What’s Happened to David Perron?
A skilled winger with three 20 goal seasons and two 50 point campaigns to his name, David Perron might seem like an ideal person to slot in along side Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh.
Previous injuries appear to be behind him, most notable a serious concussion in 2011, and he registered 28 goals and 57 points whilst playing on a tyre fire of an Oilers team in 2013/14.
But the 27-year old hasn’t so much stumbled in Pennsylvania as he has fallen off the Earth entirely.
The Sherbrooke, Quebec native is pointless through eight games this season, despite being placed on the second line with Malkin and Patric Hornqvist (recently switched out for Phil Kessel) whilst also holding a spot on the Penguins second powerplay unit.
An argument could be made that Perron’s decline coincides with the clubs general funk through the opening weeks of the season – Pittsburgh has scored just 13 goals in their opening eight games, fewest in the East and 29th overall – but the former Blues winger has been firing blanks for some time now.
Perron does not have a goal for 20 straight regular season games now (his last was against Detroit on March 15th) and has recorded just one assist during that same span. Against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals, Perron registered a single assist in five games.
As noted, a team wide scoring slump won’t have helped Perron’s PDO (which has dipped from 96.97 to 94.95 at 5-on-5) or his Corsi For (54.59% down to 43.65% – again at 5-on-5), but as a top six forward he has to assume part of the responsibility for that, and as someone earning $3.8m this season, it’s safe to say more is expected of Perron.
An unrestricted free agent next summer, it seems unfathomable Perron could find success with ever changing line mates in Edmonton (he logged more minutes with Sam Gagner than anyone else in 2013/14) but not two of the top five players in the world – but that’s the situation we appear to have laid out before us.
There is some hope perhaps. Perron isn’t completely absent from the game sheet, as his 19 shots places him sixth on a Penguins side averaging more than 30 shots per game at present. But the longer the slump drags on, the more games that pass without the winger making an impression, the more his place in the league comes under scrutiny.
Pittsburgh do not have a wealth of cap space to fall back on, with Perron becoming somewhat expendable as Pascal Dupuis returns to health, and as Curtis Glencross found, veterans are not guaranteed a job based on reputation anymore.
Perron’s skill set will likely buy him some time, a little slack. Selected 26th overall in 2007, Perron has shown an aptitude as both a goal scorer and playmaker in years past and logic might dictate he can’t stay in this hole forever, and it is only a matter of time before he finds his feet again.
But watching Perron and the Penguins right now, it’s not pretty.
Maybe this is simply a case of a player and club seemingly matching up on paper but not on the ice, and moving Perron might be the best for all concerned; because if things continue as they are the Penguins will find they have more and more ground to make up and Perron might be out of a job next summer.