Ivan Barbashev

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Blues’ Perron just keeps finding ways to score, and persevere

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Call David Perron the NHL’s answer to Mystique, a scoring shapeshifter who finds a way to produce even when it seems like every break is going against him.

People might not think of Perron when they ponder the most resilient scorers in the NHL, but maybe they should. The 31-year-old is off to a hot start with the St. Louis Blues this season, generating three goals and two assists for five points in four games.

Maybe he might even play well enough to stay a while?

If you want to capture Perron’s zig-zagging NHL path, consider this note from The Athletic’s Scott Burnside in a May article (sub required): Perron has only signed contracts with one NHL team (The Blues), yet he’s played for five NHL teams overall.

Not that long after making a surprisingly quick jump to the NHL after being the 26th pick of the 2007 NHL Draft, Perron saw his early career derailed by concussion issues. Eventually, things really started to get bumpy for him during the summer of 2013, and things only settled down for Perron just recently. Consider this timeline:

  • Exploded with a career-high 28 goals in 2013-14, his first season with the Edmonton Oilers after being involved in a trade that also included Ivan Barbashev.
  • That hot start to his Oilers career may have set expectations too high. In typical Oilers fashion, Perron was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins after a cold start to 2014-15 (Perron’s shooting percentage was at 6.8 before joining the Pens).
  • For whatever reason, Perron never really clicked with Pittsburgh. He was eventually traded to the Anaheim Ducks in 2015-16, which Perron described to Burnside as a rock-bottom moment.
  • Whereas a player with less will and skill might have found a career going down the drain, Perron got back on track. He generated 20 points in his 28 games with the Ducks to close out 2015-16.
  • The Blues came calling again for 2016-17, and the occasionally injury-challenged Perron managed to play all 82 regular-season games. Back to normal, right? Not exactly …
  • The Vegas Golden Knights made Perron their Blues selection during the expansion draft, bringing upheaval to Perron’s career yet again. Despite Perron managing 66 points in just 70 games in 2017-18, the slick stickhandler fell out of favor a bit toward the end of his Vegas stay, including a bumpy postseason.
  • Once again, the Blues signed Perron for 2018-19. He managed an impressive 23 goals and 23 assists for 46 points despite being limited to 57 games played, then scored 16 points in 26 playoff games to help the Blues win their first-ever Stanley Cup.

Blues broadcaster Darren Pang remarked to Burnside that Perron’s course through the league might just be one-of-a-kind.

“It’s actually quite amazing; it’s a unique story,” Pang said in May. “I don’t think you’re ever going to see anything like it again. I really don’t.”

Even Perron’s path to the QMJHL wasn’t exactly a straight line, so maybe he’s simply been accustomed to having to prove himself over and over again?

This isn’t just about a player who’s become an unusually productive journeyman, either. It’s been remarkable to see how versatile Perron is, as he’s been able to adapt to different circumstances, shifting his style to whatever works best for his linemates and teams.

During that wild 2017-18 season with the Golden Knights, Perron was more of a facilitator and playmaker, with 50 of his 66 points in 70 games being assists. When Perron returned to the Blues last season, he ramped up his sniping, managing that impressive 23 goals in just 57 games on a scorching 20.5 shooting percentage. If you prorate that over an 82-game season, that would have meant 32-33 goals for Perron.

It’s all a testament to not just Perron’s skill and Swiss Army Knife scoring, but also tenacity. There were multiple times where he could have sulked and watched his production plummet, yet Perron consistently made lemonade out of professional lemons. It’s pretty inspiring.

Here’s hoping that Perron doesn’t have to endure another career upheaval during Seattle’s expansion draft (a no-trade clause should help), but chances are, Perron would make it work. Maybe his Seattle transformation would involve Perron becoming a shutdown forward?

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Blues raise Stanley Cup banner before meeting Capitals

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season begins with Wednesday’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals when the Blues raise their 2019 Stanley Cup banner. Coverage begins at 6:30p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Blues will raise their first-ever Stanley Cup banner 364 days after the Capitals did the same thing following their 2018 championship season. The only repeat champion over the past 2 decades is the Penguins, who won in 2016 and ‘17 before losing to Washington in their quest to three-peat.

