The hope that the Montreal Canadiens could somehow sneak into the NHL playoffs was kept alive on Thursday night. In overtime, Jeff Petry sent the Anaheim Ducks packing, and brought his team within five points of third place in the Atlantic division.
An end-to-end rush — albeit during three-on-three play — finished by a great shot off the far post. You couldn’t script a better ending to your night as a defenseman in the NHL.
With Shea Weber being placed on injured reserve earlier in the day, there was a big hole to fill on the back end for the Tricolore. Petry stepped up with just over 27 minutes of ice time, and his game winner was merely the cherry on top of an excellent outing.
He was arguably the best skater for his team, owning a 58.97% corsi-for at five-on-five despite starting only 20% of those shifts in the offensive zone. On the power play, he chipped in an assist on Nick Suzuki’s goal, so his impact was felt in every aspect of the Habs’ win.
He may not be the most talked about trade target on the Montreal roster, but he could also be the one who yields the biggest return. But the return is incredibly important in his case, because he could be vital to contention in the next few years. They may still have hope for this year, but even if they didn’t, you have to wonder about his long term importance, and whether the gap he leaves will be more damaging than the handsome return he’d likely get.
If the miracle run to playoff time can’t materialize, all avenues must be considered. I’ve opined that it would be foolish for Marc Bergevin to ignore calls about the likes of Tomas Tatar and Ilya Kovalchuk, so the same applies to Petry. Bergevin has to know the market, but I think Petry figures to be the hardest to replace, so he has to get an incredible return.
He warrants a legitimate haul. Several picks and a prospect sounds about right, and even then the names and numbers associated with any combination of these things is important. It has to be a deal that sets the team up for success in the near future, which feels like it will be hard to pull off unless the perfect trade partner is found.
I don’t think the Habs will get the haul that Petry deserves. As such, I’d advocate to hold on to him until and unless an undeniable offer is put forth. Virtually no man should be considered safe if the Habs hit the deadline outside of the playoff picture, but I think they should play it close to the chest with Petry, and only act if a crazy offer comes around.
If that doesn’t come, he’s still a highly valuable player to have around as the team looks to become competitive again.