Dallas Stars: Addition Of Corey Perry Could Provide Substantial Payoff

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck against Jason Spezza #90 of the Dallas Stars during the game on February 21, 2018 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck against Jason Spezza #90 of the Dallas Stars during the game on February 21, 2018 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Dallas Stars added veteran forward Corey Perry on a short-term, low-cost deal on July 1. And while the addition has been met with skepticism from some Stars fans for a variety of reasons, he’s got the opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact.

When asked about the reception he is expecting from Dallas Stars fans on opening night during his July 1 conference call with the media, Corey Perry took a moment to laugh.

“We’ve had so many battles, that’s for sure,” Perry said. “I think once they get to know me and watch me on a nightly basis and not just playing against them, it’s going to be a good fit. I’m excited to get to Dallas and be a part of that community and organization.”

That’s a nearly perfect answer coming from a player that has been adamantly disliked by Stars fans for the better part of a decade. And while trying to pinpoint the exact day that the disliking of Perry began, there’s a common factor that seems to unite the contempt: the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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In the first round of the 2014 postseason, the Dallas Stars, who snuck in as the final wild card team and ended their five-year postseason drought, took on the Anaheim Ducks, who had just clinched the top seed in the Western Conference.

And while the Ducks ousted the Stars in six games, the series involved plenty of thrills and sparks, many of which included Perry at the center of attention.

From spearing Jamie Benn after Benn slammed him into the boards from behind while battling for a loose puck, to fighting Antoine Roussel, to simply being a pest and getting in the face of every Stars player he could, Perry quickly claimed the title of “Undesirable No. 1” in the minds of Stars fans.

And over the past five years, that title has carried. Every time Perry touches the puck at the American Airlines Center, a chorus of boos rains down from the stands. And when he does something against the Stars in Anaheim that sets fans off, the #CoreyPerryFacts hashtag makes an appearance on Twitter.

Simply put: he’s buried himself under the skin of Stars fans for more than five years now.

Now, he’ll put on Victory Green for the first time in his career and suit up for the Dallas Stars for the 2019-20 season. And, as you could probably guess, the signing came with some mixed reactions.

And while part of that had to do with Perry’s reputation in Dallas, another part had to do with his current status.

The veteran forward is coming off of a 31-game campaign with the Ducks in 2018-19 that was severely limited by a knee injury that he suffered while warming up for a preseason game. The injury required surgery on both his MCL and meniscus and sidelined him until Feb. 2, 2019 when he made his 2018-19 regular season debut.

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By that point, a struggling Anaheim Ducks team had already, for the most part, accepted its fate. The Ducks were 21-22-9, were one week away from firing head coach Randy Carlyle and replacing him with GM Bob Murray, and looked to be in line to sell heavy at the 2019 Trade Deadline.

Anaheim finished 13th in the Western Conference and entered an early offseason with no playoff action for the first time since 2011-12. With that early exit came a lot of questions about their future and what direction the team was headed after six consecutive years of falling just short of the ultimate goal.

And so, the Ducks entered the offseason with a new game plan: get younger and begin rebuilding. They hired a young head coach, drafted well, and added some young talent in Free Agency. Oh, and they bought out the final two years of Corey Perry’s contract.

A buyout is the easiest way to raise red flags on a player. Why did his former team buy him out? Is the recent injury still a problem? What is so wrong with him that the GM felt the need to get rid of a franchise cornerstone?

Yes, Perry turned 34 in May. Yes, he hit career lows in goals (6), points (10), and plus-minus rating (-16). And yes, he’s still recovering from knee surgery and there’s no telling what level he might reach with the Dallas Stars in 2019-20.

But that’s exactly why he could be the Stars’ biggest bargain in the campaign ahead and serve as a valuable addition.

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  • The thing about Perry is that his knee injury and rushed return to the lineup couldn’t have come at a worse time. With the Ducks tanking in 2018-19 and looking for a fresh start in 2019-20, Perry’s lacking production and inability to play the majority of the season mixed with an $8.625 million cap hit made him the easiest target to send out (even if he was a fan-favorite for more than a decade and helped lead the team on a long stretch of success).

    But that injury takes longer than four months to recover from.

    “Corey Perry blew his knee out last year in September at camp, and that’s an injury that takes a year to recover [from],” said GM Jim Nill on July 1. “He came back I think two months earlier than he was supposed to, so we knew there was going to be a period when people were watching him in February and March and he was struggling, but you know that with those injuries.”

    So, while health is still somewhat of a concern, Perry should be closer (if not at) full health by the time the 2019-20 season begins. And if he can clear that hurdle, he could be in line for an impressive year.

