Canadiens Clear Winners In Mike Matheson and Jeff Petry Trade
The 2022-23 season is over for the Montreal Canadiens, which gives us a perfect opportunity to judge some of the trades made by general manager Kent Hughes.
And though Hughes has already pulled off a fair amount of impressive deals, including turning Alexander Romanov into Kirby Dach, as well as getting paid a first-round pick to acquire Sean Monahan for free, there’s one trade in particular that may end up playing the biggest part in the rebuild: acquiring Mike Matheson in exchange for Jeff Petry.
The deal between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Canadiens was not a one-for-one trade
The Penguins ponied up an extra fourth-round pick (2023), and in exchange, the Canadiens added struggling prospect Ryan Poehling to the deal.
With seven goals and seven assists in 53 games for the Penguins, it’s safe to say the Canadiens did not risk much when they unceremoniously traded their 2017 first-round pick. Poehling’s underlying numbers continue to be middling at best, which is rather concerning because he’s supposed to be in the midst of his statistical prime.
As for the financials, the Canadiens made out like bandits.
Not only did they acquire the best player in the trade, more on that later, but they also opened up $2.125 million in salary cap space, which enabled them to absorb Monahan’s contract, and consequently, add another first-round pick to their rebuilding cupboard.
By The Numbers
Petry did not leave the Canadiens organization on the best of terms, which only adds to Hughes’ win in this trade, considering the rookie general manager did not have very much leverage to work with.
And it also made Canadiens fans quickly forget just how dominant Petry had played for the better part of a decade.
Or perhaps it was Matheson that erased the memories, seeing as he jumped into the lineup and rapidly took over Petry’s marching orders, which involve playing an ungodly amount of ice time every night, in every situation.
Despite only featuring in 48 games, Matheson led all Canadiens defencemen in goals, assists, points, and shots at 5v5.
It’s also worth noting he finished with nine powerplay points, seven of which were primary assists, leaving him one point short of Cole Caufield’s powerplay production this season.
Matheson dangles through the Panthers PK and tees up Rem Pitlick for a power play goal.
9-5 in Sunrise right now. pic.twitter.com/Je8zl3VWKW
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 17, 2023
He isn’t making the same type of impact as Petry when it comes to possession numbers, at least not yet. It’s worth keeping in mind Petry didn’t flourish until year two of his tenure with the Montreal Canadiens.
Matheson’s underlying numbers were relatively encouraging, especially since he was playing heavy minutes against top competition on a team that, frankly, was awful.
But when Matheson was on the ice, things were a little different.
Matheson, along with Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach, is an essential part of head coach Martin St-Louis’ ideal style of play, which puts an onus on creativity and good offensive instincts, two things Matheson has in spades.
Mike Matheson just out for a rip, and teaches Marc Staal a harsh lesson. pic.twitter.com/ECzExFmdvg
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) March 31, 2023
His quick emergence as the team’s best defenceman also allowed St-Louis to make life easier on the numerous rookies populating his blueline by following the advice of the Rolling Stones and giving them a little more shelter.
However, the most important acquisition in the trade comes down to Matheson and Petry’s values as hockey assets.
At 35 years old, Petry is still doing a good job of defying father time, but his best years are clearly behind him, whereas Matheson, 29, shouldn’t see a significant decline in his results for another few seasons.
Simply put, Matheson is younger, faster, cheaper, and produced more points playing on a team that suffered roughly seven thousand injuries than Petry did on a team that features Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
There’s no doubt about it, the trade was a clear-cut win for Hughes and the Canadiens.
All that’s left to calculate is exactly how badly Hughes swindled Ron Hextall, but for that, we’ll need to wait another few years, because Matheson and the Canadiens are still running up the score.
All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick.
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Good article. However, adding Monahan had nothing to do with the cap savings from this trade…we could only add Monahan because Price went to LTIR later on the summer.
I wasn’t a fan at all of the trade when it first happened, but Matheson definitely won me over with his play once healthy. I think you’ll hear his name mentioned in Norris trophy talk before his contract expires with the Canadiens. Another added benefit with having Matheson is he’s made both Edmundson and Savard expendable imo. He’s an excellent leader by example of the style of D core HuGo are wanting to see. With the emergence of Matheson and the kids this season, we can try to move Edmundson, Savard and Wideman to free up some of the log jam on defence. Whether that’s possible or not remains to be seen. Perhaps we’ll see these guys packaged with other assets like picks and prospects that management have also deemed unnecessary moving forward. With all the extra bodies and all the kids waiting in the wings, there could (and should) be a lot of movement in Montreal this summer.
Matheson surprised me. Happy to have him.
But if that trade doesn’t happen, do the Habs finish lower in the standings AND do the Pens do better, leaving FLA outside of the playoffs, so 2 (potentially) higher picks? I know there is no point in actually dissecting that cuz it’s impossible to know. But interesting to wonder about.
Well done on your take on Matheson and where he should be a valuable Hab for years to come . Other sites seem to think that having players in this age range is a problem in a rebuild . Some of the leaders again this playoff are 35 plus . Burns , Perry , Zuccarello , Kopitar etc.
You can’t have an entire team of 22 year olds. You still need experience to help the team and show the youngsters the way. Now if we had a lot of 35 year olds on a rebuilding team, that would not be good. Heck, the Pens having a bunch of them was a disaster.
Ps, Can the Pens just hand us Crosby if habs don’t win the lottery?? We have Dvorak as part of a package who is quite younger to deal the other way.
Agreed. You can’t have a team of 22 year olds and too many 35 plus isn’t the answer either. Winning teams however have veteran lineups as a rule as we saw last year when the Avs and Lightning had 13 players between the age of 31- 35 between them .
Regarding the trading of Poehling one of endless failed 1st Rd picks why do the Habs have such an abysmal track record with 1st rd picks?
Phoeling was a late first. And that happens. You just can’t miss on the top 10 picks. He still made the nhl so that’s something.