With the signing of defenseman Calle Rosen earlier this week, the Blues are down to four unrestricted free agents to sign: Nick Leddy, Tyler Bozak, Ville Husso, and David Perron. Leddy more than likely will explore the open market, though having him around on the back end on the playoff run showed his value. Leddy’s re-signing would allow a struggling defenseman such as Marco Scandella, who has two years left on his $3,275,000 per year deal, to be a useful trade piece. Ditching Scandella brings down the overall impact of a Leddy extension on the team, so there’s still a possibility Leddy remains a Blue if the chips fall in the right spot.
Bozak still demonstrated his worth, and not just in game five against the Avalanche. A one year extension for the 36 year old would be easily doable if both he and the team would like for him to continue with the organization. Ville Husso’s outstanding regular season, which was a much larger sample size than his playoff work, will have teams throwing money at him on the open market. Doug Armstrong is well aware that this is going to happen:
“Ville and I had a conversation (Tuesday) morning,” Armstrong said. “He’s put himself in a very good spot; he had a great regular season. Obviously the playoffs were up and down for all of us. He was put into a really difficult situation coming into the Colorado series.
“I’m a Ville Husso fan. I told him I’d love him to come back, but also it’s a business for him and he’s put himself in a spot now where if he wants to test the market, I would understand it.”
Basically, if you read between those lines, it says Husso returning would be nice, but there’s Charlie Lindgren right there in the wings. If Binnington’s playoff performance is indicative of where he’ll be during the regular season next year, that means that Husso’s expendable. Let’s hope this is a quality gamble on Armstrong’s part.
The Blues have about $10 million in available cap space to sign Leddy, Husso, Bozak, and Perron. Armstrong’s cleared space where he needs to in the past, but this year it looks like he’s going to have to make some choices. That choice needs to be David Perron.
After a bit of a slow start this year, and with missing eleven games around Thanksgiving with concussion symptoms and several others shortly after his return due to COVID-19, if you were thinking that Perron’s output would be down it would be forgivable. However, in 67 games played this season, Perron put up 27 goals and 30 assists. In his career with the Blues specifically, these are career numbers. As far as his career goes, this year marks his second best goal total after the 2012-2013 season with the Edmonton Oilers.
Perron netted slightly more assists last season and in 2018-2019; his career year for assists came with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-2018 when he called 50. That year, his one with Vegas, is the season that encouraged Doug Armstrong to bring Perron back after leaving him exposed in the expansion draft.
Perron has never signed a contract with any team other than the St. Louis Blues. He has come back every opportunity that he has been given. He wants to stay.
“I’d love to be back,” Perron said. “The desire has been there for me last year, during the year, and right now. So it is what it is.”
When asked Tuesday if there was anything going on in terms of contract talks, Perron replied: “I don’t really want to talk about that publicly. So I’ll just kind of defer that.”
To his point, Doug Armstrong would also love to see Perron return.
“He fights ‘Father Time’ better than 95-99 percent of the NHL,” Armstrong said. “What he did this year was spectacular. Obviously the (concussion) injury he sustained in Chicago was nerve-wracking for everyone involved.
“But when he got back here, he showed what he can do down the stretch and in the playoffs. He’s a very good player. More importantly, he’s a better person. I’ve seen him grow and become a husband and a father. I’ve seen the influence he’s had on our younger players. They see the competitiveness that he has on a daily basis.
“He’s a true pro and been a very good St. Louis Blue and if we can make it work out, I’d love to.”
Free agency during the off-season contains more doublespeak than a session of Congress, so it’s nice to see both sides on the same page. Whether they continue to stay on that page remains to be seen. If Perron wants a long term deal at age 34, he may not be getting that. He’s an ageless wonder, but the clock has to start sometime and Armstrong understands that. Getting him to a reasonable three to four year contract, possibly one that’s front-loaded as opposed to than Perron’s current bargain of a four year, $16 million deal, is a doable goal. If Armstrong believes that a window is still open for the team - and clearly, he does - then keeping the current core together is important.
Many things factored into the Blues getting bounced from this postseason by the Colorado Avalanche, but underperformance from Perron isn’t one of those issues. His regular season play, especially that on the power play, was key to getting the Blues over the mid-year hump and into the postseason.
Getting Perron’s contract taken care of is clearly a top priority of both parties here. This is a deal that can - and should - get done.