Oilers should give Corey Perry a wide berth

Oct 14, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks forward Corey Perry (94) skates during the warmup period before the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks forward Corey Perry (94) skates during the warmup period before the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

There has been talk of the Oilers considering signing Corey Perry, but we explain why they should stay away from the former Hart Trophy winner.

Most hockey fans are well aware of the controversy surrounding Corey Perry, with the Chicago Blackhawks recently terminating his contract. So what does this have to do with the Edmonton Oilers?

There has been some suggestion that the Oilers should consider making a play for Perry. The Edmonton Journal‘s Dave Staples wrote an article, with the conclusion that it would make sense if the team did indeed look into him.

Staples’ article was an in depth, objective and intriguing read, which made various excellent points. However, we thought we’d take this opportunity to play devil’s advocate and explain why the Oilers should stay away from the four-time All-Star.

Forget about THAT rumour

It should be noted our reasoning has nothing to do with one particular rumour as to why Perry was let go by the Blackhawks. We won’t go into the ridiculous and damaging details of the speculation, which highlights everything that is wrong with social media.

However, what we will do, is include a link to an article from Eric Macramalla of Forbes. Macramalla explains why the salacious rumours don’t stand up to further scrutiny.

Not all of the details are clear as to why Perry’s contract was terminated, and may very well never see the light of day. However, what we do know from Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson’s press conference, is that an incident involving Perry happened in the workplace and involved a team employee.

For his part, Perry released a statement last week, where he apologized for his inappropriate and wrong behaviour. As per ESPN‘s Greg Wyshynski, he said he is seeking professional help for substance abuse.

The 2011 Hart Trophy winner has cleared waivers and officially become an unrestricted free agent. He apparently hasn’t asked for the NHLPA to help with filing a grievance, although they are still performing their due diligence by investigating the whole matter.

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So what about Edmonton?

Despite considering Perry’s admission of his issues and seeking help, he’s someone the Oilers just don’t want, or more to the point, need any part of. There’s been more than enough turmoil already in Edmonton this season, and they’re only a quarter of the way through the 2023-24 campaign.

We’re of course talking about the subpar record to begin the season, the premature decision to fire Jay Woodcroft, the defensive issues, the inexplicable anger towards Connor McDavid, and so on. Despite the recent four-game winning streak, this is still a mentally fragile team which doesn’t need any more unnecessary distractions, whether perceived or real.

As already mentioned and linked to, we do not believe the irresponsible rumour circulating about Perry. However, as the saying goes, there are people out there who won’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

In terms of the 2007 Stanley Cup champion himself, he needs to focus on getting the help he has referred to, rather than playing again at this stage. Of course, there is the counter argument that the Oilers previously gave Evander Kane a second (last) chance in the NHL.

Further, the gamble with Kane has worked out well, with him grateful for the opportunity, playing well and mostly being a model citizen in Edmonton. However, this is a different time, a different player and a different situation.

No one’s denying Perry has been one of the top wingers in the game during his time in the NHL, but he’s now 38-years-old and his best days are behind him. The Oilers need to be considering younger options and building their roster up for the long run, rather than looking for short-term (potential) fixes.

Aside from anything else though, the Oilers just don’t have the cap space to fit in Perry. And this is even if he’s prepared (which you assume he would be) to take a smaller deal than the one-year, $4 million deal he signed with the Blackhawks ahead of this season.

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Ultimately, the Oilers would be best to give Perry a wide berth. However, we accept that when you take into account aspects such as Staples’ article and the Kane reclamation project, you can never say never, especially in the world of professionals sports, where there is often a team willing to give someone a last chance.