Penguins acquire Perron from Oilers for first-round pick, Klinkhammer
David Perron insisted the only French Canadian he ever has had as a teammate was Benoit Pouliot this year with the Edmonton Oilers.
Life in Pittsburgh should be significantly different for Perron, who was acquired by general manager Jim Rutherford on Friday for a first-round draft pick in 2015 and forward Rob Klinkhammer.
Not only do the Penguins employ four French speakers in defensemen Simon Despres and Kris Letang, forward Pascal Dupuis and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, but Perron also went from arguably the NHL's worst team to one of its best.
“It was difficult at times as far as the team, but it makes you appreciate a situation like Pittsburgh,” Perron said. “Winning hockey games is fun. You come to the rink every day with a smile on your face. You're never grumpy. You're just happy to be a part of it. That's the thing I'm looking forward to.”
Perron was traveling from Denver — the Oilers played the Avalanche on Friday — to Pittsburgh on Friday evening. He is expected to be in the lineup Saturday when the Penguins host his hometown Montreal Canadiens.
Perron, 26, is a year removed from a career-best season that included 28 goals and 29 assists in a 78 games. In 456 career games, Perron has 117 goals and 157 assists.
He has missed just three games the past three seasons.
“(Perron) seems to be a pretty durable guy,” Rutherford said.
On a team devoid of centers, Perron has five goals and 14 assists in 38 games this season for Edmonton, though he seemingly fell out of favor when he was critical of the team in November.
Rutherford said he had been inquiring about Perron “for over a month.” A longtime preference of Rutherford's has been to strike early and not wait until the trade deadline.
“He can get used to his teammates,” Rutherford said. “Everybody can get to know each other.”
The reaction to the trade was overwhelmingly positive, a score for the Penguins GM. He acquired a top-six winger — a stated goal of his all season — while not parting with one of the team's prized young defensemen: Derrick Pouliot, Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin.
“I think this is a job well done by Rutherford,” TSN's Darren Dreger said on TribLIVE Radio.
Whether Rutherford is done remains an intriguing question. The Penguins are still a top-six winger short, but given Perron's $3.8 million cap hit takes up the relief the Penguins got by placing Dupuis on long-term injured reserve — and then some — they would have to free up salary to acquire anyone else.
“It gets a little trickier now,” Rutherford said. “We can still make moves, but any future moves we would make, we would have to take somebody out of our lineup.
“I like what the guys have done to this point. Everybody in different ways has contributed to where we are. We'll just watch the team to what the needs are. If we feel we still have needs, we have lots of time to add.”
For Perron, it is a chance to go from a team that was competing for one of the top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft to one with a legitimate shot at winning the Stanley Cup.
“With the situation the team is in, they're not going to win the Stanley Cup this year,” Perron said of Edmonton. “You hear your name in rumors. You know that things can happen. I'm really excited for this opportunity.”