The Detroit Red Wings have acquired defenseman Jeff Petry from the Montreal Canadiens just days after Montreal re-acquired him from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the three-team Erik Karlsson blockbuster, according to a team release. Montreal receives defenseman Gustav Lindström and a 2025 conditional fourth-round pick in return.
Montreal is retaining an additional 50% of Petry’s salary in the trade, bringing his cap hit with Detroit down to $2.34MM. CapFriendly reports Montreal will receive the later of Detroit’s or the Boston Bruins’ 2025 fourth-round picks, both of which Detroit currently owns.
This is an expected move, although most reporting indicated Canadiens GM Kent Hughes would wait a little longer to hit send on a deal. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reported immediately after the Karlsson trade went through that Montreal was going to flip Petry again with salary retained but didn’t think the move would happen until closer to training camps and the start of the regular season. It also marks a return home for Petry, who was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and played college hockey at Michigan State.
Petry, 35, had a decent lone season in Pittsburgh last year but wasn’t quite worth the $6.25MM he was costing them against the cap. He finished the year with five goals, 26 assists, 31 points, and a +2 rating in 61 games, a slight rebound from the 2021-22 campaign in Montreal. He once again logged heavy minutes, averaging 22:21 per game.
However, at his age, the chances of Petry producing the 40-plus point campaigns with solid defensive metrics he was known for in Montreal are slim. $2.34MM is quite a manageable number for his services, though, and he still has the potential to challenge Justin Holl for the second-pair right defenseman slot behind undisputed number-one Moritz Seider. Detroit hopes he can at least keep up NHL-caliber play for the next two seasons until his contract expires in 2025, avoiding too sharp of an age-related decline.
Aside from their top pairing of Seider and Jake Walman, Detroit’s depth defense was quite weak last season when it came to controlling possession. While he isn’t a shutdown defender by any stretch, Petry isn’t a liability either, and he should help improve possession numbers for Detroit’s second or third pairing marginally. Adding Petry into the fold also gives Detroit the option to bench Ben Chiarot, who had a disastrous first campaign with Detroit after signing a four-year, $19MM contract with trade protection in free agency last summer – a deal that’s quickly looking like an albatross.
Some are likely questioning this move, given Detroit’s now added a trio of NHL defensemen this offseason and have blocked a potential lineup spot for 2021 sixth-overall pick Simon Edvinsson. However, the 20-year-old defender likely won’t be ready to start the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in May, and without participating in training camp, starting the season with AHL Grand Rapids again isn’t the worst idea. With Detroit evidently looking to challenge for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division in 2023-24, Petry is a significant upgrade over Chiarot if that’s the lineup swap head coach Derek Lalonde chooses to make.
In Lindström, the Canadiens receive a young depth defenseman still trying to demonstrate he can give an NHL team reliable minutes. Detroit selected the 24-year-old 38th overall in 2017, and he’s gotten into 128 NHL games since then over the course of the past four seasons. Last season, he recorded a goal and eight points in 36 games, along with a -16 rating. The Red Wings signed him to a one-year, one-way deal worth $950K earlier this offseason, and he’s slated to be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in the summer of 2024.
As CapFriendly notes, this was a significant step for Montreal to become cap-compliant next season without sticking netminder Carey Price’s $10.5MM cap hit on LTIR.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.