Earlier this week, the Habs signed Jeff Petry to a six year, $33 million contract. Having had some time to ponder the deal, our writers weigh in with their thoughts on the deal, including whether or not Montreal overpaid.
As a quick refresher, here is the breakdown of the deal:
2015-16: $7 million ($3 million signing bonus, full NMC)
2016-17: $7 million ($1 million signing bonus, full NMC)
2017-18: $6 million ($1 million signing bonus, full NMC)
2018-19: $5 million ($1 million signing bonus, 15-team NTC)
2019-20: $4 million ($1 million signing bonus, 15-team NTC)
2020-21: $4 million ($1 million signing bonus, 15-team NTC)
Simon Aronson: Signing Petry is a big move and goes a long way to ensuring Montreal will be set with a strong group of players on the back end for the foreseeable future. Some people may criticize this signing as an overpayment for a defenceman who has a career high 25 points but Petry is a well-rounded player who is just as capable of defending as he is of supporting the attack. The six year duration of the contract will in all likelihood encompass the entirety of Petry’s prime which is a plus for the team because there should not be any age related decline in his play over the contract duration. As high as the AAV of $5.5M per year is, he could have surely gotten more in free agency as he was one of best UFA options available on the back end.
Petry slots in as likely the second best defenceman on the team as the hard miles seem to be starting to catch up to Andrei Markov while Nathan Beaulieu is only just starting to establish himself as an NHL regular. With the amount of money the Habs have tied up in their defence group some may wonder if there is any left to add a key piece to the forward group. They will likely have to move out at least one significant contract to take on another one, so that begs the question, who is likely to go? The obvious answer is Alexei Emelin due to his high salary and somewhat inconsistent play but only time will tell.
Brian La Rose: I like the deal but I think it’s a bit on the pricey side. Yes, Petry played quite well with the Habs but that was in all of 31 games. He didn’t play anywhere near as well in 295 games with Edmonton so was his time with Montreal a sign of things to come or him playing over his head for a couple of months? If it’s the former, it’ll be a fair contract. If not, it will be one of quite a few of Marc Bergevin’s deals where the player is at least a bit overpaid relative to their value.
Finding right shot defencemen can be a challenge in this league (just look at Detroit) so having two very good options locked up long-term is certainly a good thing. The fact that Petry can log sizable minutes should also be beneficial in terms of not having the top pairing playing 25+ minutes every single game.
This contract also allocates even more money to an already expensive blueline corps. There needs to be a follow up move (or two) to get the forward group some much needed help. If that happens, I’ll probably like this deal a bit more.
Alex Létourneau: It’s not often I think clubs get a fair shake when it comes to re-signing a pending UFA or UFA come July 1, but there really isn’t much, if anything, to dislike about this deal. Six years at $33 million is good money for a player pundits were expecting to cash in for more in the open market. And at six years, that average annual $5.5 million will look better and better as the years progress.
I’ve seen some vitriol in some comment sections after the deal was announced, and it’s baffling as Petry was a defensive juggernaut for the Canadiens in the postseason. You can argue he gave Subban a run for his money as the best defenceman on the team during their shortened playoff run. Aside from the irrelevant comments of how he played on a perennially bad Edmonton Oilers team, the deal appears to be getting kudos I think it deserves.
This also makes for an interesting summer with a few emerging youngsters pushing some veterans into uncomfortable spots. Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov’s names have been mentioned quite a bit, and it’s viable either one is moved – likely the former given the latter’s mixed playoff performance, rapidly aging legs, and unattractive contract. All in all, Marc Bergevin made a statement to the locker room and the fan base with this signing; he sees a window.
Paul MacLeod: Despite Bergevin’s stated “priority” to re-sign Petry, it seemed unlikely to happen, the allure of a free agent pay day being too strong. But lo and behold, Bergevin strikes again! This is a great signing on so many levels. The second pair RD spot is now solid.
Not only did Petry re-sign, he did it before free agency without even exploring how big a windfall he could have gotten on July 1st. Petry loves Montreal and put his money where his mouth was. Everything he said in the interviews indicated how great Montreal is; how well-run the organization is and how committed the management and players are to winning.
If the franchise hopes to attract UFA’s or players with NTC’s in the future, Petry’s actions, in leaving significant money on the table, and endorsements are pretty strong statements that Montreal is now one of the league’s premier destinations and is a team on the rise.
And now for a follow-up act, all Bergevin has to do is clear out some underperformers, without taking back a bad contract, and find the team a goal-scoring forward. Can he do it? I wouldn’t bet against it.
Louis Moustakas: This deal does a few things for the Canadiens. It adds a defender entering his prime to their blueline for the conceivable future and helps address the issue of Markov’s inevitably diminishing level of play. With Subban, Markov, Emelin, Gilbert, Pateryn, Beaulieu, and Tinordi on the team already, as well as Darren Dietz, Dalton Thrower, and Brett Lernout waiting in the wings, it is clear this deal also sets up the Canadiens to trade away from their blueline for, presumably, help up front. The real question here seems to be what form that eventual trade will take. Though I’m sure all of us on the site and the forums have our own ideas about that.
Norm Szcyrek: I like the signing of Petry for a number of reasons. He’s been a solid contributor since he was traded from Edmonton. When Andrei Markov faltered badly in this year’s playoffs, Petry was able to step up and handle the extra responsibility. As an American player who wasn’t drafted and developed by Montreal, it’s exciting to see the Habs were able to retain him given that he lives in the Detroit area and was expected to be wooed by the Red Wings as a UFA.
The contract amount is about what I expect for an offensive defender like Petry, given he’s a right handed shooting defenceman which are a rare commodity in the NHL. He’s responsible defensively most of the time and likely to be the heir apparent to Markov, should his play continue to slide next season. If not then he’ll represent an excellent #3 blueliner with the ability to step up to the top pairing when needed.
The only downside to the deal is the salary cap hit, which by itself is reasonable but will make the Habs’ other choices for allocating funds a bit difficult for next season. They currently have 10 forwards, 6 defencemen and 2 goalies signed for next season for approximately $64.1 million, leaving somewhere between $5-7 million to re-sign RFA’s Nathan Beaulieu, Alex Galchenyuk, and Brian Flynn, along with UFA Torrey Mitchell. I have to wonder if another deal will be made in the offseason, similar to the Josh Gorges trade that will free up some cap room to allow Montreal to resign all of those players. If not, then I suspect only three of them will be back.
Have your say on the move by commenting on the HW Forums.