“They’ve turned the page and moved forward,” said Blues GM Doug Armstrong. “There are still remnants of last year’s success — the ring ceremony opening night, maybe a visit to the White House or the Hall of Fame presentation — there are still moments that are connected to last year’s team. But once the guys walked into the room this training camp, they don’t talk about it.”

Washington enters this season with teo of its key players, Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom, entering the final year of their current contracts. With Alex Ovechkin two years away from free agency himself, and the Capitals tight against the salary cap already, it will be difficult for the team to retain every core piece from its championship group.

“I didn’t think we would be able to get enough money to sign Carlson, and we made it happen,” said Capitals GM Brian McLellan. “I am not ruling anything out. I mean, obviously it will be tough to do, especially if they both have good years. It is going to be hard to do, but I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Alex Ovechkin enters this season 13th on the all-time goals list with 658. He is 10 away from tying Luc Robitaille for 12th place, but it will take a while to move up beyond that. 30 goals would move him to 11th, 40 goals would move him to eighth, and if he can match his total from last season (51), he would take sole possession of seventh.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

WHAT: Washington Capitals at St. Louis Blues
WHERE: Enterprise Center
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 2, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Capitals-Blues stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

CAPITALS
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Jakub VranaLars EllerT.J. Oshie
Carl HagelinChandler StephensonRichard Panik
Brendan LeipsicNic DowdGarnet Hathaway

Jonas SiegenthalerJohn Carlson
Dmitry OrlovNick Jensen
Martin Fehervary – Radko Gudas

Starting goalie: Braden Holtby

BLUES
Jaden SchwartzBrayden SchennVladimir Tarasenko
Sammy BlaisRyan O'ReillyDavid Perron
Robby FabbriTyler BozakRobert Thomas
Ivan BarbashevOskar SundqvistAlex Steen

Alex PietrangeloJustin Faulk
Jay BouwmeesterColton Parayko
Vince DunnRobert Bortuzzo

Starting goalie: Jordan Binnington

Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN with a special 90-minute edition of NHL Live, as host Kathryn Tappen, analysts Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp, and NHL insider Bob McKenzie preview the evening’s doubleheader and the upcoming 2019-20 season. Analyst Jeremy Roenick will be on-site in St. Louis to capture the scene outside Enterprise Center prior to the raising of the Blues’ first-ever Stanley Cup championship banner.

Mike Emrick, who returns for his 15th season as NBC Sports’ lead NHL play-by-play commentator, Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher will call Capitals-Blues from Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo.

PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: From Russia to Indy Car

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The PHT Stanley Cup tracker will keep tabs on how the St. Louis Blues spend their summer celebrating.

It’s been a couple weeks since we last tracked Lord Stanley’s travels this summer, and he’s been as busy as ever.

The Cup took to its European leg of its travel over the past couple of weeks, with stops in Russia, Finland and Sweden, before heading back to North America to take in a Indy Car race.

The European trip began in Sweden with a trio of the country’s finest getting their days with the Cup.

Alex Steen, Carl Gunnarsson and Oskar Sundqvist.

Gunnarsson kicked it off in his hometown of Orebro, where he was given a hero’s welcome.

Sundqvist, meanwhile, took it to his hometown of Boden, where he and the Cup took to the skies with the Swedish Armed Forces.

Steen’s day came in Sundsvall where took the cup to the local children’s hospital and also hung out with father and former Winnipeg Jets forward Thomas Steen.

Young Ville Husso, perhaps St. Louis’ future between the pipes, got his day with the Cup in Helsinki in the middle of the month, electing to bring it to IFK Helsinki where Husso played four three seasons in Liiga.

Moscow was next as Ivan Barbashev took the Cup to home arena of Dynamo Moscow.

There was also a special message from a fellow Mso

“Congratulations on winning the Stanley Cup. I myself know how hard it is to win it,” Ovechkin said in a recorded message to Barbashev. “We are with you as one, but don’t relax because next year I’ll take the Cup back from you. I’m already getting ready.”

The Cup even enjoyed some homebrew from Barbashev’s dad.

From there, the Cup traveled to Novosibirsk, the home of Vladimir Tarasenko.

It seems St. Louis’ Russian players are good friends with those from the Capitals. Tarasenko spent some time with Dmitry Orlov.

