Jeff Petry : A Stabilizing Presence

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by Michael Ham-Fan, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

Montreal Canadiens v San Jose Sharks
(Photo by Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)


“I loved what I saw, he is a guy that skates well and makes good passes, I really love what I saw.”

MONTREAL, QC. – That quote is from Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien, in his post-game press conference complimenting Jeff Petry‘s first game as a Canadiens player, despite his team’s 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Petry has since then played four more games and he is showing us, progressively, why he is an excellent addition to the Montreal defense.

The 6-foot-3 defenceman was dealt by the Edmonton Oilers to the Montreal Canadiens in return for a second round pick and a conditional fifth round pick on March 2nd.

As coach Therrien said, Petry is an impressive skater for his size. I was immediately blown away by his speed on his first game in San Jose when he kept the puck in the offensive zone on a power-play with a few quick strides, coming from the left wall to the right wall in a matter of seconds.

Also, he has shown, in his five games with the Habs, that he is not only a fast skater but he is also a very accurate passer. He rarely fans on a pass or a shot and his release is very crisp and precise. He is slowly gaining trust from his coaches and his ice-time was well over twenty minutes in his last two games, 26:25 and 23:44 respectively. He has solidified and stabilized a Montreal defense that was depending too much on it’s top pairing.

One of Petry’s best attributes is his endurance. In fact, he has averaged at least 20 minutes per night, in every single season since his NHL debut and he has very rarely missed a game. Before the NHL, Jeff Petry has played all three of his college (NCAA) seasons with Michigan State University without missing a single game.

Then, in his professional career, he has dressed for 342 out of a possible 360 games, all while maintaining a hefty load of minutes per night. That is impressive considering that he is a defenceman that hits a lot, given they are not huge hits, but he is much more physical than a lot of people thinks. I strongly believe that he will be a huge contributor and log big minutes in the playoffs.

Since his arrival with the Canadiens, Jeff Petry has been paired up with defenceman, Tom Gilbert, his ex-teammate from the Edmonton Oilers back in 2010. Gilbert has been giving Petry advice on how to adapt to the Canadiens system and the pairing has been playing some great hockey together.

They form an unusual pair because they are both right-handed shots. To facilitate Petry’s adaptation, Gilbert is now playing on the left side which makes it difficult for him to receive or to pass the puck because his stick curves toward the boards. Despite that, Gilbert is playing solid defensively, while Petry has the green light to go help the offense out when the opening is there. The pair had a combined 10 blocked shots Saturday night against the Coyotes and seven against the Lightning on Tuesday.

“So far, I don’t think there’s been much adjustment for me. Gilbert has said that he’s kind of new to the left side, so it’s more for him. Every now and then, you’ll catch yourself passing in front of him and thinking he’s a lefty and his stick is on the wrong side. There are some minor adjustments for me, but I think the bigger adjustment is for Gibby going to the left.” — Jeff Petry

They both played over twenty minutes in their last three games and their stellar play might actually make a case for keeping Gilbert in the lineup, even when Alexei Emelin returns. Hockey experts around the Habs are expecting Gilbert to be out of the lineup as soon as Emelin returns, explaining why they are playing Gilbert on the wrong side.

The 27-year-old’s contract is expiring at the end of this current season. This is the first time that Petry will be an unrestricted free agent and his representative, Wade Arnott of Newport Sports Management clearly told the Oilers that his client wanted to hit the free agency market.  Petry currently has a salary of $3.075 M and it is speculated that he would be seeking something in the $4 – 5 million per year range.

There will be many teams interested in this relatively young, big and mobile defenceman. Personally, I do not think that we will have the cap space to keep Petry, but I would like Marc Bergevin to figure out a way to keep him here.  On the bright side, it is likely that Sergei Gonchar‘s $5M and Mike Weaver‘s $1.75M salaries will be coming off the books.  In addition, Bryan Allen‘s departure to free agency (currently playing with the Hamilton Bulldogs) will provide some relief.

In a team where quick transition on the counter-attack is key, Jeff Petry is and should be a key piece on the defense. If he plays well in theses upcoming playoffs, I think that that Marc Bergevin will try his best to keep him here.  If fans make him feel welcomed and he falls in love with the city of Montreal, he may be convinced to stay on a winning team. These playoffs will be Petry’s first NHL playoff experience in his five-year career.


Sources :
HockeyDB : http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=94006
NHL.com : http://www.nhl.com/ice/player.htm?id=8473507
Michel Therrien post-game RAW : http://video.canadiens.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=768095

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Michael Ham-Fan
Lien vers mes articles en français : http://fr.allhabs.net/author/mhamfan/ -------------------Michael is a Staff Writer for All Habs Magazine. He completed a bachelor's degree in Psychology at the Université de Montréal and is now doing his Masters' degree at the Université de Sherbrooke in Clinical Sciences. Michael has been a hockey fan and a Habs fans pretty much all his life, so for the last two decades and a half. He was born in Montreal to a Chinese mother and a Honduran-Chinese father, so he is fluent in French, English and Cantonese. He understands Spanish and Mandarin but not enough to speak it. His objective in writing is to give information and to give his opinion. At no point will he try to act as an expert on the subject. Michael is humbled to be able to write on hockey and that has always been a dream for him. He attends a lot of hockey games and practices during the year (Habs, Juniors etc.) and when he is not at the game, he is watching them at home, so he will base his opinion a lot on what he has actually seen rather than what he has heard. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Michael est un chroniqueur pour Le Magazine All Habs. Il a complété un baccalauréat spécialisé en Psychologie à l'Université de Montréal et il est maintenant, à sa première année en maîtrise en Sciences Cliniques à l'Université de Sherbrooke. Michael a été un amateur de hockey et un partisan des Canadiens depuis les vingt-cinq dernières années. Il parle quotidiennement en français, en anglais et en cantonais. Il comprend aussi l'espagnol et le mandarin sans être très fluide. Michael a appris que la modestie et le respect étaient deux valeurs nécessaires dans la vie. Son approche pour écrire des articles est de donner son opinion basée sur de l'information concrète. Son but n'est surtout pas de se prendre pour un expert. Il assiste très souvent à des matchs de hockey (Canadiens, Juniors, etc.) et lorsqu'il n'est pas dans les estrades, il les regarde chez lui. Donc, son opinion sera basée sur ce qu'il aura vu, plus que ce qu'il aurait entendu. Donc, ses articles ne seront jamais écrits sous le point de vue d'un expert, mais bien celui d'un amateur qui veut susciter la discussion avec ses pairs.

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