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NHL Trade Talk: Jeff Petry Available, a Perfect fit for the Penguins?

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Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL trade, Kris Letang, Jeff Petry

The Pittsburgh Penguins have a big opening as most of their players will be off the ice for nearly a week, which means GM Ron Hextall and a few high-powered agents will be free to discuss future contracts without fear of interfering with game preparation.

Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin do not have contracts for next season, and the break is the ideal time to start serious discussions. It is also a good time to begin serious conversations on the NHL trade market.

Hextall and the Penguins finally got a look at their team with all of the primary players present and accounted, less Jason Zucker. The last three weeks have soured what was previously a special feeling surrounding the team, which included a dominant 10-game winning streak.

We’re still about seven weeks away from the March 21 NHL trade deadline, but the Penguins picture is finally coming into focus.

With the uncertainty surrounding Letang’s and Malkin’s futures, this would be the time for a splash at the deadline, and there could be a perfect fit for both this season and the short-term future.

Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens

On Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals walked the Penguins defensemen a few times. Daniel Sprong got the edge and blew past Chad Ruhwedel. Letang was a victim, as was Brian Dumoulin in a lesser moment.

The Penguins’ blue line is adequate, if not good, but it can be improved. Instead of focusing on a low-cost option to add spice to the third pairing, perhaps Hextall makes a big move to acquire talent.

Petry, 34, is in the first year of a four-year deal with an annual cap hit of $6.25 million. He’ll be only 37 when the contract expires. According to our colleague Jimmy Murphy, who has been closely covering the Montreal Canadiens situation, Petry is not only available but affordable.

He wants out. Montreal has no use for a 34-year-old defenseman. Murphy reports the price for Petry is a second-round pick and a top prospect.

The situation soured quickly in Montreal. After Shea Weber essentially retired, Carey Price left the team, and GM Marc Bergevin became a lame duck. That was the high point for the putrid Canadiens season. Petry has been significantly affected, and observers note his play has fallen off a cliff.

The usually reliable scoring defenseman has just six points (1-5-6) in 37 games after posting 42 points (12-30-42) last season. Petry isn’t necessarily a top-pairing right-side defenseman who will carry a blue line, but he is capable of big minutes, playing against opponent’s top lines, and offensive production. On a deep blue line, he could carry the No. 1 designation.

Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Situation

The Penguins both need to upgrade the right side of their defense, but a player with term like Petry would also provide insurance should the team and Letang not come to terms. And, quite frankly, that seems to be a legitimate possibility at this moment.

Sources confirmed to PHN as of last week, serious talks with Letang had not yet begun. With some irony, Letang’s agent Kent Hughes is the new GM of the Montreal Canadiens.

(And no, by all inside accounts, Letang and the Canadiens are not on each other’s wish list).

Hughes’s departure did delay negotiations for Kris Letang. Last week, his new agent, Phil Lecavalier, told PHN that he hoped to begin serious discussions soon.

The Letang situation affects the Penguins’ future and the Penguins’ trade needs because–suitable replacements for Letang are few and far between. Only one pending UFA could fill the role: John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars.

You can see the complete list of potential UFAs at PuckPedia.com. After Letang and Klingberg, the second tier is Rasmus Ristolainen and Colin Miller.

That’s it. The steep drop after Klingberg only gets steeper after Miller. That’s the entire list of potential top-pairing right-side defensemen. One.

The Dallas Stars are reportedly already poking around Petry in anticipation of losing Klingberg, who will command a massive contract in July. And that’s what makes Petry interesting. He would immediately upgrade the Penguins’ blue line and provide insurance for next season if Letang and the Penguins part, for only $6.25 million.

The Real Costs

The Montreal Canadiens asking price is a top prospect and second-round pick, which might be a bit below standing NHL trade valuation.

The Penguins have the pick, but do they have the top prospect? Right now, they have only one who might fit the bill: P.O. Joseph.

Joseph, 22, is nearly NHL ready. PHN spoke with WBS Penguins coach J.D. Forest last week about several topics, Joseph included. Forest noted improving Joseph’s consistency to maintain his highest level of play. (We’ll have several stories from our day with the WBS Penguins, including a couple on Joseph).

