A former Hart Trophy winner might be available this off-season, it might just make sense for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring in one of the most experienced forwards active in the NHL today.
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— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 8, 2019
Corey Perry is on his way out of Anaheim, either by way of trade or his last two years of his contract being bought out by the Ducks. His deal currently holds a $8.625-million cap hit so there is no way the Leafs would even start thinking about acquiring him via trade, but as an unrestricted free agent, it could be a possibility.
The first buyout window this offseason runs from June 15 to June 30, plenty of time for Ducks GM Bob Murray to ponder the thought of letting go one of the best forwards in franchise history.
Obviously Perry is nowhere near the player that he used to be. Injuries have certainly taken a toll on the 34-year-old power forward, but he made a comeback late last season and was still productive. Scoring six goals and 10 points in the 31 games through February and March was a small sliver of hope that Perry can still play. He averaged only 14:49 TOI last season, his lowest since the 2006-07 season, but slowly coming back after knee surgery might be a massive factor.
More in terms of what type of player Perry has been as of late, the past two seasons for the forward mark the first time in his career that he has a negative shot attempt percentage relative to his teammates. Sitting at a -2.1 CF%rel last season and -0.2 CF%rel in 2017-18, there is a worrisome trend.
But a quick reminder that the Anaheim Ducks were one of the worst offensive teams in the history of the sport last season, and only had a sniff of some regular season success because of goaltender John Gibson taking the position of immortal stopper of pucks.
Excuses aside, if Perry’s health returns he can still be an effective NHL player. He might not win his second Rocket Richard Trophy, but the winger would be able to play on a contending team once more.
With another aging forward in Patrick Marleau looking to leave Toronto, the Leafs need offensive depth on the wings. Relying on the likes of Kapanen and Moore might be nice in theory, but Perry would just add another option for Babcock to use.
Can you just imagine how pesky a combination of Kadri and Perry on a line would be?
Especially with the cap hit in mind, Perry could see a resurgence in his play like Tyler Ennis experienced with the Leafs last season. Another bought-out forward signed to a cheap one-year deal could be an answer to a couple depth questions.
The hometown kid coming back to play for his childhood team might be a boring cliche, but if a healthy Corey Perry is available, you have to imagine that the Leafs would be all over that.
If even a sliver of his former production comes back, this could be a bargain for a hopeful Leafs team next season.