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Frenchie to the Rescue: David Perron becoming the stud St. Louis needs

At last, Perron exceeding expectations...

NHL: Calgary Flames at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It’s quite possible for a player to be good without treading great waters, but expectations can hamper the process of analyzing talent. When it comes to David Perron, fans and writers alike have encountered problems in knowing quite what to expect.

12 years ago, Perron was drafted 26th overall in the NHL Draft, and he promptly put up 13 goals in his first season with the Blues. He would go on to score 15, 20, 21, and 28 in his next four seasons. In between, there was the Joe Thornton demolishing mid ice hit that leveled Perron’s career and the strike shortened season. Oh, and the last goal count came with Edmonton after St. Louis traded him.

In fact, Perron has been traded and moved around a lot. He was traded to Edmonton in the summer of 2013, and then the Oilers moved him to Pittsburgh in Jan. 2015. A little over a year later, the Penguins moved him to Anaheim. The Blues signed him nearly three years after trading him, but didn’t protect him the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft.

Before the 2018-19 season, St. Louis signed him for a third time. I begin to wonder if Perron ever really left. It’s that familiarity that welcomed his third return to the Lou with skeptical eyes. People wondered why Doug Armstrong was bringing him back a third time.

I’ll tell you why. Warts and all, Perron is money well spent.

Think about it. For the majority of his career, Perron has produced fairly well for the money paid to him. He’s topped 50 points seven different seasons, scoring 18 or more goals five different times. He’s never made more than five million dollars per season, falling in between two and $4.7 million over the course of his career after his first couple of seasons.

Again, expectations must be attached to Perron’s production. A first round pick in St. Louis was curse-worthy for a long time. Perron, unlike his fellow core pals Erik Johnson and Patrik Berglund, is still hanging around and scoring. These days, he’s graduated to stud status-and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Perron is on pace for his highest goal and point totals this season. Through 31 games, he has 12 goals and 29 points, which projects to 32 goals and 77 points over 82 games. You can add five game-winning goals to that total. Remember that crazy stretch of overtime games? Perron was the deciding factor in two of those games. He’s been exactly the kind of difference maker this team needed in the absence of Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, Sammy Blais, and now, Oskar Sundqvist.

What about the penalty minutes? The one true nag in Perron’s NHL career are the ill-advised penalties he takes, especially the offensive zone variety. So far, he’s kept the bad minors to a minimum, at least when it comes to what one can expect from the Frenchman. Perron’s 26 penalty minutes will equal out to around 55-60 when it’s all said and done, which falls in line with his career totals.

But keep in mind Perron is playing more than he has in the past. He’s averaging over 18 minutes this season, taking on some of the NHL’s best lines. He’s taking shots, but not hogging the puck or putting St. Louis in danger by over-extending opportunities like he has in the past. He’s brandishing a one-timer this season that’s worked well on the power play, a special teams unit that Perron owns four goals on.

Big moments bring out the best in players, or at least that’s what a team hopes for. Perron has been a journeyman goal scorer for the majority of his career. A player doesn’t get traded like he does without being labeled a question mark. Whether it was the Blues or the Golden Knights, Perron has been somewhat of a disappointment in most fans’ eyes. When you look back at his career in retrospect, though, that label doesn’t really fit. Salary to production, he’s been reliable.

It’s all about meeting expectations. Luckily for the Blues this season, Perron is exceeding them. He hasn’t thrown the team on his back per se, but he’s become something most thought wasn’t possible: A game-changer. More importantly, a game-changer for more than a two week period.

Will it last? History is divided, but I am cautiously optimistic. If the Blues want to get back to the Stanley Cup Final-especially with the mounting injury list-they will need premium Perron to stick around.

Thanks for reading.