    “Physically, I feel great,” Perry mentioned. “I’m 100 percent and the knee feels 100 percent. I’ve already started skating, so it’s definitely going to be hopefully a great year for me and a bounce back year. I’m ready to prove people wrong.”

    Adding a healthy Corey Perry gives the Dallas Stars a lot of attributes that they didn’t have in 2018-19. As many Stars fans already know, he’s a pesky player that can provide an agitating edge when on the ice. He knows how to get in the opponent’s head and under their skin using a mix of physicality and speed. He’s a pest on the ice and in the corners and uses that quality to force the opponent out of sync.

    He’s a bigger winger (6-3, 206 lb.) that knows how to work his way around defenders with a crafty skating ability all while protecting the puck. He can contribute on the power play and can also put in time on the penalty kill when needed. He’s a smart player with great instincts and a wealth of knowledge and experience after a decade of dominance with the Anaheim Ducks.

    Oh, and when you mix in the fact that he was bought out, there should be an extra fire burning in him throughout the 2019-20 season as he looks to prove his former team wrong.

    “Corey Perry has been a world-class player and he’s won Olympics, a Stanley Cup, he’s been an MVP of the league, and he’s won the scoring race,” Nill said. “Those guys just don’t go away. He’s still got that fire in him, he wants to win, and that’s why he came here. It’s a contract where he’s saying, ‘You know what? I’m still a player in this league,’ and that’s what excites me because he’s going to have a bounce back year.”

    From the time he was bought out to July 1, it was reported that more than 10 teams had expressed interest in signing Perry. That’s because of the attributes he can bring to a team both on the ice and in the locker room.

    "“Yeah, there was a lot of interest and that’s a good thing to have. That means that they still think I can play this game, play effectively, and be a part of something they are trying to create. When I first started it, I didn’t know where it was going to go or who was going to reach out. But I’m thankful for Dallas for doing that.” –Corey Perry on the interest he received"

    “Accountability, speaking up when the room or team needs it, grabbing guys as a big brother but also maybe punching guys in the stomach sometimes when they need to be punched, that’s what I think they’re going to provide,” Jim Montgomery said of Perry and fellow July 1 addition Joe Pavelski. “They came here to win, so I don’t think they’re going to waste any time trying to assert themselves as leaders.”

    To top it all off, Perry’s cap hit rings in at just $1.5 million (with a handful of performance bonuses tied in with it). Assuming Jason Dickinson makes at least $1.5 million with his new contract, Perry will be the 11th-highest paid forward on the Dallas payroll this season. Only Roope Hintz and Justing Dowling currently own lower cap hits.

    "“They’re a quick team. Like I said, they have everything that I want in a hockey team and they’re on the verge of putting something really great together. I want to be a part of that. That’s why I chose Dallas.” –Corey Perry on why he chose the Dallas Stars"

    And if you can get a good return from Perry in all areas of the game all while the Ducks are paying him more than the Stars, you can’t ask for much more.

    Perry could end up fitting in a number of different positions in the lineup. Maybe he plays on the right wing on the second line and rounds out the top six alongside Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn to create an agitating line that can score and bury the opposition. Or maybe he fits on the third line alongside Radek Faksa and Andrew Cogliano and further solidifies the Stars’ checking line with an added scoring punch.

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  • Wherever the Dallas Stars put him, though, he should be able to find a fit. That’s just the kind of player he is. It’s not unlikely to assume that Perry can contribute 15-25 goals and 45-60 points in the 2019-20 season. And if he can contribute that while adding in sturdy leadership qualities that could help push the Stars through the postseason, he just might be their most valuable offseason addition.

    “I think if I can go in, fit right in right away, and get off on the right foot, I think it’s going to be great,” Perry said. “For me personally, I’m going in there with the right attitude and motivation to prove people wrong. I’ve done that throughout my whole career and it’s worked so far. Hopefully it continues to do that.”

    So, while Perry has a bit of a messy history with the Dallas Stars organization, this next season could be what changes his reputation entirely. His contract is a bargain, his skill set and experience would be a valuable addition for any team, and he’s got the fire and desire to win the Stanley Cup again and prove the doubters wrong. People trying to prove others wrong can be the hardest ones to stop at times.

    And with Perry boasting a desire to play for a Dallas Stars team “on the verge of putting something great together,” he should be able to fit right in and help the Stars take the next step.

    “They were definitely high on my radar,” Perry said of Dallas. “Obviously, we talked to a lot of teams and it’s a process with narrowing it down. But Dallas has always been a place where I would love to play and like I said, you look at the lineup they have and being one shot away from a conference final, it’s definitely promising and I’m looking forward to adding to it.”

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    And what is it that people always like to say? Opposites attract?