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Oilers' Perron thankful for past, excited for future

by Louie Korac / Edmonton Oilers
Photo by Getty Images

When the initial shock of being traded wore off for David Perron, the new left wing of the Edmonton Oilers couldn't help but speak highly of his skilled teammates that the Sherbrooke, Quebec, native feels will give him a smooth transition.

Perron initially heard the rumors his name was on the trade market around the 2013 NHL Draft, and was hoping in the end none of them would come to fruition.

But Perron's six years with the St. Louis Blues ended Wednesday with his trade to the Oilers for Magnus Paajarvi and a 2014 second-round draft pick.

Perron, 25, was part of a core group the Blues put together in the immediate years following the 2004-05 lockout, one that was supposed to bring the franchise from the bottom of the NHL to its first Stanley Cup with gradual progression. But he won't get the opportunity to see that vision through and now will go to an organization that seems to suit his style more so than St. Louis.

Perron, the 26th pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, leaves the Blues with 198 career points in 340 games. He got the word from general manager Doug Armstrong that he was being traded, and it was only then that reality sank in that he was no longer a member of the Blues.

But the thought of playing with forwards Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and the rest of the Oilers gave Perron a sense of optimism moving forward.

"It's tough to leave a nice situation like I had in St. Louis," Perron told via telephone Wednesday night. "I have been growing up with the same guys for five or six years. The team's going in the right direction. It's always tough to go, but as soon as I heard the destination would be the Edmonton Oilers, I knew right away it would be a nice fit for me and a place where I could really take the next step as an offensive guy. You look at their roster of top-six guys, it's pretty incredible. They're young players, but it almost seems like they're superstars in the League already. It's going to be nice going in and try to do what I can to help them, and hopefully we can all start a new process in growing up together."

David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund, Alex Pietrangelo, and Perron, to name a few, were the ones talked about as the next generation of players who would help the Blues ascend to prominence. The Blues have taken steps toward their goal but have been knocked out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of the past two years by the Los Angeles Kings after very successful regular seasons.

"It's always tough," Perron said. "The fans definitely deserved the best in St. Louis. They've been supporting a team in St. Louis really well -- just being so respectful of the players on and off the ice. I think it starts with a first-class organization starting from the top. Whenever [former general manager] Larry Pleau drafted me with Jarmo [Kekalainen] and JD [John Davidson] and now it's [Armstrong's] team, everyone has been so supportive and it goes to the media people and fans.

"… It's tough to get the call. I know [Armstrong] liked me a lot as a person. I could feel it. You can feel when someone likes you a lot. He's that type of person. He's really passionate about this team. I'm sure it was a tough transaction for him. I wish the Blues success. It's the business side of things. … I loved my six years in St. Louis. It was unbelievable. Hopefully I'll have the next six and more with the Oilers."

Perron's second season in St. Louis was his high-point mark with 50 in 2008-09, and he set a career-high in goals with 21 in 2011-12 during Ken Hitchcock's first season as coach. But his career was interrupted by a concussion early in 2010 that forced Perron to miss the last 72 games of that season and the first 25 in 2011. He came back and had 42 points in 57 games, but dropped to 10 goals and 25 points in 48 games last season.

There were questions whether he fell out of favor with Hitchcock and couldn't sustain the level of play needed to succeed with the coach.

"I don't believe there was an issue there," Armstrong said. "His first year back from a concussion, he scored very well under Ken's system. Last year, he didn't produce offensively the way he did before. That seemed to be a universal thing with our group at certain times last year.

"I think that David is a dynamic player and he has an unbelievable skillset that sometimes takes a little time getting used to playing with. Not for a coach, but for his teammates to get used to his nuances. I think David's going to fit into any system. He's a consummate professional and he wants to be a good player."

Perron will take his skills to the Oilers, who feature several young players who use a more run-and-gun style that excites the team's new member.

"I think St. Louis tried to play like the L.A. Kings," Perron said. "I think the Edmonton Oilers are trying to play like the Chicago Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings. It's two winning ways of playing. It's almost like two different styles of hockey.

"I think Edmonton's style of play might fit me a little better. That's why I'm really looking forward to that situation. I gave my all in St. Louis. I was hoping for better success in the playoffs as a team last year and the year before, but it didn't work out."

Perron won't soon forget the fans of St. Louis and is already talking about his return.

"They really touched me a lot," Perron said. "That's the main reason I joined Twitter (@DP_57), so that people that enjoy my style of play, my personality and all of that feel connected to me and I can still connect with them. It was always fun.

"I'm just hoping when I come back to St. Louis, even though they'll want to see the Blues win the game, hopefully they'll still have a little bit of support for me in their hearts. I'll always have a special place for St. Louis myself. It's a city that gave me a chance to play in this League and really made me grow as a person, as a young adult now. I feel like I'm ready to take the next step in my career. I can only thank them for all they've done."

Author: Louie Korac | Correspondent

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