EDMONTON – New general manager. New coach. New opportunity for David Perron.
The Oilers acquired the 25-year-old winger from the St. Louis Blues on July 10 in exchange for Magnus Paajarvi and a 2014 draft pick, and this week he made his first visit to Edmonton as a member of his new squad. He toured Rexall Place and his new locker room on Wednesday before meeting with the media and making a special appearance at Oilers Hockey School in St. Albert on Thursday.
Perron, selected 26th overall by St. Louis in 2007, made the jump from the QMJHL to the NHL for the 2007-08 season and had been with the Blues every year since. The team made the playoffs three of his six seasons, but Perron said their playing style didn't mesh with his game as much as he would have liked. He is now embracing the opportunity to play for the young, offensively-gifted Oilers and their new-look hockey staff.
"When I heard Edmonton, the first thing I thought of was all the young guys here and all the talent up front, so I got really excited thinking about playing with these guys," Perron said. "This team still has some steps to do, but at the same time you look at the group in place and the core players, and you know there are going to be some exciting years ahead."
Perron put up 83 points in 70 games during his lone season with Lewiston in the QMJHL and then scored 189 points in 340 regular season games with the Blues. He said he looks forward to being one of many main offensive contributors in Edmonton.
"The biggest thing is the pressure you put on yourself to perform, so it's nice to be coming into a situation with that many play-makers and scorers," Perron said. "You can concentrate on your game more and just try to get some points up on the board, playing the right way."
Other than Sam Gagner, whom he played with at the 2006 Canada-Russia Challenge, Perron hasn't met any of his new teammates in person yet. However, he has started interacting with them – and legions of Oilers fans as well – via social media, tweeting with fellow wingers Ryan Jones and Taylor Hall.
"I'll be one of the older guys now on the forward side," he laughed. "It's going to be fun. I'm just trying to come in and fit in and add on to what they have in the room."
In addition to getting to know his teammates, Perron spent 25 minutes on the phone with Head Coach Dallas Eakins last week, learning more about his new bench boss' values.
"We talked about style of play and fitness testing at camp, which he looks to be pretty big on," Perron said. "It's going to be a tough couple of days to start the camp, but I agree with it. We need to see where guys are at. We're going to play with a lot of pace to our game."
As most players, staff members and fans alike experience when they enter the Oilers locker room at Rexall Place for the first time, Perron was admittedly wide-eyed during his tour on Wednesday.
"Normally I'd be walking in as a visitor, and now I'm able to go into the room and see the five Stanley Cups (in the large trophy case) walking in," he said. "There's room for an extra one in the case, so hopefully we get to that at some point."
Perron is heading back home to Sherbooke, Quebec, following his visit to Edmonton, and will continue training there before returning to Alberta's capital in late August to find a place to live for the season. He noted he's enjoying the direct flights from Montreal to Edmonton, rather than having to make multiple connections to get to St. Louis in previous years.
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