ST. LOUIS — A day after Doug Armstrong told reporters no player on his team was safe from a potential trade, the St. Louis Blues’ general manager showed he wasn’t bluffing. David Perron is no longer a Blue. The left wing was traded by the team Wednesday, shipped to the Edmonton Oilers for left wing Magnus Paajarvi and a second-round draft pick in 2014. Both clubs officially announced the trade Wednesday afternoon.
Armstrong, via teleconference after the announcement, explained the benefits as twofold. First, the Blues were in search of a big winger to add to a group of forwards that is relatively the same size across the board.
Second, the transition gives St. Louis — a team that has increased its spending this offseason — more salary cap room to sign restricted free agent targets Chris Stewart and Alex Pietrangelo. Armstrong has previously said both are priorities.
“I hope David goes to Edmonton and has a fabulous career,” Armstrong said. “This is a trade we hope helps both teams.”
Perron, 25, spent six seasons in St. Louis after the team drafted him with their first pick, No. 26 overall, in 2007. He played in 340 games, scored 84 goals and had 114 assists for a total of 198 points. He had signed a four-year contract with St. Louis (a deal worth a reported $15.25 million) a year ago.
After sitting out more than a year due to a concussion, Perron rebounded in 2011-12, scoring a career-high 21 goals. But this past season that number dipped; he scored just 10 times. Armstrong deflected the question when asked if Perron struggled to fit into Blues’ coach Ken Hitchcock’s system.
“I don’t believe there was an issue there,” he said. “Last year he didn’t produce offensively the way he did before. That seemed to be a universal thing with our group, though.”
The Blues will move forward with Paajarvi; they have his rights for the next four years. The 22-year-old was picked by the Oilers 10th overall in the 2009 entry draft, and has bounced back and forth between Edmonton and the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL since, never playing more than 15 games in the NHL in one season. In 163 NHL games, he has scored 26 goals and 32 assists for a total of 58 points. Nine of those goals and seven of those assists came in 2012-13.
“We think Magnus is just entering the guts of his career,” Armstrong said. “We’re looking forward to him being a Blue.”
Armstrong praised Paajarvi’s speed, and said he will need to get better at attacking the net instead of sticking to the perimeter. He said he expects the player to compete immediately at the NHL level. But the general manager spoke most about size — Paajarvi stands 6-foot-3, 200-pounds.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt,” Armstrong said. “If you could have small and skilled, or big and skilled, you would take big and skilled. Size does matter.” Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at email@example.com.