Several veterans in this year’s UFA class appeared as though they wouldn’t be going anywhere, and one of those names was that of St. Louis Blues winger David Perron. Back in late May, Perron had expressed his interest in returning to the Blues, who are not the only team he has ever played for, but they are the only team he has ever signed a contract with. Conversely, around the same time, Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong made it clear that he wanted to bring Perron back. A reunion between the two sides made perfect sense, Perron being a perennial offensive weapon for the Blues since the start of his career, though mixing in stints with the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, and Vegas Golden Knights.
Now, just about a day-and-a-half from the opening of free agency, The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports that Perron is expected to hit the open market on Wednesday, making it unlikely he will return to the Blues. Seravalli adds that cordial talks have been ongoing between team and player, but the team simply does not have the necessary salary cap space to make an appropriate offer to Perron. The news is tough for the Blues, and presumably Perron, who were hoping to continue the relationship, but the realities of a flat salary cap have taken hold. The Blues currently have $9MM in available salary cap space, but do have to re-sign several RFAs and may look to retain pending UFA Nick Leddy. Even if this offseason was no problem, chances are Perron will command a multi-year contract, and St. Louis also has four star forwards with expiring contracts next offseason: UFAs Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly and RFAs Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, amongst others.
One positive to take from the update on Perron is the amicable nature of ongoing discussions, with the impasse being St. Louis’ cap situation rendering them unable to make what would constitute a reasonable offer. In other words, the desire for a new contract is apparently still there between both sides. It would be highly unlikely that the Blues can shed the necessary cap to make that offer to Perron by Wednesday afternoon, however Perron does have the option to take a wait-and-see approach on his free agency. While that option could be risky for Perron, if he does do so and the Blues cannot do what’s needed to offer him a contract, the veteran could serve as an option for a team who sought to spend on another top-notch option like a Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeni Malkin, or Claude Giroux, but missed out.
Some may wonder, with Perron coming off of a four-year, $16MM pact, and the Blues having $9MM in salary cap space, what would, absent Tarasenko, O’Reilly, Thomas, and Kyrou’s contracts next year, stop St. Louis from bringing Perron back, especially on a one-year deal? Although it is technically possible, Perron is coming off a rather team-friendly deal that allowed him to return to St. Louis, signing at the $4MM AAV after posting 66 points in 70 games for Vegas the season before. Since then, Perron has continued his performance, even stepping up his game, scoring 94 goals to go along with 127 assists in 251 games over the life of the contract, including a 2020-21 that featured 58 points in 56 games. At 34 years of age, producing as well as he ever has, Perron could be due a fairly long-term deal and would be unlikely to settle at such a team-friendly rate once again.