Pending UFA Corey Perry just finished his most recent season in the NHL. Following a loss by his Tampa Bay Lightning to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Perry is staring down the barrel of retirement, and questions regarding whether he’ll continue to play or will get an opportunity again will be out there over the next couple of months. A former Hart Trophy winner in 2011, he’s certainly on the back-nine of his career, this past season having produced 25 points in 81 games for Tampa.
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When it comes to the forward’s desire to continue his on-ice career, Perry said, “I’ve still got more in me. I still want to play. We’ll see where it goes over the next few weeks and then take it from there.” If he’ll get that opportunity in Tampa remains to be seen. The Lightning will potentially look at reshaping their roster, this season being the first of what might be a downturn in their ability to regularly contend for the Stanley Cup. The Lightning were, at one point, a dynasty. But, as players on the roster age and as their window to win closes, Perry’s usefulness on a roster like that might not be as high.
Perry has been signing team-friendly deals with contenders over the past few seasons. He became the first player in NHL history to lose three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals while playing for three different teams. He’s missed on those attempts to capture the Cup, but one has to assume that he’d be willing to sign a league-minimum deal with a contender if he was given the opportunity to do so. A veteran who knows how to show up in big games, the question for those contenders will be if his desire to play a key depth role is greater than his ability to. He did have five points in six games for the Lightning in Round 1, so there is some evidence that he can still be effective if given the right role.
So too, he provides a little edge, veteran grittiness, and he’s not afraid to mix it up and get dirty. Those are characteristics some teams might find useful.
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