ST. LOUIS -- With restricted free agents Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart and Jake Allen still to sign, and limited space to squeeze them under the salary cap, the St. Louis Blues traded forward David Perron on Wednesday to get some room.
But Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said sending Perron to the Edmonton Oilers wasn't just a move to free up salary-cap space but one that adds an impact player, forward Magnus Paajarvi, in return.
The Blues traded Perron, a left wing, to the Oilers for Paajarvi and a second-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. The deal will enable the Blues to shed Perron's contract, which would have taken up $3.8 million in cap space in 2013-14 and $12.25 million over its final three years.
The Blues add a player they feel is still evolving: Paajarvi, who is 22 and brings speed along with a 6-foot-3, 208-pound frame. The restricted free agent was the 10th player taken in the 2009 NHL Draft. He had a cap value of $1.525 million last season on his entry-level deal, according to CapGeek.com.
"We certainly didn't make this trade just for salary-cap purposes," Armstrong said Wednesday. "If we were going to make a move, we wanted to add a player that we think fits into our organization where we are today and where we are moving forward. To get a young player that has obviously been highly thought of in his draft year and come over to North America, has done his apprenticeship in the American Hockey League …
"He's just starting to enter the real good part of his career at 22, and we have his rights now for the next four years, which is important for us. We just think he adds an element to our team that we don't have."
Paajarvi, who has 26 goals and 58 points in 163 NHL games during three seasons, is in his hometown of Norrkoping, Sweden, and said he was shocked to learn of the trade but is excited to come to a team considered a Stanley Cup contender.
"I'm very surprised. I know how it is," Paajarvi told NHL.com via telephone. "I know it's business, but it came as a shock. ... I'm a little bit overwhelmed. It is what it is. All I can say is I had a great time and I can speak good of Edmonton, and coming to St. Louis, it's a new chapter. I'm actually excited to come to a contending team right away. I haven't been in the playoffs yet in three years, so hopefully I can contribute to the team and do what I need to do."
The Blues are dealing away Perron, a player who is 25 and has 84 goals and 198 points in 340 games after being taken with the 26th pick in the 2007 NHL Draft. But it became clear to Armstrong the Blues had a glut of players of Perron's stature (6-foot, 205), and with more talent on the way, the GM could afford to pull the trigger.
"With the numbers like we had with David, they were all a little bit different, but they all had a lot of the same attributes," he said. "With Ty Rattie coming and [Dmitrij] Jaskin, we felt that this was the right time to try and create some space for [Vladimir] Tarasenko and [Jaden] Schwartz for this year, but also understanding we believe in Rattie and Jaskin to take the next step also."
The Oilers are giving up on a player who is raw in talent and growing. Armstrong said the Blues have had their eye on Paajarvi for some time and feel he can blend with fellow Swedes Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen. Paajarvi and Berglund played together for Sweden at the World Championship.
"We saw them play over at the Worlds together and they had a dynamic team," Armstrong said. "They played in the gold-medal game, and those two players were very good. But this trade wasn't based on just his ability to play with one player. The way our team is situated right now, we have a number of players about the same size and the same stature. For us to bring in a 6-foot-3, 210-pound left winger that we think is just starting to understand his potential … he's 22 years old and one of the areas we wanted to try and improve on was our speed.
"It does free up some cap space for a future deal that we have to accomplish. I think it's a good deal for both teams, at least that's what [Oilers general manager] Craig [MacTavish] and I both hope. David's a dynamic offensive player and we think that Magnus is just entering the guts of his career now and we're looking forward to him being a Blue."
Paajarvi, who has yet to play a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, is eager to fit in anywhere; the Oilers haven't made the playoffs since 2006.
"When you say it like that, it only excites me even more," Paajarvi said. "I know the team is really big and strong and is a really good team. It's obviously exciting to come to a contending team right away.
"We haven't been there in Edmonton for three years. It's always sad to not come to the playoffs when you play the whole season. To come to a contending team, that's awesome. I really want to come to St. Louis and contribute and hopefully make the team even better."