane joined the Oilers after breaching his contract with the San Jose Sharks due to a violation of AHL COVID-19 protocols.
Perry would be a natural fit on the Oilers’ third line as someone who can not only still produce, having scored 74 points in 179 games over the last three seasons, but as someone who can be a pest, too. The acumen for Perry is there. He won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and has been renowned around the league for his ability to get under opposing teams’ skins — something Oilers fans know all too well.
According to hockeyviz.com, Perry has been a consistently strong contributor throughout his career. Between 2017-18 and 2020-21, he steadily contributed at the rate of a third-line player, both offensively and defensively, while his contributions in each of the last three seasons saw him teetering as a first-line player. Impressive stuff.
What’s more impressive, however, is the fact Perry has been to three of the last four Stanley Cup Finals. He did so in 2020 with the Dallas Stars, again with the Montreal Canadiens in 2021, and once more in 2022 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite that, those first two teams fell to the Lightning, while falling to the Colorado Avalanche in 2022 with Tampa.
And for the Oilers, arguably the most important element is that Perry would likely cost next to nothing to sign. His deal with the Blackhawks this year saw him earn a $2-million signing bonus and a $4-million cap hit, in part to helping them reach the salary floor. But in each of his last four seasons, Perry’s cap hit averaged out to just a hair over $1-million per year.
Assuming the Oilers signed Perry to a pro-rated deal through the remainder of the year, and that the club would send down Adam Erne to the AHL to make the money work, the two sides could come to an agreement on a deal with a maximum dollar figure of $957,833 based on the club’s current cap situation, according to CapFriendly’s Armchair GM mode. A league minimum deal of $775,000, meanwhile would be even more ideal, giving the Oilers $200,833 in cap space.
Simply put, the Oilers have the loose change lying around to bring Perry in for a second chance this season, and there would surely be motivation from the player to put the November incident behind him and help the club chase a Stanley Cup title.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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