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David Perron back to where it all began

Drafted by St. Louis in 2007, forward returns to Blues after three seasons away

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Nine years after David Perron's NHL career began with the St. Louis Blues, he has come full circle.

After arriving in St. Louis on Sept. 13 in preparation for the season, Perron, 28, felt right at home.

"It's so natural to be here right now," Perron said. "I was driving around, it feels like I never left. At the same time, I'm a different person than I was. I'm older and I think you mature as a person. It feels good to be here."

Perron signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, completing a circle that included stops with the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks, where Perron revived his career with 20 points in 28 regular-season games down the stretch last season. 

Perron, who was selected by the Blues in the first round (No. 26) of the 2007 NHL Draft when he was 19 years old, returns as a family man with a wife, Vanessa, and a 14-month-old son Mason, and not to mention, experience.

It's been a great learning curve for Perron, but the sting of being traded to the Oilers for Magnus Paajarvi, a 2014 second-round pick (Ivan Barbashev) and a 2015 fourth-round pick (Adam Musil) on July 10, 2013 has eased now that he's returned.

Video: LAK@ANA: Perron nets turnover for two-goal lead

"The first year in Edmonton ... it was tough to get traded," Perron said. "I put in a lot of work to win here. The business side happened, you get traded. You take it personal a little bit. It's hard to get traded from a team you believe in so much for many years."

Perron went to Edmonton, a team in rebuilding mode playing a lot of younger players, and had a strong first season with NHL career-highs in goals (28) and points (57) playing with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and at times, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Then things started to change, and Perron was flummoxed.

"I think I had a good (first year in Edmonton) and then the next year, they have so many of the young guys and they always wanted to win with their guys and that's fine," Perron said. "That's not something I fully believed in. I think you win with whoever's going to make you win. I think at times, the marketing side of things kind of took over there. At times, I was playing with Taylor Hall and we were producing a lot and then maybe the coach [Dallas Eakins] would come and say, 'We want those three guys together because next year, that's how it's going to be.' 

"What else can you do? It's fine. To me, it's about winning hockey games and we were during that stretch. Why change things up? As a player, you're taught to do what you're told and that's what I did."

Perron's numbers dipped to five goals and 14 assists in 38 games, and he was traded to the Penguins for a first-round pick in 2015 and center Rob Klinkhammer with the hope that Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin could get him back to form.

Video: ANA@EDM: Puck trickles in for Perron to provide lead

It was a nice ending to the 2014-15 season for Perron, who finished with 12 goals and 10 assists in 43 games, but then he had four goals and 12 assists in 43 games to begin last season before getting traded again, this time to the Ducks along with defenseman Adam Clendening for forward Carl Hagelin.

Perron instantly fit in with the Ducks, a big, heavy, physical team that suits his style of play, and he credited playing with center Ryan Getzlaf for his revival.

"When I moved on to Anaheim, I got to play with Ryan Getzlaf, who really is going to make you feel good with the puck," Perron said. "There were times I felt like I was always looking to give him the puck because he's such a good player. There would be times where he'd say, 'Hey bud, you've got to keep the puck. I got enough. Keep it. You're doing well.' It really instills confidence in you. He's pushing confidence in you. You feel like you're starting to have an impact every night. That's where it went and really saved my season last year in a way."

When Perron entered free agency, the natural fits for the Sherbrooke, Quebec native were the Blues, Ducks and Montreal Canadiens. The chance to play for the Canadiens would have been a "dream," Perron said. 

But St. Louis was home away from home, and the Blues became interested again.

"Like all players, David's matured," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "... I know when I talked to him, he was very excited about the opportunity to come back to St. Louis. He still has a warm spot for the fans and the city. It was nice to hear the excitement in David's voice about returning to the city and the team that drafted him."

Video: 30 in 30: St. Louis Blues 2016-17 season preview

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was on board.

"His game has matured, having a family now has really helped him," Hitchcock said. "Even during the [Stanley Cup Playoffs], I told Doug that. I said, 'You ought to watch out for this guy because he looks like he's really got a full package going right now.'"

So when the call came from Armstrong, it was a no-brainer for Perron.

"When I first got the call, I was extremely excited, but you don't know what the offers are going to be," Perron said. "I had good offers from different teams, but you narrow it down to the teams close to winning and I think the Blues are right there, so of course they were on my list of where I wanted to go.

"It's great to be back home."

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