If you’ve been paying attention to Gone Puck Wild lately, and shame on you if you haven’t, then you know school has begun as Wild fans brush up on their knowledge of the new teams within Minnesota’s division. This week, that new team just so happens to be the St. Louis Blues. Going through Sunday, we’ll break down the Blues’ major additions and subtractions, strengths and weaknesses, prospect pool, 2013 draft class and team outlook.
Yesterday, we took a look at the new additions in the River City and how they might be put to use in the lineup. Today, we discuss the players whose departure may have opened up those spots in the lineup.
The biggest change in the lineup is the absence of left winger David Perron. Drafted 26th overall in 2007, the 6’0″ 205-pound winger is extremely talented and dangerous when healthy. Unfortunately, a problem with injuries has hampered his career. Perron would step into the Blues’ lineup immediately, scoring 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points and a plus-16 rating in 62 games in 2007-08. He then followed that with his best season to date, scoring 15 goals and 35 assists for 50 points and a plus-13 rating in 81 games.
Perron would play the next full season, but then spent part, if not most of each of the next two seasons with a concussion. Last season, Perron did play all 48 games, scoring 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points and an even plus-minus rating. In 340 career NHL games, he has scored 84 goals, 19 on the man advantage, and 114 assists for 198 points and a plus-45 rating.
There’s no question St. Louis gave up a tremendously talented player and a quality guy. But, to receive quality, you have to give quality. Paajarvi needed a change of scenery, and St. Louis needed a guy with the potential to break a game open and put up some goals. He’s also younger than Perron, and the Oilers needed an “older” guy to help Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov win now. It was a win-win situation.
In addition to the Perron trade, the Blues would also trade defenseman Kris Russell to Calgary for a future fifth-round draft selection. In free agency, they lost goaltender Mike McKenna to Columbus. The fact that you’re now wondering to yourself, “Who’s Mike McKenna?” speaks as to how important he was to the future of the franchise. A 2002 sixth round selection of the Nashville Predators, McKenna has played just 17 games in the league between Tampa Bay and New Jersey, notching a 4-9-1 record, 3.49 goals against average and .887 save percentage.
Among UFAs not re-signed by St. Louis, or by any other team for that matter, are forwards Jamie Langenbrunner, Andy McDonald (retired), Scott Nichol, T.J. Hensick and Andrew Murray, and defenseman Jeff Woywitka.
Not a bad roster turnaround. Sure, Perron is gone, but he left in a legitimate hockey trade, meaning St. Louis got a player in return that can jump right into his spot in the lineup and play. It’ll be interesting to see how St. Louis and Edmonton have benefitted from this transaction as the season gets into full swing.