Having played for five teams in the National Hockey League (NHL), David Perron always returned with the St. Louis Blues when he was a free agent. In all likelihood, it will still be there next fall.
The 34-year-old Quebecer is on his third stay with the Missouri organization. He was traded once by the team in 2013, then the Vegas Golden Knights selected him in the expansion draft in 2017. But each time he came back. His five contracts in the NHL, he signed them all with the Blues.
While he will enjoy full autonomy in a few weeks, Perron has not hidden his game: he wants to continue the adventure in St. Louis.
“Just for our children, they are in school, they love the city like me, he argued on Tuesday during the team's end-of-season report. That's one thing, just like playing with Ryan O'Reilly and the rest of the band, that I would love to continue. I feel like I've built myself here as a player over the years and I want that to continue."
Perron won't be the only file on general manager Doug Armstrong's table this summer, but he won't be overwhelmed with work. Tyler Bozak is the only other forward without a contract, while defensemen Niko Mikkola, Scott Perunovich, Nick Leddy and Calle Rosen as well as goaltender Ville Husso could also become free agents.
He notably had good words for Perron, whom he wishes to see back.
“I feel like I've been here for a long time and [Perron] is ahead of me, launched the DG. He's a hell of a player. He thwarts old age better than 95-99% of NHL players. What he did this year was spectacular. If we can find common ground, I would like to bring him back.”
Perron had 27 goals and 57 points in 67 regular season games before hitting the target nine times in 12 playoff games. He also had four assists.
O'Reilly still has a year left on his contract, but he could soon start discussions for a contract extension. Until then, the captain of the Blues strongly hopes that Perron will be back.
"We want to keep this group together and he's such a big part of it," O'Reilly said. Yes, the season has just ended, and I'm sure things will improve as we go along, but he plays a big part in all of this and I think we both want to be here."
“A God-given opportunity”
Admitting to having thrown a bottle of water in the direction of Nazem Kadri, Jordan Binnington however indicated that he did not believe that the Colorado Avalanche forward had injured him intentionally.
The St. Louis Blues goaltender has opened up on the incident with Kadri that injured his knee and forced him to miss the final three games of the second-round series between the two teams on Tuesday during his end of season report. The Avalanche triumphed in six games and will face the Edmonton Oilers in the Western final.
The incident happened in the first half. As Kadri tried to collect a loose puck in the slot, a contact with defender Calle Rosen caused the two players to fall on the goalkeeper. The latter also confirmed on Tuesday that he will not need an operation to recover.
"I went to have my knee checked mid-game," Binnington recalled of the night in question. I was coming back to the arena and the game had just ended. I was walking down the hall and couldn't find a recycling bin. Just before entering the locker room, I saw him doing an interview. He was laughing, and I was there with a splint limping.
“I just felt like it was a God-given opportunity. I could be quiet and go into the locker room, or I could say something and force him to look me in the eye so he would understand what was going on, to think. Yeah, I threw away the empty bottle. (...) I mean, that's how it is. It's hockey and it's a competitive game. That's all."
Looking back, however, Binnington is well aware that this was probably an unavoidable incident.
“It's a physical sport. I think it's the playoffs and he went to the net, that's how it goes. I don't think he was trying to [hurt me] intentionally."
After a tough season in which he went 18-14-4 with a .901 save percentage, Binnington rebounded well in the playoffs with a .949 save percentage in six outings.