The Montreal Canadiens re-acquired defenseman Jeff Petry last weekend at 75% of his $6.25MM cap hit as part of the blockbuster Erik Karlsson trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks. However, this homecoming of sorts for Petry is likely to be short-lived, as Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reported immediately after the trade was announced that the Canadiens could be looking to move him once again. With the ability to retain an additional 50% of his cap hit, Montreal is positioning itself to facilitate a potential trade during training camp or early in the regular season.
While few teams would have interest in a 35-year-old defender making more than $6MM against the cap, Petry is certain to have plenty of market interest at a reduced price of $2.34MM until 2025, the lowest Montreal can bring him down to through retaining salary. As Chris Johnston of NorthStar Bets and SDPN noted on an episode of his podcast earlier this week, it makes sense Montreal would be willing to facilitate a deal. There’s a strong history between the player and team here – Petry played just over 500 games in a Canadiens uniform over parts of eight seasons, tallying 70 goals, 178 assists, 248 points, and averaging 22:42 per game. Montreal honored his trade request last summer, too, shipping him to a team thought to be playoff-caliber at the time.
Obviously, it didn’t quite pan out. Petry himself had an acceptable season for his role, scoring five goals, 26 assists and 31 points in 61 games and posting respectable possession metrics with a 51.5% Corsi for at even strength. Still, he was part of a quickly-aging core in Pittsburgh that sputtered last season, especially when it came to depth scoring. The Penguins missed out on postseason play for the first time since 2006 because of it, and only the second time while Sidney Crosby’s been a member of the team.
That being said, Petry is still a good second-pairing defender and an excellent third-pairing option if his next team shelters his minutes further. The right-shot can routinely produce upwards of 40 points in a full season and, while he’s far from a shutdown defender, isn’t a liability in his own zone.
Per Johnston, the Dallas Stars are likely to emerge as a fit for his services. They’ve had rumored interest in Petry at multiple points over the past couple of seasons, and they’d been reportedly looking to add on defense earlier in the offseason to no avail. Like most other teams looking to contend for the Stanley Cup next season, though, it would require a fair amount of cap gymnastics to get a deal done, even with Petry’s bargain bin price.
The Stars are currently projected at $317.8K over the $83.5MM Upper Limit for next season with a full 23-player roster, according to CapFriendly. Simply exposing veteran depth defenders Gavin Bayreuther and Joel Hanley to waivers and assigning them to the AHL would not clear the room to add Petry – they’d still need to clear about $1MM to be cap-compliant. The only waiver-exempt player on the roster who could feasibly start the season in the minors is defenseman Thomas Harley, although Dallas would love to see him take on a larger NHL role this season. Wyatt Johnston also does not require waivers, but he’ll be sticking with the team in a top-nine role in 2023-24 after scoring 24 goals and 41 points during his rookie campaign last year. With that in mind, the Stars would likely need to ship a roster player back to Montreal in any prospective Petry trade to make a deal work or make a corresponding trade with another team.
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