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David Perron: Older, wiser, and better at hockey

NHL: San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

My oldest memory of St. Louis Blues winger David Perron came during his rookie season with the team. He was gliding into the offensive zone and whistled a pass towards the front of the net that Keith Tkachuk missed.

The goaltender scooped it up and the play was blown dead. Perron skated off and threw a mini tantrum. It was similar to a young child kicking his feet at Walmart because his parents didn’t buy him a toy. It was during that very moment that I thought Perron would die a young death, because Big Walt gave him a death stare from across the ice.

Perron used to be overly cocky, too fast for his own good, and took penalties like I take K-cups before noon. He was reckless, and didn’t mix well in Ken Hitchcock’s system. Perron tallied a pair of 20 goal seasons in his six years with St. Louis, but was deemed expendable after the 2012-13 season.

He was traded to Edmonton for Magnus Paajarvi and a draft pick that would eventually be processed for a young prospect named Ivan Barbashev. After a quality 20 goal season with the Oilers, Perron struggled until being paired with Ryan Getzlaf in Anaheim last season. He produced 20 points in 28 games, and regained his way. It could have been that burst of energy that led to Doug Armstrong handing Perron a two year/7.5 million dollar contract over the summer.

Blues fans reacted to the deal with distrust and collectively shrugged their shoulders. Was the Frenchman being brought in to play on a third line or share more minutes? His role was undetermined, but the minds were made up. It’s safe to say the 28 year old has turned some heads with his play.

Through 24 games, Perron has seven goals and nine assists. He’s added some late vital goals in close games, and helped win a shootout last weekend over Minnesota with a slick wrist shot between the pads of Devan Dubnyk. While he isn’t blowing up the leaderboard in the NHL, Perron is showing he worth every penny of that 3.7 million dollar annual wage. For example, Patrik Berglund, Jori Lehtera, and Jay Bouwmeester are making more to do little to nothing at all.

It’s not just the goals and points that have marked this reloaded Perron session a success. Perron is smarter with the puck and sharper with his ice time equity. He doesn’t take as many boneheaded penalties. He has collected 16 penalty minutes thus far, and that’s a far reach from the 90 he grabbed in 2013-14.

It’s wild to think that Perron is still two years away from 30 and is playing in his 10th season in the NHL. It requires a little more bourbon to think he is doing this under Hitchcock in his final season. It may not be the sexy redemption story that wins Oscars and cleans up at the box office, but Perron’s return has been quite pleasant so far.

Can he keep the good times rolling? Yes. He is playing on the Blues hottest line with Paul Stastny and Jaden Schwartz. Stastny is the perfect guy to utilize Perron’s talents. He needs a precise and dedicated center to feed his need to deke every single opponent on the ice. Schwartz provides the energy and the rugged finish in the corners. After wondering if Stastny could find another great linemate after losing Troy Brouwer, he’s found something even better in Perron.

Perron doesn’t need to write any award acceptance speeches yet. There have been a few games where he’s shown flashes his younger more frustrating self. You can’t wash it all away. However, more often than not and quite a bit lately, Perron has been a different player and something that could make Armstrong look like a genius. The rule of thumb for fans and general managers is simple. If fans found a move to be wrong and illogical and it eventually pays off, the GM is a momentary genius.

The Blues needed scoring depth. Perron has provided that depth. For the sake of shots for goals and the winning flavors of winter in St. Louis, let’s hope it continues. If not, french fries are on me.

Extra Attackers:

~Lehtera goes from being kicked off the Tarasenko lottery ticket passenger seat to logging fourth line minutes in practice. How the not so mighty have fallen.

~Alex Steen wasted little time in reminding people what he can do Thursday night. Three assists and all over the ice. He was like a Swedish cheetah out there. Whammy!

~Once again, it’s questionable if Tarasenko is human. Did you see that drop to the knee one timer from a narrow angle? Most players can’t make that in practice much less in front of 20,000 heads dressed to the nines.

~Jay Bouwmeester sucks and isn’t a good defenseman. He logs a lot of minutes against the top line, but that’s because Hitch gives him that role. That doesn’t mean he’s good at it. He’s a waste.

~Robert Bortuzzo boner is fully erect.

Thanks for reading and remember this. No matter what, buy more bourbon.

*In case you missed it in tonight’s St. Louis Game Time paper