Should the Montreal Canadiens Trade Jeff Petry?

After 57 games, the Montreal Canadiens sit five points back of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and six back in the wild card race. That may not seem like it is too much of an uphill climb, especially as the Canadiens have been surging, having won 9 of their last 12 games as of Feb. 10.

Marc Bergevin Montreal Canadiens
Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Yet, with 25 games left to play, and all five teams they are chasing in the standings also holding games in hand, it may be too little too late for the Habs this season. Even though the odds are against the Canadiens making the playoffs, general manager Marc Bergevin has confirmed with Renaud Lavoie of TVA that they are not shopping Petry at this time with Lavoie reporting: (translated from French)

“They are not on the trade block. They will not be traded unless the Canadiens recieve their weight in gold which will not happen”

Why Should He Stay?

The current Canadiens’ right-handed defencemen depth is uncertain. Cale Fleury is still too raw, Noah Juulsen’s future is uncertain due to his recent injury woes and Josh Brook is not ready to play as a regular NHL defenceman yet.

Keeping Petry is the only sensible option. The Canadiens can ill afford to move him and have any hopes of icing a team capable of making the playoffs next season. His value to the team now has reached its peak as he has to take on the role of number-one defenceman since Shea Weber has been placed on the injured reserve (IR) list for a lower-body injury (LBI).

Jeff Petry Montreal Canadiens
Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Last season, Petry had a career season, playing in every game for only the third time in his career. He scored 46 points playing a more physical style while averaging 23 minutes per game. This season, he is on pace to score 50 points while averaging a career high of 23 minutes and 30 seconds per game. Head coach Claude Julien will be relying heavily on Petry while Weber recovers from his LBI.

As mentioned above, it would take a major deal to convince Bergevin to pull the trigger on a trade where he would have to lose his second-best defenceman. 

Weight in Gold

The type of scenario necessary to pry Petry out of a Habs sweater is similar to the one that saw Max Pacioretty moved to the Vegas Golden Knights.

A rival general manager in desperate need of a defenceman would have to provide one of similar caliber who needs a change of scenery to fill into Petry’s current role. Then he would need to add a top prospect capable of making the leap to the NHL within a year, as well as a high draft pick.

Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry
MONTREAL, QC – FEBRUARY 03: Montreal Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry (26) skates towards the puck during the Edmonton Oilers versus the Montreal Canadiens game on Feb. 03, 2019, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

That is a very expensive deal for a team looking to add for a playoff push, especially the roster player part. The team trading for him will likely want to keep as much of its roster intact to ensure their best chances during the playoffs. Meaning, it is highly unlikely a team would want to move that many important assets at the trade deadline.

Rebuild or Compete

The arguments will continue between the two camps in the Canadiens fanbase. Do they continue the rebuilding process by trading away Petry — who is now their top defenceman — hoping he can net Bergevin several quality assets? Or, do they keep Petry and wait for the injuries to heal and younger players to mature so they can start chasing a playoff spot again next October? If Bergevin is to be taken at his word about always competing for the playoffs, the Canadiens likely won’t trade their second-best defenceman at this time.