What Role will David Perron
Play this Year?
David Perron continues to work his way back to full health. He is skating and working with his teammates and is traveling with the club. Blues fans rejoiced when Perron rejoined his team at the practice rink just a handful of days ago. As he returns to the ice and begins to find his old stamina and form he had back before his injury in November of 2010, the question must be asked - what should we expect from Perron this year?
This is a topic we briefly touched on before the 2011-12 season got underway. My opinion was that we should all brace for the worst and hope for the best. The best would be a healthy David Perron in the first half of the year with no lingering effects from his concussion. The worst? Well, let's not even bother mentioning that.
Now that Perron is skating and starting his road to recovery, the easy thing to do is jump to conclusions and start thinking big. It's important to remember that Perron and the club will take his recovery slowly. After all, it's already been nearly a year since his last NHL game so there's really no sense in rushing anything now that Perron is making steps toward a return.
If you've caught a practice recently, you may have seen Perron skating in the red no-contact jersey meaning that while he has been cleared to practice he has not been cleared for any type of contact from his teammates. While I've been encouraged by Perron's progress I'm still holding my breath for when Perron takes on his biggest test - contact. This is when we will know just what type of effect Perron's concussion might have long-term. Time to start betting which of Perron's teammates will be the first to provide the previous mentioned contact.
The important thing to remember is that we aren't out of the woods yet. Perron is making tremendous strides but the biggest obstacle has yet to be scaled.
Now, assuming everything goes along as planned and there aren't any setbacks (knock on wood), what can we expect from Perron when he returns to action? It's pretty difficult to forecast. Obviously, there will be quite a bit of rust to churn through. Regardless of how many practice sessions he has with his team there is nothing quite like the speed of the NHL in an actual game.
How Perron is used will not only depend on what he looks like once he steps into an NHL game but also what the team is doing at that time. His minutes will be closely monitored and you can bet the Blues won't throw him right in the fire. The club won't disrupt any chemistry that exists at that time so it's really just a shot in the dark to guess where Perron might skate and which players will join him.
My opinion? I'm sticking with my original advice of bracing for the worst and hoping for the best. I sincerely hope Perron will make a big impact with the Blues in 2011-12 and be an infusion of young talent to the St. Louis roster. My hope is that he adds another element of depth and completes a potent offense that is capable of big numbers across multiple scoring lines. A healthy Perron could be that edge the Blues need to surpass some clubs in the very tough Western Conference.
As for specific numbers, it's nearly impossible to speculate. I'd love to see Perron find his scoring touch (especially against the Sharks) but who knows what his shot and skating will look like after so much time off. When he returns, his natural talent will generate points - there's really no doubt about that. You just can't assign any numbers to him at this time.
My fear is that Perron's system won't be able to handle a check like it used to. This is a fear I'd label as a "worst case scenario" but it's also a realistic one given the unpredictable nature of concussions. Here's to hoping Perron's body proves me wrong and that we'll eventually be able to turn the page on his injury from 2010-11.