It’s been a strange 14 months for Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jeff Petry. The 35-year-old defenseman was traded in July 2022 by the Montreal Canadiens to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a package that included defenseman Mike Matheson and forward Ryan Poehling. Petry spent one uneven season with the Penguins only to be traded back to Montreal 13 months later in a salary dump as part of the Erik Karlsson trade. Petry was then flipped to the Red Wings for a fourth-round draft pick and Gustav Lindstrom.
Now, just two games into his time with Detroit, Petry already finds himself a healthy scratch as per the Red Wings X account. Petry was in the press box during the Red Wings 4-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight as Detroit dressed six defensemen and 12 forwards for the game.
The Red Wings traded very little to acquire Petry, but it is difficult to understand the logic of the move given how many other NHL veterans are currently signed to play on Detroit’s blue line. The Red Wings made several moves this summer to acquire veteran defensemen with Petry coming into the organization along with Justin Holl and Shayne Gostisbehere.
Petry was a bit of a wild card as he hasn’t been overly effective since the 2020-21 season when he was with the Canadiens and has been shuffled through multiple organizations in that time. Last year in Pittsburgh he wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t particularly good either, which prompted the Penguins to make the Karlsson move to replace Petry and add more power to their offense.
In his first two games in Detroit, Petry has really struggled posting no points and a -2 while averaging 16:44 of ice time. A dramatic decline from the 22:14 he has averaged throughout his career. While his ice time is down substantially, his play hasn’t warranted additional ice time as he has found himself on the wrong side of puck possession more often than not in the first two games.
How Detroit handles their defense going forward could make for interesting theatre. Moritz Seider and Jake Walman aren’t coming out of the lineup for Petry and given their play as of late it seems unlikely that Olli Maatta or Gostisbehere are coming out of the lineup either. The likeliest candidate is Holl, but like Petry, he was just brought in this summer, and it wouldn’t be a great look to scratch him after a handful of games.
Detroit has alternated using six or seven defensemen this season and may continue to do so with the logjam in their defensive core. However, constantly sitting newly acquired veterans is often frowned upon and could lead to some bitter feelings among veterans.