Flyers Shouldn’t Trade for Jeff Petry

The Philadelphia Flyers are all but out of the playoff race this season and have to think about selling off their assets and upcoming unrestricted free agents to help build their team for next season and beyond. That includes possible players like Claude Giroux, Rasmus Ristolainen, Justin Braun, Martin Jones, Derick Brassard, and more. That being said, I don’t think every one of them will be traded, but it remains speculation which players will be.

The Montreal Canadiens are in the same boat, but there is no doubt at all they are selling before the trade deadline. They have already started by sending Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames, and much more is to come. Ben Chiarot is certainly going to be traded by the deadline — to who is yet to be seen. Another veteran defenceman with a little more term on his contract has come up as well, Jeff Petry.

Why the Flyers Would be Linked to Petry

The Flyers are a team that has a lot of decisions to make about their defence and the team in general before the trade deadline and in the offseason. They have three defencemen signed after this season named Ivan Provorov, Ryan Ellis, and Travis Sanheim. All three make significant money for the results that have come with it. Ellis can be excluded from that, but as a general standpoint, he has only contributed four games to the Flyers since being acquired.

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

They have five defencemen who are unrestricted free agents after this season, and the worry is that they may not be able to re-sign Ristolainen. The goal is to do just that, as general manager Chuck Fletcher has stated that they acquired him with the mindset of re-signing him long-term.

With the big changes going on in Montreal and moves expected to be made in Philadelphia along with the uncertainty of some big names currently on the team, it has created this illusion that the Flyers could be a destination for Petry. With all the prospects the Flyers have and the roster players the Canadiens are willing to trade, making a deal with one another could make sense, but the offseason would be much more likely.

Positives/Negative of the Flyers Trading for Petry

Petry has flipped a switch and looks like his old self with the Canadiens’ new head coach Martin St. Louis. He has two goals and five points in the past four games as well as a plus-3 over that span. The previous 40 games saw him get only one goal and six points.

Though Petry is aging (34 years old), he didn’t really break out to be a dominant player offensively until he was 30 years old. A defenceman like Mark Giordano won the Norris Trophy at age 35, so it’s not out of the question that some defencemen can still play at a high level into their mid-30s. With a contract of $6.25 million average annual value (AAV) for three more seasons, that’s a gamble for any team to take on despite his last four seasons and his recent improvement in performance.

Petry is a top-pair defenceman and is paid like it, so with the Flyers already having Ryan Ellis signed for five more seasons at the exact same price, that would be an overpayment for a second-pair defenceman who is moving out of his prime. You could expect Petry to still play at a high level and even put up 30-40 points in a season, but the money he will be getting will become more prominent if the Flyers are looking for cap space to sign other assets and they don’t have it.

Acquiring Petry Wouldn’t Work

Since the Flyers have Ellis and Ristolainen for the time being, bringing in another right defenceman would all but force the team to either trade Ristolainen or let him walk in free agency. Both wouldn’t get the return they paid for him and the team would be giving up even more to acquire Petry.

Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers
Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Flyers should be looking to fill their back end with players who can be trusted and relied upon defensively, as they have Cam York ready to be a part of the team. If they were even thinking about the possibility, it would set the team back a step for a couple of years. Even though we haven’t heard much in the way of contract talks with Ristolainen, the Flyers would be willing to bank on signing a player who fits the role of a second-pairing defenceman, is physical, younger, and will cost less for a longer period of time. Many may forget that Ristolainen put together four consecutive 40-point seasons as a member of the Buffalo Sabres who weren’t very good.

Related: Flyers: 3 Young Hurricanes Trade Targets

There will be lots of options out there to fill the defensive depth with rather than taking a gamble on an aging defenceman with term. The Flyers have a big offseason ahead of them, but will also be able to help themselves out before the deadline in possibly acquiring younger talent to make an immediate impact. Petry should be traded since the Canadiens are in rebuild mode, but the Flyers should be left off the list of possible teams, even with the uncertainty of Ristolainen.

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