Jeff Petry is not a name that immediately comes to mind when one discusses fantasy hockey. However, the 29-year-old has improved in every season he has spent in the NHL, with the 2016-2017 season being his best in goal and point totals, while drastically improving his +/- numbers. Inked to a lucrative deal for another four seasons, GM Marc Bergevin has really put his money where his mouth is as Petry stands to be the offensive driving force on the Habs’ blueline this season. Can Petry finally make the jump from secondary producer to Markov-like offensive general? The world is sure to find out this season.
A look through game-by-game stats throughout the season depicts exactly what the eye test told anyone watching the games. Petry spent most of the season running hot-and-cold with nearly every change of page on the calendar. He had a solid month of October scoring six points in eight games. Then he scored three points in fourteen games in November. He was back in form for December, scoring nine points in fourteen games, before playing an average month of January with six points in thirteen contests. The rest of the season was atrocious for Petry who collected four points over the last 31 games of the regular season. This highlights that for Petry to take the next step, he must find regularity in his production. However, 2016-2017 remains the first season in his seven NHL seasons that Petry has shown a positive +/-, so perhaps stabilizing his defensive game was his priority, which could easily be seen as a success in this case.
Season Stats: 80 GP, 8 goals, 20 assists, 28 points, +3 rating, 22 PIMS, 2 PPG, 1 GWG, 172 shots, 22:07 ATOI
Playoff Stats: 6 GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point, -3 rating, 2 PIMS, 0 PPG, 0 GWG, 12 shots, 24:44 ATOI
Five Year Averages
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a full 82 game season.)
While it is true that Petry had career best production numbers last year, there a realistic chance that he improves on these numbers this season. Since arriving in Montreal, Petry has mainly seen time on the second wave of the man advantage. If the four-forward unit does not work for Claude Julien, Petry could be the first to get a shot next to Shea Weber. Top power play minutes would assuredly mean better production for Petry. Additionally, due to the Andrei Markov departure, Petry should get some critical minutes if the Canadiens are down a goal late in a game.
The difficulty with predicting Petry’s stats remain his success within the new role. A repeat of the 28 points of last season should be expected. However, if he finds success next to Weber on the power play, he will easily eclipse that total. Important to consider too is that if he’s paired with Karl Alzner for the season and given more of a green light to support his forwards up the ice, he could quite easily supplant those totals without the power play minutes. However, there are also signs that point to cautious optimism in his case. When does one believe that a 29-year-old with seven seasons under his belt has reached his ceiling? This is hard to definitively suggest when he continues to surpass his career bests every year, even more so if his role becomes more important on the team for this upcoming season.
From a fantasy league perspective, Petry is not worth a pick in leagues that count secondary stats such as penalty minutes, shots, or +/- as he holds very little value in those categories. However, if the league only counts points, and is extremely deep, or relatively deep but requires one to select specific position players, then Petry could be an excellent sleeper pick. His 28 points aren’t likely to be fought over, and there’s some logic behind the belief that he should surpass those totals this season.