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Montreal Canadiens Have Many Options For Jeff Petry’s Future

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Montreal canadiens jeff Petry

Now that the dust from the Jeff Petry/Erik Karlsson trade has settled, it’s time to evaluate some of the options for the Montreal Canadiens going forward.

On the surface, the mere fact that the Canadiens have not mentioned Petry other than in the original press release has led many to believe there’s an impending trade.

Of course, it could very well be that the majority of the Canadiens staff is currently taking some well-deserved vacation time, or that general manager Kent Hughes is not done cooking, but for now, Petry is once again a member of the Canadiens, leaving the team with several possibilities as to his future with the franchise.

Retention Angle

Seeing as Petry’s salary already involves a 25 percent retention by the Pittsburgh Penguins, he will only account for $4.689 million of the salary cap, rather than his original $6.25 million salary cap hit.

That alone makes Petry a much more interesting proposal for teams looking to improve their defensive depth.

Add to it the possibility of retaining more salary, and Petry suddenly becomes a very interesting trade chip.

If the Canadiens retain 25 percent of his salary, his value becomes very clear. If they choose to retain 50 percent, suddenly he becomes an incredibly valuable NHL defenceman due to his $2.35 million cap hit.

Now, I can already hear some Canadiens fans scoffing when I mention his value, but let’s be clear: the rumours of Jeff Petry’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

There’s no doubt his numbers under Dominique Ducharme were rough. But that was the case for the entire roster, not just Petry.

Consider this: while coached by Dominique Ducharme, Petry managed to control 49.3 percent of the shots, 41.8 percent of the goals, 46.8 percent of the expected goals, and 45.1 percent of the high-danger chances. Those are terrible numbers by Petry’s standards, and yet, sadly, they were still among the best numbers produced by defencemen during Ducharme’s tenure.

Once Martin St-Louis took the helm, Petry controlled roughly the same amount of shots, though he did enjoy a slight increase (50.2 percent). Beyond the shots, things changed significantly. With Petry on ice, the Habs had a 54.6 percent advantage in goals, a 53.1 percent advantage in expected goals, and a 51.2 percent advantage in high-danger chances.

In fact, the pairing featuring Petry and Bret Kulak was far and away the only efficient duo for Martin St-Louis to close out the 2021-22 season, one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

Just in case you’re wondering, Petry did not forget how to play hockey once he arrived in Pittsburgh. His underlying numbers were, as per usual, quite good.

He’s not the dominant force he once was, and his decision-making is questionable at times, but he still brings a lot to the table when evaluating his on-ice results.

If we’re staying true to the numbers, logically, the Canadiens should not have to retain any money whatsoever when it comes to trading Petry.

Pump And Dump

If for some reason the Montreal Canadiens cannot find any suitors without retaining salary, keeping Petry in the lineup is also a feasible option.

He would improve the team’s game in transition while also providing a solid partner for many of the young defencemen developing on the left side of the ice. In addition, it gives right-handed defencemen such as Justin Barron and Logan Mailloux a little more time to improve upon their weaknesses in a pressure-free environment before their permanent ascension to the NHL.

The greatest benefit, however, would come in the lead-up to the 2024 NHL trade deadline.

By then, his salary cap hit will be inconsequential, essentially ensuring that every single team looking to bolster their blueline prior to the playoffs could afford to add someone Petry to their lineup.

Teams tend to pay a premium for right-handed defencemen, one of the hottest commodities in the NHL.

Hold Onto Petry Indefinitely

In the worst-case scenario, the Montreal Canadiens will not be able to move Petry, which means they will have to keep him in the lineup for longer than expected.

And that’s perfectly fine.

He will surely help players like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Alex Newhook, and Kirby Dach improve their production, and he’d be able to help shoulder the overall workload with fellow veteran Mike Matheson while also alleviating the pressure on younger defencemen.

Ideally, the Canadiens can quickly come to an agreement with another team that’s willing to pay a decent price to acquire Petry, but if there are no takers they can pivot and play it by ear, giving Hughes more time to work out a potential trade.

And as we’ve seen, historically speaking, that usually leads to a healthy outcome for the franchise.


All Montreal Canadiens statistics via NaturalStatTrick

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Peter

Even if Montreal has to wait until next season’s trade deadline – I think that is when the return will be highest barring any crippling injury.

James

Haven’t heard a peep from Jeff anywhere in the media: Pittsburgh, Montreal or social. Would be nice to get his take.

John Smith

A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush- I think that’s the expression. Whatever, the last thing that Montreal should do is hold onto Jeff Petry until the trade deadline. They run the risk of another Joel Edmundson scenario. The Habs are better off trading Petry now for lesser potential return. Getting something instead of potentially nothing is a safer option.

I’m surprised that Geoff Molson is not looking at this acquisition from a dollars and cents perspective. $4.689 per year for someone who might at best land a low second round pick seems a bit too costly a venture. Molson and his consortium are better off taking Jeff Petry’s salary off the books.

Alex Barrette

At the trade deadline he will fetch atleast a 1st rounder if habs retain half salary.

Darryl

Molsons can afford to stay at the cap max forever and respectfully you are missing part of the equation here. Taking on Petry already got them a 2nd, a backup goalie, a young prospect from Montreal and they were able to get rid of Hoffman making room for prospects. This was a win that keeps on giving.

Tyrone

I think there’s zero chance he plays in Montreal. Yes, the return would be better waiting until the deadline, but the reality is Petry & his family were subjected to some awful treatment by a certain segment of the fan base and media. That alone is enough to guarantee he’s not coming here. Throw in everything that has happened since the trade (absolute silence from HuGo with regards to Petry) and it just supports the simple reality of him being traded prior to the season beginning. All that is happening right now is HuGo are lining up all their possibilities for trade options and evaluating the returns vs the other factors involved. As the Hoffman trade showed, they’d like to not have to retain salary. Of course, that means a lesser return. So, HuGo are also evaluating the increased returns they’d get on a sliding scale for the % of Petry’s salary retained. If Petry only had 1yr left on his contract, I think it would be 50% and the trade would likely already be completed. That 2nd year of salary retention is probably what’s giving them pause for thought on whether they retain lesser or any salary and therefore settle for a lesser return.

Robin

In my opinion Kent Hughes is doing a very good job, but I think we are being premature in our great praise for him. We should wait for positive results to occur before praising. him. We still do not know for sure if the Hughes-Gorton era will be successful, so we should not go overboard in our praise for them.

Ghg55

The goal is to rebuild. They have stockpiled a ton of young talent and picks. That’s the job right now and they’re doing exactly what they need to do. That’s more than enough cause for praise. Yes, winning the cup is the long term goal, but there are other goals that need to be achieved along the way and we can praise them for doing so.