Oilers Off-Season: Could Edmonton Pursue Corey Perry?

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks

Corey Perry has been a thorn in the side of the Edmonton Oilers since he truly emerged as an NHL’er during the 2005-06 season. A staple of the most successful era in Anaheim Duck history, Perry won a Hart Trophy during his career and was one of the toughest, most annoying skill players in the league.

His time in Anaheim appears over. According to reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun, the Ducks have been exploring trade options for Perry and have considered buying him out. Perry has two years remaining on a contract that will pay him $8,625,000 per year.

Why A Buyout?:

It became very apparent during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs that the Ducks simply weren’t the Ducks anymore. Players like Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler simply looked too slow in the postseason, and the Ducks were easily chewed up by San Jose.

According to sources, the Ducks entered this past season with an eye towards dangling Perry at the deadline if he stayed healthy. Perry got hurt in training camp and only played in 31 games for the club. He managed only ten points (6-4-10) and looked largely ineffective.

His cap hit is rather large, and it would be hard for a team to justify trading for a veteran coming off an ineffective stretch and major injury at that number. The Ducks would need to eat salary, and it’s doubtful they would get a meaningful return in trade.

Buying out Perry would give the Ducks significant breathing room for 2019-20. A buyout would save the Ducks $6,000,000 this season, and $2,000,000 in 2020-21 according to Cap Friendly. The team would carry a dead cap hit of $2,000,000 in both 2021-22 and 2022-23.

Should the Ducks go that route, Perry would be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. Regardless of his tough season, teams would be interested.

Dreger thinks Edmonton should be one of them.

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Does Perry Make Sense?:

Even at 34, Perry would still be one of Edmonton’s beter wingers. I’m not sure if that is a tip of the cap to the veteran, or a knock on Edmonton’s depth. Either way, Perry could help the club on a one-year deal for the 2019-20 season.

Perry would doubtless help the perceived leadership void in the locker room. Perhaps he could come in and assist Connor McDavid the way Matt Hendricks did in 97’s first year as captain in 2016-17. Regardless of what people say, having Hendricks around helped McDavid and that locker room.

In terms of on-ice play, Perry wasn’t himself last season. As mentioned above, he posted just ten points and scored six goals in 31 games after starting the year on LTIR. It’s possible that, like Andrej Sekera, Perry was shaking off the rust and will rebound after a healthy summer and training camp.

His 10.2% shooting percentage was right in line with recent trends, while his 93.2 PDO suggests Perry also ran into some bad luck on a bad Ducks team. His possession metrics weren’t great, but it’s important to remember the Ducks were a terrible team and Perry was returning from injury.

He posted a Corsi For percentage of 47% at five-on-five, the second straight season he’s been under 50%. He was negative relative to his teammates in the discipline as well, posting a -2.1% Corsi For Rel.

(All numbers via hockey-reference)

Final Thoughts:

This would take some serious getting used to for fans of the Edmonton Oilers. For what seems like ever, Perry has been loathed by this fanbase and has been public enemy number one. I think it would require some warming up to by the fanbase.

That said, winning solves everything. If Perry can bring leadership and an effective middle-six game to Edmonton, fans will love him in short order. He’s not the 30-goal scorer he once was, but a 15-20 goal season from Perry on the second line is certainly not out of the question.

Depending on the contract demands, the Oilers absolutely should investigate this possibility. They simply aren’t deep enough on the wings to ignore it.

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