Columbus Blue Jacket Playoff Free Agent Profile: Jeff Petry


May 6, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (26) against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of game three of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Your Columbus Blue Jackets are unfortunately sitting at home, or at IIHF Worlds, during this postseason run for the Stanley Cup. We’ve decided to make use of our couch surfing and prepare for our upcoming breakout season while scouting some possible free agents on the market this off-season that could be a great fit with the Jackets. 

Today’s Profile: Jeff Petry D Montreal Canadiens

Game: Game 6 Tampa Bay Lightning vs the Canadiens

Why There Is Interest: Petry is a young unrestricted free agent this off-season who excels at a point of talent deficiency for the Jackets. Petry will be 27 when the season begins with 4 full NHL seasons under his belt, hot off the heels of one of his best which came this past year finishing with career highs in goals (7) and becoming a more well rounded blueliner.  All season long he continued to grow as a player earning most of his praise after a deadline trade freed him from hockey hell and sent him to the playoff bound Canadiens.

“Apart from one late blunder trying to clear the zone, Jeff Petry was—and is—outstanding. Petry is a number 2 D. He will command free agent money like a 2 D in a thin year. Only one GM can give him eight years. Now I am not saying for sure to make that offer but it is sure something to think about seriously because Petry is bloody fantastic. His vision. His patience. His shot. His smarts. His read of the play. I could go on… but I have [a] lot of other guys to mention,” CTV Montreal’s Brian Wilde said after a recent win (also posted here)

What I Noticed: This was a tough game to gauge. The Canadiens were down 3-0 before mounting a 2 game win streak to force Game 6 still down 3-2. When they went down 2-0 still early in the 2nd, remember most of their style was more of a low scoring affair with great goal-tending to contended in games, everything took their toll and the whole team looked exhausted, uninspired and defeated. That said there were some good takeaways.

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He popped first on an extremely physical hit he laid on the defensive blueline. He continued to impress early with his defensive presence. A lot of solid poke checks, bruising physicality in front of the net and great defensive IQ. A few times he slid into the vacant openings when the other defender had to float out of their spot. He displayed great ability to box-out to eliminate rebounds while also staying in front of the oncoming rush to remove great shooting lanes, even on the goal by Steven Stamkos, Petry had solid positioning and stick work, Stamkos just did what only All-Stars can do.

His versatility was also refreshing as he was first out during PK and Power Plays. Showcasing the ability to transition from staunch defender to opportunistic playmaker/goal scorer.

I wasn’t a huge fan of his in the passing game. When receiving the pass, he very rarely eased the puck into the stick resulting in many to pop off, causing an extra second to pass so he could regroup the puck. Seconds are the difference between windows into passing and goal scoring lanes. When he was on the other side, sending the pass, many of his decisions weren’t ideal as the receiver was well covered and resulted in free play on the puck. Though I did like his toughness in this aspect as he would routinely hold the puck till the last second to open up those passing lanes, even if it meant taking a knocking hit.

Final Verdict: Petry will be chased after this off-season by most teams and should definitely be wooed by the Blue Jackets. The Jackets’ point of concern is the blueline now and in the future with not much talent coming up. Ryan Murray is a shining talent, but injury concerns have muddled extreme confidence moving forward.

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Petry would be able to add a dominating physical presence as a top 4 defencemen, if not top 2, for this roster moving forward and being only 27, he should be able to hold it down well into this upcoming Jackets’ Cup Window. His numbers should only increase, much like they did post trade to the Canadiens, being surrounded by more talent here in Columbus than much of his career with the Talent Hell Hole Oilers.

Petry will help improve a defense that ranked towards the bottom this season. The Jackets ranked 3rd worst in the NHL in amount of shots against per game with 33.4 per game. Penalty Killing was also an issue, ranking 23rd in the league with a success rate of 80.2%. He can help drag these numbers out of the basement with his physical, smart and dominating defensive ability. This team can’t succeed putting every game on the back of Sergei Bobrovsky to stop 30 plus shots per game, no one who played over 50 games this past season averaged that many saves per game (Bob led all with 29.37 saves per game). They need to limit those shots, even altering or decreasing quality shots if the Jackets want playoff talk to be a realistic conversation.

Next: Is Mike Reilly Leaving the Columbus Blue Jackets?