Eggs Bennett 22-03
April 20, 2022
This is the second article in a series called Killer Contracts. As the regular season draws to a close, so does the HuGo window of assessment to determine who fits for the short, medium, and long terms. While we wait for movement, management decisions are being made. HuGo is getting ready for the next two windows of change for the Habs – the window leading up to the draft, and the free agency window.
One thing is certain – HuGo will absolutely try to move some problematic contracts. Getting younger and faster necessitates moving some bodies to make room for kids. If they wish to be active in free agency, they need to clear some cap space.
In the first article I considered Shea Weber, the Man Mountain of Killer Contracts. In this article, I’m looking at Jeff Petry.
The Contract Background
Jeff Petry is currently in a 4-year, $25M contract with an AAV of $6.25M. Petry turned 34 in December and has three years remaining on that deal. The contract has annual signing bonuses on the years that remain, to the tune of $3M for the first two years and $2M for the final year. The lowest cost year of that contract is ending, and for the next two years the dollars owed is actually higher than the AAV.
How did this killer contract come to be?
Petry was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the 2006 draft. He developed for three years at Michigan State before signing his entry level contract for the 2010-11 season. He split those two ELC years between Edmonton and the AHL. Petry signed another two-year deal with the Oilers with an AAV of $1.75M, and then a one-year deal with an AAV of $3.075.
Petry was traded to the Montreal Canadiens at the trade deadline in the 2014-15 season, the final year of his contract. In one of the best trades of Marc Bergevin’s tenure – and indisputably his best trade deadline deal – Petry was acquired for second and fourth round picks. Petry proved his worth in two playoff series and was signed by Bergevin to a six-year deal worth $33M and an AAV of $5.5M.
Over the course of that contract, Petry was arguably the most valuable defenceman on the team. This was true despite the acquisition of Shea Weber, since Weber spent significant portions of those seasons on the injured reserve list, leaving Petry to fill in the hole. Approaching his UFA year, Bergevin resigned Petry to his current contract. Three years remain on that deal.
COVID-19. That’s the killer. A prolonged pandemic that hit Quebec in a hard way was incredibly challenging for the Petry family. His pregnant wife and three children are currently in the United States, near family support, while Petry remains in Montreal.
Petry has asked for a trade that allows him to reunite his family. The stress of his situation has impacted his play and his diminished effectiveness has made him less appealing to suitors. He also has a 15-team no-trade clause in his contract, but this is not likely to be a huge factor in any deal that would help his family situation. This is a killer contract that must move.
Fixer options will need to meet several criteria. Teams with interest will need to have the cap space to take on Petry’s significant contract or be able to send back a contract that is acceptable to HuGo and will help mitigate the cap hit. Fixers will have a need for a right-handed defenceman and believe that Petry can fill that hole and be an upgrade on other options available to them. Teams with interest in Petry will need to be comfortable with his age, see this season as an anomaly and expect that he can be effective for their organization.
Here are some examples of teams that fit those criteria.
HuGo will find a trade partner for Jeff Petry this summer. The deal may happen in the draft window but, depending on the partner, it may have to wait until July when the first bonus is paid out. Habs fans may not be thrilled with the return for Petry, based on the performance we have seen from him over the years. But this is a situation that needs resolving and HuGo may have to settle for a little less than they’d like.
Kent Hughes has said he will only make a deal that works for the Habs. I’m not sure keeping a miserable Petry around works for anyone. Sometimes the best deal is just the one you can make.