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Rumors: Preds could add Corey Perry, lose P.K. Subban

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This is the bad universe.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Rumor: Corey Perry and the Nashville Predators mutually interested

When the Anaheim Ducks got themselves out of cap trouble by buying out Corey Perry’s massive contract, they set Perry up to go to a team of his choosing, on a salary that would work for both Perry and the team.

Now, according to Pierre LeBrun of the Athletic, there’s a chance that that team might be the Preds. LeBrun reports,

There’s mutual interest between Perry and the Nashville Predators, sources say. In fact, I think Nashville was one of the teams on his short list he’d waive his no-trade for when Anaheim was first trying to trade him.

Another team LeBrun says has showed some interest is the Chicago Blackhawks, which is a different kind of not ideal for Preds fans.

Perry, who recently turned 34, missed more than half of the 2018-19 season due to surgery, but is still a competent player and could bring considerable value to a NHL club on the right deal.

The issue with Perry is, of course, that he’s not widely liked outside of the Ducks fanbase, and arguably not universally beloved within it, because of his playstyle. If you need a quick refresher, he’s made Most Hated NHL Players lists and makes headlines like this. And that’s not even asking our SBNation colleagues at Battle of Cali (link is extremely NSFW).

He plays like kind of a jerk, is what I’m saying here.

The problem, and the reason that teams have some interest in him now that he’s no longer costing over eight million a year against the salary cap, is that he also plays like a useful hockey player. The most infuriating thing about Perry has always been that he doesn’t have to play the way he does to succeed in the NHL, he just does it anyway—he has the talent to stick just based on his ability to score goals. And he hasn’t lost that yet.

Individual player isolate for Corey Perry, based on the last two seasons.
Micah Blake McCurdy/@IneffectiveMath, hockeyviz.com

His player isolate, from Micah Blake McCurdy, shows a player who helps drive play better than league average both offensively and defensively, and is a force on the power play. Even this most recent season, during which his counting stats weren’t great, the Ducks played better with Perry than without him.

Bryan Bastin, joining us today at On the Forecheck, put together some visualizations to show where Perry’s “down season” last year would have fallen among the Preds’ actual roster, and it’s a pretty nasty wake-up call for Preds fans. Perry would have been one of the Predators’ more productive forwards at generating almost any kind of offense you’d like to name, from shots at goal per hour...:

Individual shots taken by the Preds’ skaters and Perry, 2018-19.
Data: naturalstattrick.com. Viz: Bryan Bastin.

...to high-danger chances per hour...:

High-danger chances for the Preds’ skaters and Perry, 2018-19.
Data: naturalstattrick.com. Viz: Bryan Bastin.

...to expected goals per hour...:

Expected goals for the Preds’ skaters and Perry, 2018-19.
Data: naturalstattrick.com. Viz: Bryan Bastin.

...all at even strength, without even addressing his power-play excellence. Even his actual production per hour, even—again—at even strength, wasn’t completely awful, despite playing on a shell of a Ducks team and having just recovered from surgery:

Actual goals for the Preds’ skaters and Perry, 2018-19.
Data: naturalstattrick.com. Viz: Bryan Bastin.

Bryan has some more information here, if you’re not Perry’d out yet.

He’s solid defensively as well, though he suffered from awful luck last season with regards to the Ducks’ shooting and save percentages with him on the ice.

Players who get bought out don’t generally command a salary anything close to their prior salaries. Perry would likely sign for something well under $3M per year, and could plausibly go for under or around $2M. That would be a very reasonable price for the skill he does still bring.

Still, it would be a challenge for many Preds fans to go from gleefully rooting against Perry to cheering their team on while he’s on the ice.

What’s worse, the rumors that the Predators might be interested in adding Perry aren’t the only ones circulating as we head toward the first night of the NHL draft.

Rumor: The Predators might be looking to move P.K. Subban

Bob McKenzie, in general an extremely reliable source, has confirmed earlier rumors that the Predators might be looking to move P.K. Subban in order to clear cap space for pending UFA Matt Duchene, or else—a new wrinkle—to make sure that Roman Josi can be extended.

McKenzie did take care to clarify in a follow-up tweet that there is no guarantee that such a trade will occur at all, but especially tonight. Still, this is yet another escalation of the rumors that Subban might be available to teams looking to upgrade their defense and their market profile.

Elliotte Friedman reports that multiple teams are investigating Subban’s availability, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are not in a very good cap situation, and the Vancouver Canucks, who are not in a very good situation period. The Canucks are supposed to be rebuilding; Subban is the wrong age for their window and they wouldn’t be able to give the Predators young high-skill players in return.

The recent news that the salary cap might be as low as $81.5 million, instead of the $83 million projected just a week or so ago, is no doubt further complicating this issue.

Update: It has been reported on Vancouver sports radio that the Predators would be willing to retain salary to trade Subban.

We’ll get a transcript as soon as possible.


Data from hockeyviz.com and naturalstattrick.com, with thanks to Bryan Bastin for doing the legwork and making the comparative viz.