ANAHEIM – Anaheim Ducks forward David Perron may have been mislabeled to a degree.
For a long time, coaches saw his skating and thought he was the type of player who could push the pace offensively.
And when Perron struggled in a recent situation, playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, there were questions as to why he couldn’t click with some of the game’s top offensive forces such as Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Instead, Perron needed a pivot who was a little less ‘straight ahead’ in his mentality. Throughout his career, Perron has meshed better with players who were more ‘side-to-side’ with how they played the game – guys who played the puck low and used their bodies to create scoring chances around the boards.
In essence, he needed Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf.
Since Perron was dealt to Anaheim as part of a package for winger Carl Hagelin, he and Getzlaf have picked up their scoring as linemates, helping the Ducks from a spot out of the playoffs to challenging for the Pacific Division lead.
Perron has 17 points in 20 games since the deal. Getzlaf has 24 points in 19 games since the trade. Before then, Getzlaf had 27 points in 39 games. With the Penguins, Perron had just 38 points in 86 games played over parts of two seasons.
According to War on Ice, before the Perron trade, Getzlaf’s CF% Rel was plus-3.3. Since the deal it’s a plus-9.4, meaning his line holds onto the puck to a higher degree than the rest of the team than before the trade.
“He’s done some great things and I remember talking to him and he said people thought he had the reputation of being an up-and-down forward with lots of speed, but he said he prefers to play down low and protect the puck,” Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said. “I think that’s why they’ve gained some chemistry and why he’s playing so well so much.”
Perron noted that despite Crosby’s and Malkin’s scoring talent, he just didn’t click with them because of how they’ve played.
“I’ve played with some really good players. I’ve been fortunate. It’s awesome to play with guys like (Sidney Crosby) and (Evgeni Malkin),” Perron said. “For them, the game is more about full ice speed and just kind of supporting the puck a little bit differently than the way Getzy plays.”
The trade for Perron came at a crucial time for Anaheim. The Ducks were 19-17-7. They had been out of the playoffs for most of the season, and had started to play a bit better. But the team hadn’t gone on a long winning streak. Their longest stretch of victories up to that point was four games, which was in November. They were a preseason Stanley Cup pick that had teetered on the brink of mediocrity all year.
Since that deal they’ve vaulted into the playoff picture, going 17-2-1.
From the moment Perron arrived in Anaheim, he’s commented on how the group stayed steady despite their disappointing start. He maintained this type of character has been appealing to him so far this year.
“I was excited. Just getting a new challenge, new opportunity and getting to a team that really impressed me with the tough start they had and then they find a way to put themselves in (the playoffs). When I got here, we were just outside the playoffs and now, not too long after, we’re pretty much fighting with the Kings for first place,” Perron said. “It’s a good step for us.”
Since Perron has arrived, coach Bruce Boudreau has resisted the urge to shift around his team’s lines, which is a hallmark, and at times an Achilles heel, of him as a coach. When the team is winning, there’s no reason to mess around and the Ducks now have three solid scoring lines. Along with Getzlaf’s group, the Ducks can roll a line featuring Ryan Kesler at center or a trio with Rickard Rakell centering Corey Perry.
“He’s a very skilled player that plays on the inside. He’s not a perimeter guy and Getzlaf is a right-handed passer and David plays the left side, so it’s easy to find him,” Boudreau said. “He doesn’t have to turn and search and it’s really allowed us to move (Rakell and Perry) together and have more of a balanced score-sheet.”
Before the trade to the Ducks, Perron seemed to have little value heading into unrestricted free agency. But after the deal, he’s showed some of the skill that helped him score 28 goals in 2013-14 with the Edmonton Oilers and 42 points in 57 games with the St. Louis Blues in 2011-12. Perron is in the final season of a four-year $15.25 million deal.
As of now, Perron is just enjoying playing with Getzlaf, producing, and living in Newport Beach with his family. He’ll wait until the offseason to really think about his contract.
“I am UFA but I think at this point I want to have success with this team and see where it goes,” Perron said.
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