David Perron said it was tough to leave an organization behind when traded, but certainly in his head he was doing back-flips knowing he was going from an organization looking forward to the lottery yet again to one that could contend for the Stanley Cup.
Perron was able to establish himself as a 20-goal scorer coming through the St. Louis Blues organization. The first half of his career, he said, was focused on playing well enough to become a regular NHLer. He did that, even while dealing a 2010 concussion that kept him out of the game for over a year. Now 27, and after the spending the last year and a half in Edmonton, he wants to win a Cup, and this trade certainly helps that goal.
“As a player, once you’ve played a few years in the league all you start to worry about is winning hockey games,” Perron said on Saturday morning after arriving in Pittsburgh.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said on Friday that he had been seeking a top-six forward since October, even before his roster was wrecked with injuries, cancer and mumps. As The Pens Blog pointed out in June after he was hired, Rutherford isn’t one to wait until the trade deadline to bolster his lineups. Before the Perron deal, in 13 of his last 17 years as a GM, he's made moves in December or January.
"It's my preference,” Rutherford said. “When you look at deadline deals, there's not many of those deals that impact the playoffs. You don't have a lot of time to get a guy into your team and get accustomed to your team.”
After working out some visa issues, Perron will be in the lineup Saturday night when the Penguins host the Montreal Canadiens.
Perron is jumping from a team in Edmonton that could use a few good centers to one in Pittsburgh who have built their success on the three-headed monster model down the middle. Mike Johnston didn’t know exactly yet where he would slot Perron in their top-six, but with the forward's versatility to play either wing, the Penguins head coach has options.
From Leon Draisaitl to Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, Perron could hardly contain his excitement thinking about the upgrade.
“It’s going to be amazing to play with any of those three guys, obviously,” Perron said. “I just think the play starts from the middle, from the breakout when the d-men hit the guy in the middle. They’re the the one that can bring a lot of speed throughout the neutral zone and then they kick it wide to getting it into the zone, they drive the net.
“They kind of, in a way, drive the play and create the whole space for everyone, so it’s going to be nice to be a part of that.”
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