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Can And Will The Canadiens Trade Defenseman Jeff Petry?

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Montreal Canadiens

If Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry was willing to waive his modified no-movement and no-trade clauses, there appear to be teams on the NHL trade market for the Habs defenseman despite his contract.

“For sure there’s a market for him,” one NHL executive scout told Montreal Hockey Now on Saturday.

After one of the best seasons of his career in 2021 and helping the Montreal Canadiens go on a Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Final – despite a broken pinky finger – Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry has had a season to forget so far this season. Coming off a season in which he lit the lamp 12 times and had 30 assists while finishing at a plus 6 in 55 games, Petry has one goal and three assists in 32 games this season.

Despite the fact that the 34-year-old Petry is in the midst of one of his worst seasons and is only in the first year of a four-year contract that carries a $6.5 million salary-cap hit, this NHL exec said he has already spoken to other NHL exec’s that spoke of their interest in Petry and if he can start to play like he did last season and in the past, he could be moved by the March 21 NHL trade deadline.

“There’s interest out there. He could really help a team that needs a d-man that creates offense and brings leadership,” the source said. “I realize he’s struggling this season but who isn’t in Montreal. It’s just one of those seasons. I know the Red Wings had interest back before he ended up re-signing with the Canadiens. Look at the cap space they have. There are other teams too.”

Petry is an Ann Arbor, Michigan native, grew up a Red Wings fan, and went to Michigan State. The Red Wings currently have $21.3 million in cap space and have three defensemen set to become unrestricted free agents in July, if they don’t trade one or all of them before the March 21 NHL Trade Deadline. Interestingly enough, when Petry returned to Montreal after a two-week hiatus with COVID back in his native Michigan, he didn’t return with his wife Julie, and three young boys, leaving them behind due to the COVID restrictions in Montreal and with the team.

“Difficult decisions aren’t easy, but sometimes they are necessary for your health & family’s well-being!” Julie wrote on her Instagram account, along with a photo of her and the three boys. “Sometimes it takes a leap & a close circle of support to go forward with said decision in order to prioritize your mental health & that of your families for the time being. With that, I am thinking of all the families, individuals & small businesses in QC right now that are facing heavy challenges & will continue to pray that things turn around sooner rather than later.”

McLean's Pub

Earlier in the season, Petry’s frustration over the rough start boiled over after a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 14 and he made a statement that most interpreted as a shot at Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme.

“It seems like we’re always looking for where everyone else is. It’s as if we don’t have any structure on the ice,” a ticked-off Petry said at the time.

Both Petry and Ducharme have since reassured the media that their relationship is fine but if he decided he wants out of Montreal and the team closest to his family, the Red Wings are interested, would Petry be willing to work with Hughes and executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton to facilitate a trade?

In the coming week to two weeks, new Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes plans to talk to as many of his players as he can to get a feel of where they and the team stand with their future playing with the Canadiens. Due to salary cap restrictions and COVID for basically every team, Hughes isn’t expecting the NHL trade market to heat up just yet.

“I think Jeff had teams reach out, I’ve had a couple of teams reach out,” Hughes told TSN 690 on Friday. “We’re sharing information, and the reality too in the National Hockey League right now is that there are so many teams, especially the teams that are competing here that are at the top of the standings, with COVID and everything else, most of them have cap issues. So, there haven’t been a lot of substantial trades to this date and I think just the cap flexibility that comes with waiting a little bit longer for a lot of these teams taking on a lot of salaries is relevant. The timing of it all is to be determined. We need to, and me specifically, need to get to know all these players a lot better before we venture down that path.”

Whether Petry is part of the path forward or path out of Montreal is yet to be seen, but it appears, he and the Habs have options on the NHL trade market.

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