Jeff Petry has been the Montreal Canadiens’ best puck moving defenseman in his two full years with the club (2015/16 and 2016/17). Marc Bergevin acquired Petry at the 2014/15 trade deadline for a 2nd and conditional 5th (a great deal in hindsight). Why would Edmonton – with their weak blue line at the time – deal Petry? What led Bergevin to target Petry and then sign him to a long-term deal? Let’s examine.
Let’s start by looking at Petry from 2011-2014 (his 3 seasons before he was traded to Montreal – and the most data points any team looking to acquire him would have).
Petry definitely suffered from the “public perception” stats (also known as the “bad team” stats). He averaged ~20-25 points and was mostly a minus player: -7 in 2011/12, +1 in the lockout shortened 2012/13, and a very poor -22 in 2013/14. You’d also see a poor 47% Corsi For percentage over the 3 years. Most of these stats reflect the poor team Petry was a part of.
We used our approach to puck movement during the same time (2011-14) and Petry’s 3-year average was a PMF of +1.66. That is akin to an above average 2nd pairing possession-driving d-man. The reason we show his average over the 3 years (vs his 3 individual years) is because at the time of assessing a trade you would likely consider a 3-year time period of data points to ensure as many data points as possible.
In fact, if you look at his full years in that same span (and isolate the lock-out shortened year), Petry had PMF scores of +2.42 and +3.32 over 70+ games each year. Those are tremendous top-pairing numbers. In fact, Petry’s “bad team” numbers such as Corsi For %, plus minus, etc. masked what an effective defenseman Petry actually was.
While Petry had a slightly below par year in 2014/15 (the year he was acquired by Montreal), he quickly regained form and has been a stalwart on the Habs blue line since. Some may be surprised to see him so effective at 5v5 with the Habs, but the reality is he’s been effective pretty much his entire career.