Jeff Petry had a career year in 2018-19 as he stepped up considerably in Shea Weber’s early-season absence. With Weber poised to play a full year though, will Petry be able to maintain his production or will he take a step back?
With Weber on the shelf, Petry got all of the playing time he could handle and then some. (He logged 33:31 in an OT loss in mid-November, literally more than half the game.) He wasn’t producing much in the goal column but picked up an impressive 15 assists through the first quarter of the season while his ATOI sat three minutes higher than his career average heading into the year.
Even when Weber returned, there wasn’t a substantial drop off in his playing time. However, somewhat unsurprisingly, Petry’s production dipped as he was away from the top pairing and didn’t see as much ice time on the top power play unit (which still scored the odd goal as bad as it was on the year). As a result, he only had 17 points in the second half of the season compared to getting that in the first quarter alone. That said, a pair of goals in the final two weeks of the year got him to 13 on the year, a new career-best.
While this part doesn’t really matter much from a fantasy perspective, it’s worth noting that Petry and Brett Kulak formed an interesting pairing in the second half. It’s not a coincidence that Kulak really established himself as a capable NHL blueliner during that stretch and Petry deserves a good chunk of credit for his help with that.
Season Stats: 82 GP, 13 goals, 33 assists, 46 points, -5 rating, 28 PIMS, 3 PPG, 4 GWG, 172 shots, 23:07 ATOI, 55.5 CF%
5 Year Averages
Some players are difficult to predict here. Petry is not one of those. Weber is entrenched on the top pairing and since Petry playing on his off-side is something that he doesn’t do well, it’s safe to say he’ll once again be patrolling the second pairing. Who he plays with isn’t quite so obvious.
While Kulak is probably the favourite at this time, it’s also quite possible that newcomer Ben Chiarot slots in there. It’s safe to say that they don’t envision him being a third pairing player considering the contract he got and from a fit standpoint, he complements Petry more than he does Weber. From an offence standpoint, he’d probably fare better with Kulak whose offensive instincts are better than Chiarot but that’s something the coaching staff probably won’t be too concerned with. (But hey, this is a fantasy hockey series so we can be concerned about it.)
From a special teams standpoint, not much will change from last year. Assuming Weber anchors the top unit with four forwards, Petry will be asked to do the same on the second unit. If things go as badly as they did last season, he should get some time with Weber on the top unit but that duo hasn’t had a lot of success when paired together with the man advantage. He’ll also see lots of ice time shorthanded, especially if Montreal tries to back off Weber’s penalty kill time to lessen his workload.
Petry has set new career highs in goals and points for three straight seasons. It’s certainly plausible that he could do it again, especially if the power play actually produces like something resembling a power play. That alone could add several points to his total (he had 11 last year after having 23 the year before) which could certainly offset any dip in even strength production with Weber around full-time.
However, I don’t see it happening. I suspect his performance in the second half of last season is closer to an indicator of what he’ll be able to provide offensively which will result in a point total in the mid-to-high 30’s. That’s still a solid return from someone on the second pairing, even if that player once again winds up with the second-most ice time of anyone on the back end.
From a fantasy perspective, I’ve long been a fan of Petry as one of the more underrated stat-stuffers out there. He reached what I like to call the triple hundred club (shots, hits, and blocks) for the third straight year, something only 15-25 defenders do each year. That takes him from being a mid-tier defender based on his output to a decent number two or three option depending on the size of the league. If you’re in a league that has those extra scoring settings, don’t hesitate to be a little more aggressive if he’s on the board in your draft once all of the top blueliners are gone.