Fire sale officially on, as Oilers deal Perron
DENVER — If there was any doubt as to the Edmonton Oilers’ intentions heading into June’s National Hockey League entry draft, it was cleared up on Friday when David Perron was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a first-round pick in 2015 as well as two-way forward Rob Klinkhammer.
For Perron, it’s a chance to go from the worst team in the Western Conference to the playoff-bound Penguins. Instead of playing with centres Leon Draisaitl and Derek Roy, he’ll be playing with NHL superstars Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
Acquired in an off- season trade in July 2013 with the St. Louis Blues for Magnus Paajarvi, Perron netted a teamhigh 28 goals last season, then never grumbled this winter when he was shuttled from one line to another.
For the Oilers, it’s official that the “fire sale” is on.
“It’s a wake-up call in a sense, but it’s also going to make it harder for us,” said Oilers winger Taylor Hall. “(Perron) was such a good player. It just means we have to band together even more and pick up our game like we have been doing for the most part.”
“It’s tough,” said fourth-line forward Matt Hendricks, who like Hall, spoke of Perron’s affable presence in the room as well as his on-ice work. “I could give you all the clichés, but it’s a reflection of the players in this room who haven’t got the job done.
“We’re losing a veteran player who is a producer for us in terms of points. He played a role, he had a great niche on this team.”
General manager Craig MacTavish said there had been interest in Perron from a number of teams, but in the end, the Penguins offered what he felt was a fair price based on some of the conversations he had with other teams.
“The ideal get would have been somebody late in their entry-level contract, but that wasn’t presented,” MacTavish said. “We got the pick, and we will have the option of using it as an asset down the road.
“Based on the position we’re in, moves are inevitable. It’s not a pleasant position to be in but, in the end, we have to move forward. We want to accumulate some assets.”
The draft is a deep one, with Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel headlining the class of 2015, and currently, the Oilers have two first-round picks as well as an early selection in the second.
“It’s always hard leaving a place when you’re emotionally involved, no matter how tough the situation was here,” said Perron, who leaves with five goals and 14 assists. “Once you look past that, there are not many better opportunities. I’m really, really excited about that.
“It’s a new chapter for me and a chance to hopefully go really deep into the playoffs. The Oilers will find their way out eventually ... but I won’t be a part of it. Hopefully, I’m part of something special in Pittsburgh.
“The first few years you’re in the league, you’re just happy to be in the NHL, trying to get more ice time and opportunities, but after a few years, you just want to win.”
Coach Todd Nelson said in his short time on the bench, he quickly grew to appreciate Perron’s work ethic and willingness to go to the gritty areas.