Lost among all of the things that went quite wrong for the Habs last season was that Jeff Petry wound up having a career year. How will he follow that up in 2018-19?
Petry went into last season set to be a defensive anchor on the second pairing. He was supposed to provide some support behind Shea Weber while complementing Karl Alzner’s skillset. Of course, Weber missed most of the season with a foot injury and Alzner, who was also supposed to help take some pressure off the top pairing, struggled considerably. Add it all up and Petry’s role resembled what it was in Edmonton for a time – there was him and not a whole lot else.
Not surprisingly, Petry didn’t handle the extra workload particularly swimmingly. There were moments where he really stood out in a positive way and stepped up. However, there were others where he made poor decisions both with and without the puck and looked like someone that needed to be moved down the lineup. Unfortunately, with the lack of options behind him, the team had no choice but to keep rolling him out in a number one role.
As a result, Petry got all of the ice time he could handle and played in all situations. He responded with a career year in point production while not letting up on his usual proficiency for blocking shots as well as hits. It was an ugly year for a lot of players but not for Petry.
5 Year Averages
With Weber out to start the season, Petry will once again be on the top pairing when the puck drops in October. Instead of being asked to be on the second power play unit, he will be asked to be the point threat (largely by default) on the top one which should give him some extra opportunities to produce early on. He has always been a regular on the penalty kill and that’s going to be the case for him again next season as well.
On the flip side, Petry is going to be asked to carry whoever his partner is. Alzner struggled with Petry as a partner last year (and every other playing partner he had) and there isn’t really anyone on the left side that is legitimately qualified to play on a top pairing. Whoever is up there with Petry is going to have his flaws and that will probably have Petry thinking more about defence and stability than attacking at five-on-five.
With the number one job his with no legitimate challenger for that position until Weber returns, there is some cause for optimism when it comes to his numbers. 40-plus points could be iffy (especially if he’s playing safer at even strength) but 30 or more points is certainly doable which makes him a useful fantasy player in all formats.
However, I think Petry is often undervalued in fantasy hockey as he is one of a small group of players that is a safe bet (when healthy) to be a ‘triple-triple’ player. He’s likely to surpass 100 hits, blocks, and shots again next season so for leagues that have those stats as categories, he goes from a decent option to one of the better secondary blueliners available. On the negative side of things, there’s a very good chance that his plus/minus rating will be ugly once again so knock him down your rankings a little bit in pools that still have that as a stat.
When you think of notable players on the Canadiens, Petry often doesn’t come to mind right away. However, in fantasy hockey, he should be one of the first Habs off the board on draft day.