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Canadiens Matheson Emerging As Leader, Petry On Trade Market



Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes waited until he felt he could get the right kind of return for Jeff Petry, and that patience is paying dividends today.

When the Canadiens announced they had shipped off Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Mike Matheson and a 2023 4th-round pick, the reaction was that of cautious optimism.

At the time, there was skepticism that Hughes could move Petry, who holds a $6.25M for another two seasons beyond this one and a modified 15-team No-Trade clause.

However, his patience paid off, as Matheson’s impact on the Montreal Canadiens, health permitting, has been notable so far this season and improving as of late.

Meanwhile, the Penguins, albeit satisfied with Petry’s play, may need to sacrifice their big summer acquisition in order to gain some financial flexibility.

Here’s how things are going today:

Matheson Emerging As Leader

Although Matheson’s start to the season began with a two-month absence due to a mysterious lower-body injury, his impact on the ice was felt immediately upon his return.

His combination of speed and puck-carrying ability make him one of the most unique defencemen on the Montreal Canadiens; a style that perfectly fits the style that head coach Martin St. Louis wants to play.

But even St-Louis, who had heard of Matheson, but hadn’t seen him play up close, has come away impressed with the 28-year-old’s skating ability.

“I knew he was a good skater, but I didn’t know he was this good of a skater,” said St-Louis after the Canadiens’ victory over the Blackhawks last week.

The fact that Matheson has been able to seamlessly fit into the Canadiens’ lineup and play big minutes is nothing short of impressive, especially when you factor in the discrepancies in style between Montreal and Pittsburgh.

His 14 points in just 23 games (three goals and 11 assists) make him the most productive defenceman on the team, with a 0.61 points percentage.

He also leads the Canadiens in average ice time with 23:42, but has seen his minutes significantly increase as of late; playing north of 27 minutes on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils.

His point total would likely be more impressive had he not been forced to sit out 30 games this season due to a lingering lower-body injury.


His elite skating ability has also greatly helped the Canadiens in transition, as he can execute clean zone exits and zone entries at will and maintain possession of the puck to make more plays.

Of late, Matheson has taken on more of a mentor role with 21-year-old Justin Barron, who is thriving next to the veteran defender.

The former 1st-round pick in 2020 has played some of his best hockey next to Matheson, whose experience and quick feet have allowed him to properly support Barron on transition; allowing the youngster to venture deeper in the offensive zone and convert on more plays.

The pairing has quickly become the most effective and visually satisfying; and giving Canadiens fans a glimpse of things to come in the not-so-distant future.

With a $4.875M cap hit for another three seasons, the 28-year-old is far from the potential albatross that his worst critics had labelled him at the time of the trade way back in July; in fact, he’s looking like quite the bargain of late.


As the Canadiens continue to build up their young defence over the next few years, Matheson is likely the kind of veteran they’d look to keep around; owning a strong gravitas and appreciation for the local market of Montreal.

Petry Back On Trade Market

Although the Pittsburgh Penguins initially saw Jeff Petry as the perfect complement to their defensive corps this summer, things can change rapidly in hockey.

The 35-year-old has reportedly been made available on the NHL trade market, according to Pittsburgh Hockey Now‘s Dan Kingerski.

It’s not that Petry has necessarily played poorly with the Penguins, putting up three goals and 16 assists for 19 points in 40 games, but more a question of needs at other positions.

Petry has, in fact, been one of the better Penguins this year in terms of underlying numbers, leading Pittsburgh in controlled shots rates (53%), while posting an impressive expected goals differential (54.8%).

Granted, those numbers will generally look good playing with the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, two exceptional even-strength players, but Petry has more than held his own.

However, his $6.5M cap hit, which is second only to Crosby’s $8.7M cap hit, weighs heavily on the Penguins’ cap structure. It’s the main reason the Penguins are looking to move him, as they want to free up space to improve their centre depth and add some scoring punch.

That being said, as Hughes experienced last season, general manager Ron Hextall may need to arm himself with patience in order to find the right fit, especially given Petry’s No-Trade clause.


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Ignore Tyrone’s babble about trading Matheson for 2 first rounders (his nonsense, not mine) and keep Matheson. As stated he is allowing Barron and whomever else gets to play with him the room they need to grow and he also shows them how to do it. His value is measured in a lot more than just points.

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