EDMONTON - They've got three of their own No. 1 draft picks on their roster but it's a former St. Louis Blues first-round selection who has quietly emerged as the Edmonton Oilers' leading scorer.
Edmonton picked up David Perron from St. Louis last summer, and the 2007 first-round selection, despite missing four games with a neck injury, has 12 goals and 25 points for the Oilers (10-18-3, 23 points).
What's more, the 25-year-old is just one of three players on the squad not on the negative side of the plus-minus rating.
"It's only 25-30 games so I don't want to go ahead of schedule," said the native of Sherbrooke, Que. "I want to keep going, keep working hard and help this team.
"I like the way it's going lately with the team and with a lot of the individual play so we have to keep it up."
But Edmonton first-year coach Dallas Eakins said Perron is more than just an offensive player. The Oilers landed Perron from the Blues for Swedish-born forward Magnus Paajarvi and a '14 second-round pick.
"I love his competitiveness," Eakins said. "As much skill as he has, he's got that little bit of nasty in him."
Eakins adds the seven-year veteran has wasted no time becoming a leader in the dressing room. However, the six-foot, 198-pound Perron admits he's frustrated with the Oilers' inconsistent play this season.
"I don't know if it's a roller coaster but that's not the way we're trying to build," said Perron. "I know its frustrating for everybody but we're trying not to get on that roller coaster.
"We're trying to stay on an even keel. We're trying to find that good balance."
That's been difficult for an Edmonton team that's alternated wins with losses over its last eight games. The Oilers continue their five-game homestand Tuesday night hosting the Carolina Hurricanes.
At no time, perhaps, was their inconsistency more evident than their two games last week — a 6-2 loss to Phoenix on Tuesday, then an 8-2 win over Colorado on Thursday. The Oilers followed that up with a 2-1 overtime loss to Calgary and the frustration of being unable to score led to another breakdown in the system that resulted in a lot of unsuccessful individual play.
"I don't know if it's a case of (players) saying it doesn't matter what the system is, I'm going to do it myself but there's just too many turnovers," said Perron, who is third on the team in penalty minutes. "It's probably throughout the year some of these guys are so good it's almost like, and I'm guilty of it once and while also, that you want to show you can take care of the game, you want to step up and be the difference maker.
"I know we want to make plays but we have to be smart and keep plays going."
And that means shooting more rather than trying to make an abundance of fancy passes. Perron has taken a team-high 98 shots so that wouldn't appear to be an issue for him.
"My first two years when Andy Murray was my coach (in St. Louis), he was saying 'You're selfish when you don't shoot the puck because the team needs you to shoot the puck,' " said Perron. "The first couple of years I was like, what is he talking about?
"But sometimes it does make sense. When you overpass it when you have a lane to shoot, what's the point? You have to put it there (on net)."
Perron scored 13, 15 and 20 goals his first three NHL campaigns before injuries restricted him to just 115 games from 2010 to '13. Still, he had a career-best 21 goals in 57 contests with the Blues in 2011-12.
Perron said while many of the young Oilers are great playmakers, they also have greats shots that they don't make enough use of.
"When (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) has the puck and he's on a 2-on-1, I know he's going to try to make a play," Perron said. "But if he sees something he has to try to go for it."