Eggs Bennett 22-17
July 17, 2022
On Saturday, after months of trying to make it happen, Kent Hughes traded Jeff Petry. Petry, along with Ryan Poehling went to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Michael Matheson and a fourth-round draft pick in 2023.
Here’s why I think the deal is solid.
The criticism I’m reading is that the Montreal Canadiens didn’t find the cap space they needed. Do the math. They found cap space. Let me help.
($6.25M (Petry) + $750K (Poehling)) – ($4.875M (Matheson) + $0 (4th)) = $2.125M
They gained more than two million in cap space, and if that wasn’t obvious, they signed Rem Pitlick minutes later with their found cap space – to a sweet deal, I might add – and had change leftover. They might not have found as much cap space as fans would like, but they were always going to add a defenceman. Then they added Pitlick too and still saved money.
The Habs were never going to find all their cap flexibility in one deal.
Replacing a Veteran Defenceman
As noted, Kent Hughes has been steadfast in his plan to replace Jeff Petry with a veteran defenceman. The Habs did that in this deal. They were able to add that veteran while also getting a little younger. Petry is probably the better player today, but that’s unlikely to be the case over the duration of both contracts.
You may not agree with the HuGo plan to season their defencemen well before throwing three of them at a time to the Montreal wolves, but that’s their plan. Hughes was always adding back a veteran, he’s been transparent about it, and he accomplished it in this deal.
Assets that Work
You may end up liking Mike Matheson more than you think. Well, some of you won’t. Fans who still prefer the stay-at-home-defenceman (SAHD, pronounced “sad”) won’t get him at all – or at least no more than they got Jeff Petry. Fans who don’t understand that PMD who have the puck on their stick and join the offence a lot will also have some turnovers and be out of position on occasion. Matheson’s numbers last year show he came out on top in that ratio.
Certainly, Pens fans were not loving this deal and, according to Hughes, Ron Hextall did not want to make it. Hughes insisted upon Matheson in the return. At this point in the Habs rebuild, Hughes is determined to add players that he believes can fill a role of mentoring young players. His comments to this effect respecting Matheson’s character are telling.
Matheson will fill a top-4 role for the Habs. But beyond that, he is a local player who will take his place before the media mob. Having a player that wants to be in Montreal is not an insignificant thing. If that’s not obvious in this deal, I can’t help you.
Consider the Market
Consider the returns for Ryan McDonagh and Brent Burns. Did San Jose get more for Burns? I don’t think so. Did Tampa Bay get more for McDonagh? Absolutely not. Those deals should have clued fans in to a market where cap space is precious and finding it without giving up significant assets was not happening.
Did the Habs give up Ryan Poehling to make it happen? Probably. Had they given up on Poehling? More likely. He has not developed in Montreal as hoped – he’s still young, and perhaps a change of scenery will help. The addition of Kirby Dach had made him expendable, and Hughes was able to release him in the deal to maximize the cap space without hurting the Habs.
At the end of the day…
I loved Jeff Petry. He played in Montreal at a time when the Man Mountain was getting all the acclaim. Very often, he was filling the top D role admirably, while Weber recovered from one injury or another. He was acquired at the 2014-15 trade deadline for a 2nd and a 4th, played well to end that season, and gave them seven seasons after that. He served them well, and the time had come for his family to move on.
With the market as it is, and with the Habs being where they are in a rebuild, the Petry deal is solid.