Joseph is a left-handed defenseman, and the Penguins currently have LHDs Mike Matheson and Marcus Pettersson under contract for a few more years. Brian Dumoulin has one more year. The path for Joseph is currently blocked, even if he were ready.

National Hockey Now has spoken with scouts from other organizations, and Joseph drew some praise.

The salary cap would be another impediment but not an insurmountable obstacle.

The Penguins currently have $6.3 million in their LTIR pool, which means Petry would be affordable as long as Jason Zucker remains on LTIR. Does anyone else wonder if the Penguins could “Kucherov” Zucker and drag out his return until the playoffs? Center Teddy Blueger will also be out until close to April with a fractured jaw.

Or, Hextall finds a way to move a little salary.

Also, with each passing day, Petry’s cap hit this season lessens.

It’s not easy, but the prospect of beginning next season with a veteran-laden roster led by Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter, and possibly Evgeni Malkin, but a weaker defense lacking a No. 1 can’t sit well with Hextall. If the Penguins acquire Petry but eventually sign Letang, Petry becomes a solid No. 2, and John Marino becomes a solid No. 3.

Or, both would have substantial value on the NHL trade market, too.

No, it’s not easy, but it does fit. Perhaps those private conversations between GM and agent, then agent and player, over the next few weeks–if they occur–will provide the necessary clarity on the situation.

Perhaps a player like Petry becomes unnecessary. Or…becomes absolutely necessary and worth sacrificing a legitimate prospect.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Mike Donnelly
Mike Donnelly
3 months ago

That cheesy moustache definitely belongs in Pittsburgh

Jay95
Jay95
3 months ago

I’d definitely prefer the short term option of Miller over Petry and to keep Joseph. I feel like the loss of Joseph would haunt us within the next season or two. But, getting another 2-way defense on that right side is important. I’d personally like to see Joseph step up and take one of the top 3 jobs on the left and send another LHD out for salary. I actually think that when Matheson odd on he’s essential to this team. So, maybe Pettersson?

Last edited 3 months ago by Jay95
celilo
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay95

I vote dumping Dumoulin, a talented player that barely plays to the level he is capable. Peterson has less talent, but is playing above what was likely anticipated. Stop getting rid of young talent like Joseph.

D1VE is Dumb
D1VE is Dumb
3 months ago
Reply to  celilo

Dumoulin balances Letang. When Dumo has been hurt, the 1st pairing has been absolutely awful no matter who they have tried beside Letang. Dumo only makes $75,000 more than Pettersson and Pettersson is more of a 3rd pairing D man.
Joseph needs to bulk up if he is going to be an NHL regular.

concerned penguinfan
concerned penguinfan
3 months ago
Reply to  celilo

agree with dumoulin- his shelf live is dropping fast- that last injury his skating appears to have lost a gear good time to move him while he still has value

moe
moe
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay95

Definitely keep POJ and trade away Pettersson and his 4m and slot in POJ. It’s a no-brainer, as my boss used to say

Rick
Rick
3 months ago

Re Petry – I am not on the inside. so I don’t know if the rumors are true, but if Letang is asking for $8 mil for 5 years and Hextall seems extremely reluctant to resign him, saying that Letang (and Malkin) need to think team friendly, Why would he give up anything for Petry? Letang and Petry are both 34 yrs old, Petry still has 3 years left on $6.26 mil Cap hit ($7.5 mil, $7.5mil, $5mil) NTC, NMC contract. That is not much lower than Letang’s contract, which expires this season. Trading for Petry doesn’t seem to make… Read more »

Fredrick
Fredrick
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick

POJ has actually added weight and is playing extremely well. Between him and Lee on the WBS Penguins they both show promise to be able to make the jump to the big leagues. They are just blocked by our LHD logjam. I believe POJ has the weight to make it with the big club.

Rick
Rick
3 months ago
Reply to  Fredrick

I hear what you are saying but playing in WBS and playing in Pgh are 2 different animals. In 2018-2019, Ethan Prow had 50 Pnts and was a +26 plying his trade in the AHL for WBS and even was named to the AHL All Star team. In 2020-2021 he found himself on loan to the EHC Munchen of the DEL. He has finally got his first crack at the NHL, a brief 4 games for Buffalo.

