David Perron was thrilled to be acquired by the Pens at the beginning of the calendar year, and the team was excited to have him as the skilled young winger is a top-six talent who had a career year with Edmonton in 2013-14 – netting a personal-best 28 goals with the Oilers.
And initially, the trade was a big boost for Perron, who turned 27 on May 28. And it showed in his play, as Perron buried a pass from linemate Sidney Crosby in his Pens debut on Jan. 3 against his hometown Canadiens and went on a hot streak from there – recording five goals in his first six games.
But after that early tear, Perron was the first to admit that his play faded after that primarily for injury-related reasons that caught up to him as the season progressed.
“When I got traded here, it was a big boost,” Perron said. “I was really excited and still am extremely excited to be here. I think we could tell with the way it started for me personally. But then I kind of faded off a little bit, so I really need a big summer of training to get back to the level I think I can be.”
THE NUMBERS: After scoring just five goals in his first 38 games of the season with Edmonton, Perron started out incredibly hot with Pittsburgh – producing that same amount in his first six games.
However, he slowed down the stretch and in the playoffs – going goalless in his last 12 regular-season games and all five postseason games.
Overall, Perron – who averaged 2:44 power-play minutes finished with 17 goals, 24 assists and 41 points in 81 games combined between his two teams.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Perron is an exciting combination of skill and grit. While he has incredible hands and creativity that allow him to dangle with the puck and put it in the net, Perron also plays with an edge and takes pride in his compete level. It also helps that he’s a righthanded shot, something that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who are both lefties, love about him.
The problem for Perron this year was that his body just couldn’t keep up with his mind. He came into the season behind in his conditioning as he couldn’t start training until August because of a hip injury that took a while to rehab, and from there was just never able to catch up and get to the level he needed to perform at the best of his abilities.
While joining the Penguins gave him a boost initially, Perron is the first to admit he fell back to where he started after that. He struggled to execute the plays he wanted to make, which in turn, affected his confidence and became a sort of cycle. Sustaining a rib injury in the regular-season finale at Buffalo didn’t help either, as it affected his shooting and the way he battled in the corners.
“When you start training in August, it’s a catch-up game the whole year,” Perron said. “I felt like I was working hard doing all the right things, but when you don’t get the bounces the confidence can kind of fade quick when you know you’re not maybe at the level that you want to be or could be.”
LOOKING AHEAD: The three-time 20-goal scorer showed glimpses of what he is capable of during his time with the Pens last season. Now it’s just a matter of doing it consistently, and Perron knows in order to do that he needs to have a big summer of training to get back into peak form.
“I think that I have another level in conditioning and I think my speed will show when you’re at that point,” he said. “That’s on me to have a really good summer and come back next year and do extremely well.”
That paired with the benefit of going through a full training camp with Pittsburgh – something he didn’t get because of the trade – means that this year, Perron could get back to the goal-scoring form he displayed the season before last with Edmonton.