While not heavily discussed, there was always the looming cloud of Jeff Petry’s impending free-agent status and contract negotiations after the upcoming season. Marc Bergevin headed off a season’s worth of trade questions by locking down his top defenceman to a four-year, $6.25 million deal on Thursday afternoon.
The deal also includes a 15 team no-trade clause and a full no-move clause, while also including $8 million in signing bonuses after the first year. The NTC and NMC give Petry peace of mind, and also automatically protects him in the upcoming Seattle expansion draft.
The actual breakdown of his full deal from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun is as follows.
Jeff Petry contract breakdown:— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 25, 2020
2021-22, $5M salary
2022-23, $4.5M salary, $3 signing bonus
2023-24, $4.5 M salary, $3 signing bonus
2024-25, $3M salary, $2M signing bonus
and again, 15-team NTC (no list), and full NMC
Looming deals for Brendan Gallagher, Phillip Danault, Joel Armia, and Tomas Tatar are on the table as unrestricted free agents, while Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Artturi Lehkonen stand out as upcoming restricted free agents for the Canadiens, so this comparatively low salary opens up the board to make some moves and get core pieces under contract, something Brendan Gallagher had mentioned in a post-season interview. It signals to some of the other veterans that they’re wanted as key pieces going forward, a huge point of emphasis for Gallagher as well.
"I've talked with a guy like Gally throughout the process, and he's a key guy to this team. And even Phil. They are key pieces..."--Jeff Petry says to @ArponBasu, adding he hopes Gallagher and Danault reach agreements on contract extensions.— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) September 25, 2020
Projections from Evolving-Hockey had Petry potentially getting a seven-year deal worth $7.4 million per season, which feels far too long and perhaps too expensive for this Canadiens team. His four-year term added on to the one left on his current deal provides long-term stability on the blue line, without hampering the team overall.
Which leads to another bit of praise for the structure of this deal: his salary decreases as the deal goes on, while the salary cap likely begins to rise again. By the final year of the contract the Canadiens can easily afford his $2 million signing bonus, and potentially trade him and his $3 million salary quite easily if they feel they have access to a better option on the right side.
The term of this new contract fits perfectly into the Canadiens’ timeline for prospect development and drafting. With five more years of Petry, they can be patient with players like Josh Brook and Cale Fleury, not rushing them to the NHL level until they’re truly ready. It also gives the younger players a mentor to work with, especially for Brook and Fleury who play a similar style, to help them adapt to the NHL game full-time.
While the contract does last until he’s 38 years old, Petry’s body doesn’t have the same hard miles on it that Shea Weber’s does, meaning he can likely keep up his level of play for most of the contract.
It’s truly difficult to find any flaws with the new contract. The term is great for the player, and the money is fantastic for the player. It allows the club some flexibility with the salary cap in the future, and it’s keeping a key piece of the core in the lineup for a half decade more.
A lot of people say that getting Phillip Danault for two expiring contracts is Bergevin’s greatest move as general manager, but with this new deal done and the way Petry has played, it’s very likely that this is the best heist Bergevin has pulled off.
It’s clear the GM is serious about making this team into a contender, and a deal like this showcases that to other players. Now with the deal signed and delivered, it wouldn’t be surprising to see other soon-to-be UFA’s inking new contracts as well.