According to the Ottawa Sun, on TSN’s That’s Hockey Tuesday, Dave Poulin (who spent some time in NHL management) put it simply when it came to future of Corey Perry in the NHL. He said, “Go home.” And, by home, he was referring to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Suggesting Perry and Toronto make sense, he added, “Join Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton and have some fun. They won’t need you until the playoffs anyway.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Perry’s name has been in the mix when it comes to the Maple Leafs. That said, it would be one of the first times his name has come up since the Leafs roster was pretty much set and ready to roll on the 2020-21 NHL season.
Cap Space Issues Haven’t Changed
As is, the Leafs don’t have much in the way of space to add more players. They are over the salary cap ceiling by more than $1.04 million and adding another veteran to a roster that’s already been critiqued because of their new focus on older players might be pushing things. Poulin says “have some fun.” but that’s not exactly a good reason to add another player like Perry, especially when there is intense pressure on the Leafs to take the next step this season.
Technically, it’s possible to make the move, but as Spector’s Hockey points out, the Leafs have Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Wayne Simmonds and Jimmy Vesey as their right wingers for this season. There’s no need for Perry unless the plan is to shift Nylander or Vesey over to left wing. Even then, it would require more cap juggling, maybe by acquiring an LTIR contract or a cost-cutting trade.
There Is One Way…
If Perry is willing to take league minimum to join the Leafs (like others have done) and with no bonuses, he could become part of the Leafs taxi squad. Perhaps that’s what Poulin was referring to when he said, they won’t need you until the playoffs. As part of that squad, Perry likely wouldn’t be an NHL regular.
The new rules about extra roster players could mean there’s something to this, but that’s still a very big maybe. The next couple of weeks should really start to provide an indication as to how teams may approach working this taxi squad into their season game plans.
What Would Perry Actually Bring?
While an important piece for the Dallas Stars in the playoffs, Perry scored all of 21 points in 57 games last season. He’s 35 years young and he’s, at best, a situational player these days.
Had Toronto not added some of the veterans that were already placed on this current roster, that would be one thing and there would be a lot more juice to this story. But, even at league minimum, it would be hard to see where Perry fits as an everyday player.
Is he valuable in other ways? Sure. Dallas brought Perry in for big moments like his performance in Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They realized he wasn’t the Hart Trophy player he once was, but they valued his leadership and approach to the way the game needed to be played in the postseason. That could have value for the Leafs.
Still, at this point, even if there’s technically room with the new NHL and NHLPA agreement, it might be better to put Perry with the Ottawa Senators. There was some talk that this might happen and it’s pretty close to home too.
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