Montreal Canadiens: Jeff Petry Contract a Bargain Compared to Similar Players

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 08: Jeff Petry #26 of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 08: Jeff Petry #26 of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens re-signed Jeff Petry. When looking around the league, Petry’s contract looks like a bargain.

The Montreal Canadiens have a lot of contracts to sort out before the end of next season. Their entire first line of Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents following the 2020-21 season.

Jeff Petry was too, but general manager Marc Bergevin took care of that business well ahead of time.

Not only did he take care of business early, he seems to have gotten a pretty good bargain on Petry’s contract. The right defenceman has one year left on his current deal at $5.5 million. When that is up, he will earn $6.25 for the following four years after putting pen to paper on a $25 million extension.

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When Petry signed the six year deal with a $5.5. million cap hit, he was coming off a season where he scored 22 points in 78 games. He was playing a top four role, but wasn’t offering much offence at the time. His current contract was signed in 2015 when the cap was $69 million. Petry’s cap hit took up 7.97% of the cap at the time.

When Petry’s new deal kicks in, the cap will likely still be sitting at $81.5 million. His $6.25 million cap hit will take up 7.67% of the cap. So, he is getting a raise, but he is actually going to take up less on the salary cap pie available to the Canadiens.

That’s after becoming a dangerous threat offensively while still taking on a big role defensively. In the past three seasons, Petry ranks 11th in goals by a defenceman and 17th in points. He is one of the few defenders around the league who have scored ten goals and 40 points each of those years.

There are other defencemen who signed recently that got far more term, or bigger cap hits. Many of these guys can’t even pretend to be as valuable as Petry. And the one’s that are, will be paid big money for much longer.

Jared Spurgeon is an undersized defender for the Minnesota Wild who has proven to be a valuable top pairing defenceman. He is a right shot and has steadily improved over the past several years. He signed a seven-year extension in 2019 with the Wild that has a $7.575 million cap hit. He had 14 goals and 43 points before signing the extension. That contract kicks in next year and Spurgeon will turn 31 before the season begins.

Tyler Myers hit the free agent market last July. He was coming off a season where he was often relegated to third pairing duty at even strength behind Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba. He did play some special teams minutes as well and is a giant on ice. He had nine goals and 31 points before becoming a free agent and signed a five-year deal with a $6 million cap hit. Anyone in hockey would take Petry over Myers regardless of contract, but getting Petry at a few extra dollars and less term is a big win for the Habs.

Ryan McDonagh was brought in to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the end of the 2017-18 season to play a second pairing role behind Victor Hedman. He finished the season with three points in 14 game for the Lightning and had five assists in 17 playoff contests. He then signed a seven-year contract extension with a $6.75 million cap hit that wouldn’t kick in for another year. He just played the first year of that new contract and scored 12 points in 50 games. He’s 31 years old and has six years left on that deal.

Kevin Shattenkirk signed for the same term as Petry when he hit free agency in 2017. He had 56 points that season which is more than Petry’s best, but everyone knew Shattenkirk struggled in his own zone. He had a cap hit of $6.65 million until it was bought out two years later.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic doesn’t bring a lick of offence to the table but he was known as a shutdown specialist. A year before he could become a free agent, the San Jose Sharks gave him an eight-year extension with a $7 million cap hit. This contract started three years before Petry’s new one and it still ties Vlasic to the Sharks longer than Petry will be under contract with the Habs.

Term is the biggest killer on these contracts. Teams can survive overpaying a player for two years, but when the term is eight years and it starts to look bad in year one or two, the franchise is chained to that player and there is no escape.

Looking at comparable contracts over the past few years, I thought Petry would get at least five years and between $6.5 – 7 million. The Canadiens didn’t get a huge discount on the annual salary, but they did get a bargain on the term.

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Petry plays an important role on the Habs and will continue to do so for a few more years. This contract guarantees there won’t be years of regret on the back end of his next contract.