I would love to be wrong, but I don’t see it.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick

Prow was never considered the type of prospect Joseph is.

Rick
Rick
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Fisher

POJ has yet to put up the Number Prow has put up in terms of Points or +/- at the professional level. Nor has POJ been named to any All Star teams.

Pouliot was consider a shoe-in prospect too, look where he is.

As I said, I like POJs back story and would love to see him make it but I just don’t see it happening.

Fredrick
Fredrick
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick

POJ is quite different. He can score, but it is his defensive awareness and positioning that is quite different compared to the other prospects in which you named. POJ is still only 22 and has shown to be a good player when called up to fill in at the NHL level.

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick

Again, Prow was never considered the type of prospect Prow is/was. And as we all know in every sport, first round picks get longer looks and more opportunities than lower round picks and free agents do.

D1VE is Dumb
D1VE is Dumb
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick

I couldn’t agree with you more on POJ.

Petry for almost $2 million less than Letang and 3 years instead of 5 seems like a no brainer to me.

Rick
Rick
3 months ago
Reply to  D1VE is Dumb

It is not that I dislike Petry or the idea of getting him in a Pens sweater. And I certainly agree that $6.25 mil for 3 years would beat $8 mil for 5 years. However, I don’t think $6.25 mil for 3 years with a NTC and NMC constitutes a team friendly deal. And I do have concerns about his Give Away tendency.

Fredrick
Fredrick
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick

I would take Letang at 8 million everyday (especially if Malkin take a bit of a pay cut). He still plays at a high level and honestly I believe 5 years a little bit rough length wise so I see the hesitation if that is indeed true. As for POJ I would rather see him on the 3rd pairing or a young player on the 3rd pairing. I feel like we are paying way to much for underperforming Defenseman. If we Can move out a 4 million LHD and I think POJ can jump right up immediately and fill in… Read more »

Rick
Rick
3 months ago
Reply to  Fredrick

I never said anything about what I would do (regarding Letang) I limited my discussion to what Hextall said about Letang (and Malkin) and their contracts. I do agree with you that the team is paying way too much for D-men who really aren’t living up to their potential. The problem is that the team has spent soo much time over the years focusing on Forwards that the cupboard is extremely bare when it comes to young Defensemen. Furthermore, there is no variation, all of the D-men are clones of each other. There is just about no physicality among them.… Read more »

Fredrick
Fredrick
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick

You hit my biggest issue. Physicality. I think bringing in players like Petry and/or Mayfield from Islanders (who may become available) would help this team significantly especially in the playoffs. I believe we also are missing a net front powerforward type. We just seem to get these fast athletic players which are great, but we lack balance.

concerned penguinfan
concerned penguinfan
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick

letang’s age and injury history he has 2 years tops left in his game. Pens aren’t going to pay him that kind of money so this is probably his last year in pittsburgh

Fredrick
Fredrick
3 months ago

I actually really like the idea of bringing Petry in on our #2 D pairing. I wouldn’t want to trade POJ. I would really like to trade someone like Pettersson, or Matheson to help balance out the cap a bit. Maybe a hockey trade? Pettersson, Kapanen, and Zucker for Drouin and Petry? Or Matheson, Kapanen and Zucker for Anderson and Petry? Just ideas to make the cap hit work and us shed a slight bit of salary.

Kris
Kris
3 months ago

You bring in Petry and you are effectively saying bye bye to letang. How do you fit that 6.250 million dollar salary in next year. HARD PASS

moe
moe
3 months ago

Trade KK, Petterrson for Droiun and “kucherov” Zucker for a strong effective Defenseman

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
3 months ago

Hextall doesn’t make big trades or take any big chances so all this talk is moot

Fredrick
Fredrick
3 months ago

This is true. He mostly made moves in Philly to improve his cap space, build his team with prospects, and retain his own players. I do believe his patience does pay off. He may not swing for a top available player trade, but he does make under the radar moves. Which acquiring Petry could be that move.

Stan Kaplan
Stan Kaplan
3 months ago

We need to stop trading away picks and prospects for old guys. It wrecks the future.

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