Segue Issue 22-04
February 1, 2022
I’m in the middle of a pre-trade deadline series called Five Fantasies to Fix the Habs, with three fantasies already in the books. Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen and Brendan Gallagher were the first three guys I considered. Those articles (and many others) can be found at habather.wordpress.com.
I had no intention of covering Jeff Petry in these fantasies. I’ve been in favour of holding on to Petry as veteran support, especially since they are weak on the right side defence and Petry’s value may be impacted by his poor season. But news broke this week that would suggest Petry will be moved if the Habs can land a fair package. So, this is an extra fantasy in the fantasy series.
Just a reminder that I’m calling them fantasies for a reason. I’m neither a GM nor an agent, so player valuation is not my forte. I will rely on suggestions made by analysts and pundits to pin down the value of various players. Then I’ll make a fantasy proposal that I think will contribute to fixing the Habs.
In creating these fantasies I’m considering two things. First, what are the biggest needs for the Habs? In my view they should be targeting a centre prospect with top-6 potential, a right-handed defenceman with top-4 potential, or a pure goal scorer. Second, which teams need what the Habs are offering the most, and would have the assets to make the best offer?
Jeff Petry – here’s looking at you.
On January 31st, Pierre LeBrun dropped an article for The Athletic titled “Kent Hughes’ plan for Canadiens is beginning to take shape.”
LeBrun spent some time on the plan in general. Habs have several players on big contracts with term, and they will try to move some of them. The trade deadline is not typically the best time to make that kind of move. In the off-season, teams can be nimbler with their cap structure and a seller can generate more interest.
Hughes and Gorton (HuGo), as part of their meetings with players, have been gathering information about who would be interested in supporting a rebuild and who would welcome a trade. Petry, whose family has moved back to the US during the current COVID-19 lockdown, has reportedly stated his interest in a trade. Hughes has said he will accommodate a trade if he can negotiate a deal that works for both the Canadiens and Petry.
This article proposes trade deadline deals, but there is no guarantee that HuGo will make the deal before the off-season. The deal must work for both sides.
LeBrun addresses Petry’s trade value. 34-year-old Petry is signed for three more years at $6.25M and holds a 15-team no-trade clause in his contract. Despite his rough year, LeBrun notes that Petry’s reputation around the NHL. LeBrun references a conversation with a Western Conference executive, who noted that teams still view Petry based on his play before this season. That executive said if his team needed what Petry brings, they wouldn’t hesitate to deal for him. A specific valuation wasn’t provided.
If you subscribe to The Athletic you can read the entire article here.
Before learning of Petry’s interest in moving on from the Canadiens, LeBrun’s colleague at The Athletic, Marc Antoine Godin, published an article titled “Scouts Confidential: What value might Canadiens players with term left have on the trade market?”
Godin interviewed five scouts about Habs players with term left on their contracts and sought their perception of each player’s value on the trade market. Jeff Petry was included in this review.
One scout didn’t see Petry as a player in decline, but rather having resumed some of his bad habits from Edmonton – nonchalance and poor decision-making. Two other scouts agreed Petry is a risk – “a scout killer” – but also noted his usefulness on a second pair. The contract becomes more prohibitive for a second-pair D.
Another scout was more positive and said that there is a market for Petry. A team looking for a number three defenceman who can play on the second power play unit would have interest in Petry. That scout’s valuation was a couple of draft picks (2nd and 3rd) and a B prospect.
You can read the Godin article here if you subscribe to The Athletic.
This fantasy requires a scoping of trade proposals. Any team dealing for Jeff Petry is American, has the cap space to absorb the contract, needs help on right side defence, and ideally can play him second pair. Since we’re talking trade deadline deals, I’ll focus on teams with playoff potential.
I’ll also try to work with Godin’s scout’s valuation: two picks – 2nd and 3rd – and a B prospect, but I’ll also get a little creative. I’m also deliberately avoiding the Detroit Red Wings since everyone seems convinced that’s where he is headed.
Option 1 – Nashville Predators
The absolute best fit for a Petry trade is the Preds. They’re currently in a playoff spot and can use a little help to stay there. The Preds have plenty of cap space with expiring D contracts, and their cap structure can accommodate Petry’s term. Nashville is strong on the LHD with Josi and Ekholm, but the right side has kids and low budget contracts.
The Habs are not deep at RHD, so one coming back in the deal would be preferable. I’m also sneaking in a move up in the draft for the Habs. The Preds may be more willing to give up their first in exchange for a well-positioned second.
Option 2 – Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks have the cap space and may be interested in Jeff Petry. Josh Manson is a pending UFA and if they don’t intend to re-sign him, they may wish to replace him rather than lose him for nothing at season’s end. Moving him for a typical futures-oriented deadline deal would leave them short on the right side for playoffs. Their cap structure wouldn’t be impacted by adding Petry since Shattenkirk’s deal is expiring before Drysdale’s entry level contract is over.
The Habs would then flip the UFA Manson for futures, and would no doubt have a few suitors. Toronto needs help on their right side with no cap space to make that happen. The Habs can help, for a price. They can both retain salary and take back a bad contract if the Leafs are willing to pay for that service. The Leafs window is wide open, and assets to help now have more value than futures.
Option 3 – Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are not likely to make the playoffs but may still use the opportunity to add and go for it. They have plenty of cap space to make a hockey deal and can easily add a player that makes sense for them. Their D budget is low, including two very young RHD on entry level deals who could use some veteran support. They’re also a team that struggles to attract and keep players, and Petry is under contract for three more years and would be heading to a city that works for his family.
The wake-up call…
In-season trades for players with term are tough, but I feel like Petry is doable. Is there a better fantasy partner? Feel free to drop your ideas in the comments and we can chat!