Montreal Canadiens: What Is Jeff Petry’s Trade Value?

Apr 21, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Jeff Petry. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens Jeff Petry. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes made a big trade when he shipped out the contract of Shea Weber to the Vegas Golden Knights for veteran winger Evgeni Dadonov. By all accounts he is far from done.

Another player rumoured to be heading out of town soon is Jeff Petry. The veteran right-shot defender was brought in seven years ago for second and fifth round picks and has far outplayed that value during his time with the Canadiens.

Petry got better every season until he scored 12 goals and 42 points in just 55 games in the shortened 2020-21 season. In the four seasons from 2017-21, Petry scored 48 goals and 170 points. This ranked 7th in goal scoring among defensemen and 12th in points in that time.

Then came the 2021-22 season. Petry was flat out awful for most of the year. He couldn’t get a point, he looked horrible defensively and he didn’t seem to care whether the puck got out of his zone or not. He was overmatched almost every night and his four-year contract with a cap hit of $6.25 million looked like it had the weight of a piano on his back ever shift.

It was hardly a raise from the $5.5 million he made in the previous six seasons, but something was way off in 2021-22.

As it turned out, he had asked to be traded because his family chose to stay in Michigan for the season instead of returning to Canada and dealing with the Covid travel complications and constant lockdowns in Quebec. So Petry wanted out.

It also turned out that the coach and his tactics didn’t last long. Dominque Ducharme looked a genius behind the bench as the Canadiens went to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final but he had no answers in 2021-22. He was fired in early February.

Once new head coach Martin St. Louis arrived, it was like the old Jeff Petry came with him. That two-way right shot defender who played big minutes in all situations returned, and the imposter who couldn’t string two passes together in the early portion of the season disappeared.

Maybe it was the new coach and maybe it was the fact the trade deadline passed and he knew he wasn’t going anywhere. Perhaps it was a little bit of both. Whatever the case, Petry was able to put a rough few months behind him and started playing great hockey again.

The 34 year old had an impossible six points in his first 40 games of the season. But then he finished with 21 points in his last 28 games. That’s a 60 point pace over a full season.

Now, with his name on the trade block, the question is what is his trade value? If it wasn’t for that awful 40 game stretch he would be worth an arm and a leg. Two-way right shot defenders who score nearly 60 points are nearly impossible to find. Teams would be lining up a mile long to try and acquire that player.

His age and the three years left on his contract wouldn’t be a problem at all since a $6.25 million price tag is more than fair for one of the top scoring defencemen in the game.

But that miserable half season hangs over Petry like a guillotine. If that player returns next season, the team that acquires him just wasted significant cap space for three seasons.

The potential reward for acquiring Petry is extremely high. In the highly likely scenario that 50-point Petry returns next season, whatever team has him just added an excellent #3 defender. That is worth a ton on the trade market.

But there is the small risk that the 40-game anomaly from the beginning of this most recent season becomes the norm. That is where the three year term becomes a huge problem.

But it only takes one team to take that risk. So the Habs would be right to hold a high value on Petry. It is difficult to find comparisons for a Petry trade because defencemen at this age with this much term don’t often get traded.

However, Duncan Keith was dealt from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Edmonton Oilers last season for a conditional third round pick that would have become a second if Edmonton made the Stanley Cup Final, and depth defender Caleb Jones.

Keith was well past his prime at 38 years old had two years left with a cap hit just under $6 million. But he also had two full seasons of play that were far below his best years. Petry had half of one that he bounced back from already.

P.K. Subban was dealt from the Nashville Predators to the New Jersey Devils after one down season. The Preds netted a pair of second round picks as well as a couple of depth prospects in Jeremy Davies and Steve Santini.

Subban was younger at 30, but had a $9 million cap hit. The Canadiens could likely get something similar to that package in return for Petry. Maybe not two second round picks, but a second rounder and a third round pick or a second round pick and a good but not fantastic prospect.

If the rumours are true and five or six teams are calling about Petry, Hughes would be wise to set a high price and wait for some to meet it. For a while it looked like it would be impossible to trade Petry with his poor play and big contract. But after his strong finish, nothing less than a second round pick and a good prospect would be enough to entice Hughes to trade Petry.

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