Elliotte Friedman mentioned a little over a week ago that he heard the Montreal Canadiens weren’t done making moves to try to improve their club. Clearly that was true, as the Canadiens added Michael Frolik last week on a one-year deal worth $750,000. Then today, with training camp looming less than a week away, Marc Bergevin added former Hart Trophy and Rocket Richard winner Corey Perry at the same term and price.
Perry is long since departed from his 30-goal form, but brings certain ... let’s say ‘attitude’ to the lineup that Bergevin wants for his team. A huge chunk of that is experience, namely 1045 NHL games worth of experience, plus another 145 in the playoffs, along with a gold medal with Team Canada at the Olympics in 2014. He may not be an elite goal-scorer anymore, but he has plenty to teach the youth in the Canadiens’ lineup.
Perry is coming off a season in which he compiled five goals and 16 assists in 57 games for the Dallas Stars in the regular season, but where he shone last year was in the return to play for the Stars’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. He tallied five goals and four assists, interjecting himself into every post-whistle scrum or skirmish, much to the chagrin of every single team the Stars matched up with.
Last year, he presented a serviceable third-line option who played up in the lineup when needed due to injuries. In that role he did just fine for the Stars, providing a small boost to their offensive and defensive metrics, and he can hopefully do the same in Montreal.
His contribrutions were nothing monumental overall, but it is worth noting the Stars even-strength heat map was a tad worse without Perry on the ice, so it was a positive impact, no matter how minor.
His tendency to muck it up in front of the net serves him well on the power play as well, and gives the Canadiens another option on a man advantage that has struggled mightily the last few years.
Using Perry to cause traffic in front of the opposing net can help to free up space for playmakers like Nick Suzuki and Jonathan Drouin, or help take away the goalie’s eyes and help Shea Weber and Jeff Petry create more from the blue line. It should be noted that the Stars were not a high-scoring team last year; Tyler Seguin led the team with just 50 total points. While I’m personally not expecting a huge point total from Perry, he may see his goal total rise in Claude Julien’s system.
Offence would be helpful, but it should seem pretty obvious why Perry has been given a new home in Montreal. For all their heart and determination, the Canadiens lacked a certain element in intense games. They went out and added Joel Edmundson on the back end, brought in Josh Anderson to be their power forward, and now add Perry.
The Canadiens want to make every single game a nightmare for the opposition, and given the nature of the North Division, Corey Perry is a good fit. Every Canadian team has some sort of physical pest or agitator, and the Habs likely just signed the best one of them all. With 10 games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Wayne Simmonds and 19 versus players named Tkachuk, adding Perry to the lineup helps occupy those players while the more skilled ones in the Habs lineup focus on more productive tasks.
Perry thrives at inserting himself where he doesn’t belong and driving opponents insane, and in a division where it’s going to be a dogfight every night, whatever advantage you can muster is key. The NHL-quality depth he brings on the right wing, behind Brendan Gallagher, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, and Joel Armia, having Perry as a bottom-six option is a luxury.
For $750,000 there’s almost zero risk in adding a player like Perry to the Montreal Canadiens roster (minus any pushback from a fanbase that could love to hate him from a distance for 15 years). He can provide a small offensive boost, brings a wealth of experience, and provides solid cover when the condensed schedule leads to injury and fatigue. I don’t expect him to play every single night, but when he does you can fully expect him to be at his peskiest.