Petry became a member of the Canadiens at the trade deadline in 2014-15. He played seven full seasons in Montreal after that partial campaign, at times serving as the team’s number-one defenceman.
This year, the sentiment regarding the player turned — among fans and the organization itself — after his level of play dropped substantially amidst reports that his familial situation was adversely impacted by COVID-19 border restrictions. He was stripped of his alternate captaincy midway through the season, and his time with the team seemed to be all but over. His play, and attitude, changed with the arrival of Martin St. Louis behind the bench, but Kent Hughes’s mind seems to have been made up by that time.
Petry hits career highs in all of goals, assists, and points in 2018-19, though his most impressive season may have while playing in the one-off North Division in 2020-21 when h scored at a 0.76 point-per-game rate. That also provided the major reason for the frustration with his play in the first half of last year.
Outside of that four-month stretch, Petry was one of the few capable puck-movers and offensive contributors on the blue line; he ranked first in points in each of the last five campaigns following Andrei Markov’s final year in the NHL.
Ryan Poehling was Montreal’s first-round selection in 2017 after he played his draft season in the NCAA. He was seen as a safe pick with a high floor, yet five years later he has just 85 regular-season games of NHL experience and 22 points. The acquisition of Kirby Dach at the 2022 NHL Draft made his place in the lineup more tenuous behind bottom-six options Christian Dvorak and Jake Evans, so he could be used as an asset in an off-season trade.
Mike Matheson is a left-shot defenceman under contract for four seasons including 2022-23, with a cap hit of $4.875 million, less than Petry’s $6.25 million amount. Matheson just put together his best season offensively with the Penguins, so all of Petry’s offensive contributions won’t be lost in this swap.
The fourth-round pick included in the deal now gives Montreal 11 total for next year’s draft, including three fourth-rounders.
We will have more on what Matheson can provide on the Canadiens’ blue line.