TSN reports the Montreal Canadiens have re-signed defenseman Jeff Petry to a six-year, $33 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Petry, 27, was acquired by the Canadiens at the NHL’s March trade deadline and was eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. His new deal is worth an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. Turns out his post-playoff claim that he’d like to return with the Habs weren’t empty words. He obviously enjoyed playing in Montreal and likely didn’t expect to get better offers from other playoff contenders this summer.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin stated last month re-signing Petry was among his priorities. For good reason, too, as the blueliner quickly fit well with the Habs. During the 2015 playoffs, Petry was often singled out by pundits and analysts for his solid performance. His puck-moving skills and physical play took pressure off the Habs top defenseman P.K. Subban, providing a much-needed measure of skilled, experienced depth.
The signing takes a big bite out of the Canadiens cap space for next season, pushing their cap payroll to over $64 million invested in 18 players. Their other notable free agents are RFAs Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu. Both are coming off entry-level deals without arbitration rights, so they’ll likely get affordable two-year bridge deals worth under $5 million combined.
The Canadiens still need scoring punch at forward. Petry’s re-signing and the need to fill out the rest of the roster means Bergevin lacks the cap space able to address that issue via the UFA market, though the pickings there were already slim. A trade is most likely in order, meaning some salary will have to go the other way if the Habs hope to acquire a reliable scorer this summer.