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All-Star

Perron finds right fit with Blues, earns spot in All-Star Game

Forward with 21 goals receives first-time honor in 13th NHL season

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

ST. LOUIS -- David Perron's phone rang the night of Jan. 10, and it was St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong calling.

Uh-oh.

"I was hoping I wasn't getting traded," Perron said.

Perron laughed. He knew the call meant he was headed to the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game, not another team.

But it has been a long journey for the forward, who will appear in the NHL All-Star Game for the first time at age 31, in his 13th season, after 828 regular-season games with five teams.

This is his third tour with the Blues, who selected him in the first round (No. 26) of the 2007 NHL Draft, traded him to the Edmonton Oilers on July 10, 2013, signed him as a free agent July 1, 2016, exposed him in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft and lost him to the Vegas Golden Knights before signing him again as a free agent July 1, 2018.

 

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He won the Stanley Cup for the first time with St. Louis last season. After he didn't make the initial Central Division roster Dec. 30, fans voted him for the 2020 NHL All-Star Last Men In presented by adidas. He ended up joining four fellow Blues: coach Craig Berube, goalie Jordan Binnington, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and center Ryan O'Reilly.

The game will be at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday (8 p.m. ET.; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"You don't know if you're going to get many opportunities," Perron said. "You always watched the All-Star Game as a kid, as a hockey fan. You see the best players play each other. We all know that the intensity is not the same, but it's still pretty cool to be named there one time."

Perron did not need to come to St. Louis a third time. He had other options in free agency at that point, and another player might not have considered the Blues after they exposed him in the expansion draft.

But Perron learned from experience.

He scored 28 goals for the Oilers in 2013-14, his NHL career high, but they finished 28th in the NHL. When they traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 2, 2015, he thought playing with centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin would be the best opportunity of his career, only to find they didn't click.

The Penguins traded him to the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 16, 2016. He played with center Ryan Getzlaf, excelled in the Ducks' heavy, down-low style and had 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 28 games.

"From then on, I knew how important the fit was," Perron said.

Video: STL@COL: Perron wires home wrist shot for PPG

Vegas turned out to be a great fit. He got an opportunity to play in more situations, and set NHL career highs with 50 assists and 66 points in 70 games. The Golden Knights went to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.

"That really gave me confidence, knowing that I could do it," Perron said.

St. Louis turned out to be an even better fit than it was the first two times.

Berube became coach Nov. 19, 2018 and put Perron in positions to succeed -- first power play, 5-on-3, 4-on-4, overtime.

"I think (it was) just making him understand how important he is for us and letting him know that, using him the way we used him starting last year," Berube said. "I think he's just increased his confidence, for sure."

Perron paired with O'Reilly, who wins face-offs, plays well defensively and makes deft passes, creating more puck possession, offensive-zone time and opportunities to score.

"The chemistry with O'Reilly right now, it's special, and I'm trying not to lose it," Perron said.

Perron had 46 points (23 goals, 23 assists) in 57 games last season, then 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 26 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This season, he has 49 points (21 goals, 28 assists) in 49 games, on pace for NHL career highs in goals (35) and points (82). He leads the League in game-winning goals (eight) and overtime goals (four) for a team tied with the Boston Bruins for second in the League, three points behind the Washington Capitals.

"He is a huge reason why we are in this position we are now," O'Reilly said. "The amount of not just points he's put up, but the significant goals he's contributed to … The overtime goals to get us these wins, I think, are monumental."

Asked for his memories of watching the All-Star Game as a kid, the first thing Perron mentioned was Owen Nolan calling his shot. That was 1997, when Perron was 8 and living in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and Nolan was playing for the San Jose Sharks at what was then San Jose Arena. Nolan put on a show for his home fans. Now Perron gets that chance.

"It was a different format," Perron said. "But I think the cool thing now, the way they do it with the 3-on-3 [tournament], if you win the first game, you might as well go for it, and you see the intensity really pick up in that final. And yeah, like, just seeing the best players play each other, and kind of getting introduced, the skill competition and so many things ... I don't know. Winning the Cup is definitely the biggest dream that you got, but that one's another one, for sure."

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