Back Stateside, the Cup made its way World Wide Technology Raceway, which is just easy of St. Louis, with race fans Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Paraykoi and Barbashev.

Parayko even got a chance to get a ride in a car.

The PHT Stanley Cup tracker

 Week 1: Cup heads to the Canadian prairies
• Week 2: Stanley Cup heads east to Ontario
• Week 3: Pat Maroon takes Cup back to St. Louis for some toasted ravioli
• Week 4: Ryan O’Reilly celebrates with grandma
• Week 5: Perron and poutine; Allen gives back
• Week 6: Sanford takes Cup to school; Berube takes it to second home


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Blues, Sundqvist avoid arbitration with four-year, $11 million contract

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The St. Louis Blues locked up another piece of their Stanley Cup winning team on Sunday when they re-signed restricted free agent forward Oskar Sundqvist to a four-year contract.

Sundqvist, 25, had filed for salary arbitration and a hearing scheduled for this week.

That will no longer be necessary thanks to this new deal.

According to the Blues the contract will pay Sundqvist a total of $11 million, averaging out to a salary cap hit of $2.75 million per season.

The Blues acquired Sundqvist, as well as a first-round draft pick that was used to select forward Klim Kostin, prior to the 2017-18 season in the trade that sent Ryan Reaves and a second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins. After managing just a single goal and four assists in in 42 games in his debut season with the Blues, Sundqvist had a breakout season in 2018-19 with 14 goals and 17 assists in 74 regular season games.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

He also played a big depth role in the playoffs by adding four goals and five assists in 25 playoff games.

With Sundqvist back in the mix the Blues now have two more restricted free agents to sign in forward Ivan Barbashev and defender Joel Edmundson. Edmundson has an arbitration hearing scheduled for August 4. The Blues have already successfully avoided arbitration hearings with starting goalie Jordan Binnington, forward Zach Sanford, and now Sundqvist, so it seems reasonable to assume they will be able to settle with Edmundson as well.

The Blues still have around $5 million in salary cap space to work with this summer.

MORE BLUES COVERAGE:
• Binnington signs two-year, $8.8 million deal
Fabbri gets one-year deal from Blues
• PHT Stanley Cup Tracker: Maroon takes Cup back to St. Louis for some toasted ravioli

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Fabbri gets one-year deal from Blues, looks to get career back on track

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The St. Louis Blues announced on Friday afternoon that they have re-signed restricted free agent forward Robby Fabbri to a one-year contract that will pay him $900,000 during the 2019-20 season. Once Fabbri was given a qualifying offer earlier this summer it was pretty much a given that he was going to be re-signed. The question now becomes whether or not he can get his career back on track after what were three mostly lost seasons.

During the 2016-17 season Fabbri looked as if he was on his way to becoming an excellent player for the Blues. He was a recent first-round pick, still only 21 years old, and was one of the team’s most productive and talented forwards that was building off of a promising rookie campaign.

But in early February of that season he suffered a devastating ACL injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Things got worse for him when he re-injured the same knee the following offseason, forcing him to miss the entire 2017-18 season.

He didn’t return to the Blues lineup until November of this past season after having missed nearly two full years of what should have been prime development years in the NHL. It proved to be a difficult season as he appeared in just 32 games, playing only 12 minutes per night (a three-minute per night drop from his first two years in the league) and scoring just two goals and six total points.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

He added one goal in 10 playoff games for the Blues on their way to winning the Stanley Cup.

Fabbri is a fascinating player for the Blues this season because he is still such a talented player and is still young enough that there should be at least some potential there. He is a year removed from the knee injuries that derailed such a significant part of his career to this point, and prior to the injury was on track to becoming a legitimate second-line scorer. Before the ACL injury in 2017 he was scoring at 20-goal, 50-point pace over 82 games while also posting positive possession numbers. He was a really good player and one of the best ones the Blues had.

With his injuries now in the rear-view mirror and a chance to start the 2019-20 season healthy, he can hopefully get back to that level for the Blues.

With Fabbri now signed the Blues still have to re-sign restricted free agent forwards Ivan Barbashev and Oskar Sundqvist, defender Joel Edmundson, and starting goalie Jordan Binnington.

Sundqvist, Edmundson, and Binnington all filed for salary arbitration, with Binnington’s being one of the most fascinating cases on the schedule.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.