The Montreal Canadiens have traded Jeff Petry, along with Ryan Poehling, in a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins for hometown boy Michael Matheson and a 2023 4th-round pick.
The Montreal Canadiens were finally able to find their veteran defenceman a new home, all while gaining some much-needed flexibility under the salary cap. Although the return may seem underwhelming at first glance, the Montreal Canadiens were able to secure a top-4 defenceman that could play on the powerplay and provide some much-needed offensive punch and top-end skating to their brigade. Jeff Petry’s contract holds a Cap hit of $6.25M over the next three years, while the 28-year-old Michael Matheson‘s contract holds a $4.875M cap hit for another four seasons. The Canadiens were able to save approximately $1.375M on their cap for next season, while bringing an offensive defenseman capable of playing in offensive situations.
Matheson may seem like an underwhelming return to fans who remember him from his Florida days, but many around the league believe this is an underrated acquisition for the Montreal Canadiens, as Matheson plays a style the Canadiens wish to emulate. He has improved a great deal since his time in Pittsburgh, sometimes playing on the top pair with Kris Letang, but being consistently used in a top-4 role by coach Mike Sullivan. The Pointe-Claire native will have the chance to show his improvement on a bigger stage in Montreal, but will need to cover the defensive side of the game to ensure he gets consistent minutes from Martin St. Louis.
Ryan Poehling, the Montreal Canadiens’ 1st round pick in 2017, was also included in the deal, as he didn’t look like he was in Montreal’s plans moving forward. The 23-year-old seemed to have been edged out of the centre by Jake Evans and the recent acquisition of Kirby Dach, and the Montreal Canadiens decided to offer him a fresh start with another club that has a need for young centres in their system. The Montreal Canadiens also received a 2023 4th-round pick, giving them 11 picks for the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft.
After a difficult start to the season, Jeff Petry had not only risen back to form offensively under St. Louis, he even surpassed his offensive scoring pace from years passed since the coaching change and has been one of the most productive players on the team in that span. Petry’s most productive seasons with the Montreal Canadiens came during the last four seasons (2017-2018 to 2020-2021), as the veteran blueliner put up four straight 40-pt seasons during his time with the team. His average points per game during that span was 0.59 while playing an average of 23 minutes per game on much better offensive teams. He will fit in nicely with Pittsburgh core and their style of play.