David Perron eager to accelerate rebuild, help Red Wings ‘take the next step’

Detroit News

Detroit — The talk of the Red Wings being in a rebuild sort of struck David Perron kind of funny.

Perron, who signed as a free agent with the Wings last month, was on the expansion Vegas Golden Knights team that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2018.

“I find it funny to hear the word ‘rebuild,’” Perron said during his introductory press conference after signing with the Wings.

“After the experience I lived through in Vegas, I’m not sure how long it takes to just turn a team around. You need the guys to feel important in their role, everyone pulling the rope together. I know it’s a cliché, but I lived that in Vegas. I learned big time there.”

Perron is expected to strengthen the Wings in a variety of ways after signing a two-year contract worth $9.5 million ($4.75 million salary cap hit).

A right-handed shot who has been particularly effective on the power play in St. Louis, who plays with grit and is tough to play against, and who provided leadership on a Stanley Cup-winning team are all ingredients general manager Steve Yzerman was searching for.

“He’s a pretty competitive guy,” Yzerman said. “We liked the right shot, a natural winger, very good on the power play. He’s been through a lot of playoff runs, very experienced player, excellent in the playoffs, played on St. Louis’ Stanley Cup team (in 2019). He really fills a need for us.

“I like the veteran leadership. Talking to people in St. Louis, like our players that played with him in St. Louis, he can provide a lot for us.”

Perron, at age 34, will be the oldest player on the Wings’ roster. A 2007 first-round pick of the Blues, Perron is only 27 games shy of reaching 1,000 games played in his career.

That experience, plus the championship pedigree, could prove invaluable on a younger roster. Perron joins Robby Fabbri, Oskar Sundqvist, Ville Husso and Jake Walman as former St. Louis teammates now with the Wings.

Perron was integral in the Blues’ leadership structure in recent years and feels he can help build a winning culture in Detroit.

“Those are guys I exchanged text messages (with),” Perron said. “Some of us won together there in St. Louis and would like to kind of bring some of that success to Detroit.

“That’s very important for the organization, the value of the older guys, the type of culture they want to build. I’m going to show up to be one of the guys at the start, but then you are going to try to instill some of the things you’ve learned over the years to help the team out. You see some of the strides that (young St. Louis forwards) Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou have taken over the last couple of years. In my mind, hopefully in a little way I’ve helped them become those guys.”

Perron’s impact on the power play was also a factor in Yzerman acquiring the veteran.

Eleven of Perron’s 27 goals last season in St. Louis were on the power play. Conversely, the Wings’ power play has been consistently near the bottom of the NHL the last several seasons.

“With the Blues last year we had the best power play in the history of the team. I was part of that solution, it’s something that I want to help,” Perron said. “A team that goes on a good run on the power play usually starts the year pretty well. If you start behind the eight ball and you have to dig yourself out, it’s tough to come back and have a good season.”

But Perron also developed a sound, dependable two-way game that could be a template for younger Wings forwards to follow.

Perron prefers talking about his play without the puck.

“Throughout my career, I showed that I got a lot better defensively,” he said. “I was, for the better part of four years, playing with (Blues star two-way forward) Ryan O’Reilly on the top line. With a minute left, I was either trying to score or not get scored on. It’s something over the years that I have taken a lot of pride in.

“I want to show that and help the young guys take steps forward.”

The fact Perron and the Blues parted ways remains a bit of a surprise. Perron has been an invaluable part of the Blues’ success on and off the ice, including being a popular figure in the community.

Blues fans were not pleased when the front office, seemingly, did little negotiating with Perron in an effort to bring him back. Perron, though excited about becoming a Wing, seemed disappointed with the way things ended in St. Louis.

“That’s not for me, that question, you can ask the other guy (the Blues),” Perron said of why negotiations with St. Louis stalled. “We were trying to make it work for a while with the Blues, but it didn’t work out. I’m excited to be with the Red Wings.

“The moment you get a call from Steve Yzerman, it gets your attention. I had several options that I was bouncing around in my head with my agent, my family and everyone. But the Red Wings are a team, obviously with some of the signings that happened too, they’re ready to take the next step in their evolution as a team.

“I wanted to be a part of that.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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