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Penguins BIG Trade: Petry & Poehling to Pens, Matheson to Montreal



Penguins trade, Jeff Petry, Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins trade No. 2 was the big one. Earlier Saturday, the Penguins dished John Marino and his $4.4 million cap hit to the New Jersey Devils for young, skilled defenseman Ty Smith. GM Ron Hextall promptly used that extra salary cap space to add improve the blue line with Montreal Canadiens RHD Jeff Petry but had to give up resurgent defenseman Mike Matheson.

The Penguins are also including a draft pick.

The NHL trade rumors have linked the Penguins to Jeff Petry for months, but that was typically in response to the tenuous contract negotiations with Kris Letang. Last week at the NHL draft, Hextall and Montreal GM Kent Hughes had extended conversations though nothing immediately came of it.

Petry, 34, is the second right-handed defenseman acquired this week. The Penguins also signed big righty Jan Rutta to a three-year contract with a $2.75 million AAV.

Last season, Petry requested a trade near midseason but rescinded it when the atmosphere in Montreal changed after Martin St. Louis was named coach. Petry slumped to 27 points (6-21-27) in 68 games.

Petry scored more than 40 points in the four prior seasons.

The Penguins are also acquiring big forward Ryan Poehling. The big forward was a first-round pick in 2017 but is generally a third or fourth-line player with limited offensive contributions. The 23-year-old brings size to the Penguins’ bottom six. He’s 6-foot-2, 207 pounds.

Last season, Poehling scored 17 points (9-8-17) in 56 games.

Our colleagues at Montreal Hockey Now tell us that Poehling has good size and skates well, but hasn’t yet established himself as a guaranteed NHL regular. Poehling is seen as a center, though he can play the wings. He’s also had concussion issues.

The Penguins had a glut of left-handed defensemen when P.O Joseph signed an NHL contract last Monday. The Penguins had nine defensemen but six lefties. They still have nine after acquiring Petry but have more balance.

The Penguins spent much of the money they saved in the Marino deal and added about $2.2 million, which leaves them with about $1 million of cap space remaining, with RFA Kasperi Kapanen still waiting for a new deal.

Matheson, 28, was a rising star on the Penguins’ blue line. Since being acquired for Patric Hornqvist is the summer of 2020, Matheson played an increasing role, including on the Penguins’ top pair late last season and for occasions in the playoffs.

Last season, he scored 31 points with 11 goals and was a plus-11. He has four more seasons remaining on his contract with a $4.875 million cap hit.

At first glance, losing Matheson, who scored more points, makes less money, and is much younger than Petry would seem a curious decision.

Update: Hextall confirmed Ty Smith, acquired earlier for John Marino, is waiver exempt, which could aid the Penguins’ roster construction.