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Montreal Canadiens 2016 free agency targets: David Perron might have the best value

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With all the free agent options available for the Canadiens this summer, David Perron might just be the best bet.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the names which has often been hopefully tied to the Canadiens is David Perron. He spent the first six years of his career with the St. Louis Blues, and has since been traded three times. First to the Edmonton Oilers, then the Pittsburgh Penguins, and finally the Anaheim Ducks.

Perron is a reliable provider of secondary scoring, and a fairly consistent point producer.  He typically can provide around 10-15 goals in a given season, as long as he stays healthy. He will typically add 15-30 assists to that total, so he's a great second or third line player right now.

Also of particular note for the Canadiens, he appears equally comfortable on either wing. Even more interesting are the underlying numbers that he puts up.

He has been getting first-line minutes almost everywhere he goes, but that's not his best useage. He can make a great contribution as a middle-six player, which is really where Montreal needs help. The Habs need more secondary scoring in a big way, and Perron could be the guy to bring it.

He might be headed for decline at the age of 28, but his individual numbers over the last three years are very good. He did so with three different teams, and in a variety of roles. The only thing that has remained consistent for him since 2013 is his production.


Image Credit: Corsica Hockey

The chart to the right indicates several different important metrics. There are two big takeaways here. He is above the league median (the grey circle) in every category, except for GF% (Goals For) and SV% (Save Percentage). You may wonder why that is, and the simplest answer is luck.

He has gotten woefully bad goaltending when on the ice, whether with Edmonton, Pittsburgh, or Anaheim. His personal production in every other regard has been admirable. Give him a goaltender like Carey Price playing behind him most of the time? Look out.

Perron can't control if the goaltending behind him is bad. He can control other aspects of his game, and the raw numbers suggest that he is legitimately good. He is best left with that middle-six type of usage, where he can be a real terror for opposing teams.

Offensively speaking, he is very good. Defensively speaking, he is around average, but suffers particularly in areas he can't even control. In the right role, and with the right backing, he is a legitimately valuable player in the NHL. There's no doubt about it.

As for whether or not it's realistic, why wouldn't he want to come to Montreal? There have been rumours linking him to the Canadiens, and he just so happens to be from Sherbrooke. They were known as legitimate contenders before the injury crisis of last season, so if he wants to compete for a cup, his closest team to home is a solid option.

His salary cap hit from his last contract is $3.8M, which would be easy to take on for most teams. Now, let's say he gets himself a decent raise, he's still looking at somewhere between the $4-5 million range. At 28, he also probably can't expect more than 3-4 years, so it's low-risk and high-reward.

Signing him for anything over that would be considered a bit of a gamble, given his age and a history of injuries. He's not terribly prone to getting hurt, but it is a legitimate concern. Not a deal breaker, but definitely something to think about during negotiations.

If the Canadiens put all their chips towards winning now, they could add Perron as a depth scoring winger who can also help shut down and agitate opposing forwards. He shouldn’t be signed with hopes to be the goal-scorer the team lacks.

If they can bring him in at the aforementioned cost and term - preferably without movement constraints - the Canadiens should definitely consider signing David Perron.