Corey Perry joins the Oilers, is back in the NHL after the Blackhawks terminated his contract

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Edmonton Oilers agreed to terms Monday with Corey Perry on a contract for the remainder of the season, adding the veteran winger to the hottest team in the NHL nearly two months since the Chicago Blackhawks terminated his contract for unacceptable conduct.

Perry, 38, is getting a deal for a pro-rated league minimum $775,000 plus performance bonuses. He has already joined the team for practice, and general manager Ken Holland said the organization is aiming for Perry to make his debut Saturday against Nashville.

Neither the team nor Perry revealed details of exactly what occurred to lead to the termination. He and the Players' Association have until next week to decide whether to file a grievance to recoup some of the money.

Perry declined to answer when asked if he would file a grievance or to shed any more light on what happened with the Blackhawks. At a news conference with Holland, he thanked friends, family and counselors for their assistance over the past two months.

“I really had a chance to reflect and get the help and take full responsibility for what happened in Chicago and try to better myself,” Perry said. “From where I was two months ago to where I am today, it’s been a world of difference — the help I’ve gotten and from where I’ve come from.”

Perry apologized in late December and said he was seeking help for alcohol abuse. He recently met with commissioner Gary Bettman but was never prohibited by the league to sign with another club.

“When everything happened and my contract was terminated, I didn’t know where things were going to go, so at first I took care of myself,” Perry said. “That was at the front of it is take care of yourself, get yourself in a better position and move on from there.”

Holland said he spoke with Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson about Perry, who also had a handful of other teams interested in signing him, and came away willing to sign him.

A Stanley Cup champion with Anaheim in 2007 and two-time Olympic gold medalist for Canada in 2010 then 2014, Perry is in his 19th season. He reached the Cup Final three years in a row with three different teams from 2020-22.

“You’re trying to make the team better,” said Holland, who got to know Perry a bit at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. “We’re adding a player that, in my opinion, plays playoff hockey: greasy, gritty, dirty, heavy on the puck down low.”

The Oilers have won 13 games in a row, a record among teams based in Canada. They're 23-6 since firing coach Jay Woodcroft and replacing him with Kris Knoblauch, vaulting from near the bottom of the standings to third place in the Pacific Division and on track to make the playoffs.

“When you have a 6-year-old kid and you have Connor McDavid on the team, you kind of follow the Edmonton Oilers,” Perry said. “This team’s going in the right direction and not just because they’ve won 13 games in a row, but you can see where they’re going and their mindset and the vision they have that they want to win a Stanley Cup here.”

Perry's contract can be registered with the league on Tuesday when Adam Erne clears waivers or is claimed by another team because the Oilers did not have enough cap space Monday. This is the latest move they're making to try to win the franchise's first championship since 1990 but may not be the last before the March 8 trade deadline.

“We’re on a great run, but we’re going to lose some games here,” Holland said. “It’s the National Hockey League and there’s 40 games to go. Today I think we got our team better, deeper, bigger, stronger, more competitive.”