Jeff Petry continued his stellar 2020-21 season on Wednesday night, scoring his tenth goal of the year in a 5-1 victory for the Montreal Canadiens over the Vancouver Canucks. He’s the Habs’ leading scorer through 25 games.
His ten goals lead the NHL among defensemen and his 24 points rank second in the league among defenders, tied with Quinn Hughes. Not to mention that he (+16 rating) and partner Joel Edmundson (+26 rating) lead the NHL in plus-minus.
On Wednesday, the 33-year-old was dynamic in the offensive zone all night, creating multiple scoring chances. He netted goal no. 10 after joining the play off the rush and converting a perfect pass from Jepseri Kotkaniemi. It’s that kind of anticipation, combined with his great skating ability, that makes him a modern-day defenseman who is so effective in today’s NHL.
In the Conversation for the Norris Trophy
On Wednesday, Petry became the first Canadiens’ defenseman in over 80 years to require 25 or fewer games to score 10 goals in a season. He has become Montreal’s best blueliner despite playing on the team’s designated second pair and despite the presence of captain Shea Weber on the roster.
Petry has put up three straight seasons of 40 points or more. Before that, his best output was 28 points in 2016-17 with the Habs. He also scored two game-winning goals in the playoffs last year, helping Montreal upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Qualifying Round. This year, he’s having a career year and is among the favorites to be named a finalist for the Norris Trophy.
The last time the NHL played a shortened season in 2012-13, P.K. Subban won the Norris Trophy as a member of the Canadiens so perhaps that’s a good omen for Petry.
An Important Offseason Signing
Canadiens’ general manager Marc Bergevin made a lot of big moves during the offseason, but perhaps none were more significant than re-signing Petry to a four-year contract extension. Especially considering that he is ageing like a fine wine.
Acquiring him from the Edmonton Oilers ahead of the trade deadline in 2015 is also one of Bergevin’s best trades during his tenure in Montreal. He gave up a second-round draft selection and a conditional fifth-round pick and was able to sign the pending unrestricted free agent to a new six-year deal at season’s end, a contract that has been worth every penny.
Petry will need to continue to be a major contributor to the Habs’ cause, not only for the remainder of the regular season but also in the playoffs if they hope to meet and exceed the lofty expectations that have been placed on them by management as well as Montreal’s passionate fanbase.