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NHL Free Agency 2018: David Perron — Should he stay or should he go?

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Perron posted a career-best 66 points in the regular season but scored just one goal in the playoffs.

San Jose Sharks v Vegas Golden Knights - Game Five Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After recording 50 assists and 66 points with the Golden Knights in year one, David Perron needs no introduction. He’s been one of the faces of the franchise throughout the last year, as well as a frequent contributor on the scoreboard.

Rumors surrounding Perron’s future in Vegas have been swirling for months, especially since the end of the season. It’s believed he values term over average annual value, and he earned it with a career year. But there are still risks.

Strengths

Perron’s greatest strength is his passing ability. He’s hit at least 20 assists in eight out of nine seasons with at least 50 games played. He’s hit 40 points six times, and was on pace to hit 42 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. He set a 0.71 assists-per-game pace this season. Of his 50 assists, 34 were primary. That’s a fantastic playmaker.

He’s also been solid in terms of turnovers, taking the puck away more often than giving it up in 10 out of his 11 NHL seasons. This season, that was to the tune of 40 takeaways to 25 giveaways (at 5-on-5).

Perron was also excellent on the penalty kill. He played just 15 minutes in the regular season, and while the team got shelled (as it naturally would), the Knights only allowed one power-play goal against with Perron on the ice. One goal in 15 minutes equates to roughly 7.5 killed penalties with Perron on the ice. He probably should have played more minutes on the PK.

In the regular season, the second line was also better with Perron on the ice. At 5-on-5, James Neal and Erik Haula had 49.39 percent Corsi, 48.28 percent shot share, 29.41 percent goal share, 50 percent scoring chance share and 46.77 percent high-danger share without Perron.

With Perron, those numbers go to 52.67 percent Corsi, 51.43 percent shot share, 51.92 percent goal share, 51.21 percent scoring chance share and 47.44 high-danger share. That’s a significant increase, and it’s very telling about the presence of Perron in the middle six, at least in the regular season.

Outside of the first line and the three defensemen who played on the first pairing at one point or another (Nate Schmidt, Luca Sbisa, Brayden McNabb), Perron played against the toughest competition. He did very well against that competition (49.92 Corsi for when rated by competition). A player who can play against great skill and still find a way to produce is something every team could use.

Weaknesses

Perron does not play well in the playoffs. His collapse this postseason should not have been shocking, but it still hurt. His nine points in 15 playoff games were the most points he’s ever put up in the postseason, and it was the first time he exceeded five points. Perron only has four playoff goals in 57 games, and even his goal this season was a result of a play made by Tomas Tatar.

In the playoffs, the second line was much better without Perron (to the tune of Neal and Haula having a 25 percent high-danger share with Perron, 55.56 percent without), and Perron’s on-ice shot share (46.78 percent) and high-danger share (40 percent) fell in the playoffs.

Not that they were high to begin with. During the season, Perron had a 49.21 percent Corsi, 48.42 percent shot share, 47.92 percent goal share, 49.33 percent scoring chance share and 42.72 percent high-danger share.

Perron’s shot generation is also lacking. He only produced 1.79 shots per game last season, which isn’t far off from his career average of 2.02. That isn’t good enough, and it’s why Perron only produced 16 goals with a good shooting percentage (12.8 percent).

That’s also why, in the regular season, Perron only had one power-play goal. The Golden Knights had 27 goals with Perron on the ice on the man advantage, and four against.

There’s also the risk of Perron’s age, especially if he’s given a long-term contract. Perron, now 30, could age well as a natural passer, but he’s also physical. He’s put up more than 100 hits four times in his career (including last season), and he has done so in four of the last five years. That type of play does not allow a player to age gracefully.

Fit with the Golden Knights

Obviously, it’s not difficult to imagine Perron in Vegas.

He’s still that passer that put up 50 assists, and he has the ability to score, just not as often. He’s not the best skater on the team, but he gets up and down the ice fine and plays well in a defensive role and on the penalty kill.

His possession metrics aren’t as appealing as they could be, either. Still, Perron could be considered a fan favorite, and his production was remarkable. Sixty-six points in 70 games is a hard feat to accomplish.

Skating next to a goal scorer with potential like Alex Tuch and a center who can help set up plays and also finish them (perhaps Haula or Paul Stastny), Perron would have a chance to repeat that output, though his playoff performance is a concern, especially when considering a long-term extension.

Something along the lines of a three- or four-year deal with a cap hit of around $4 million would be a deal worth making with Perron. Otherwise, there are other wingers available this offseason.