MONTREAL | Kent Hughes has revealed much of his game. The general manager of the Canadiens still has a priority of exchanging Jeff Petry, but he will only do so if he finds a team likely to fully absorb his salary of 6.25 million for the next three seasons.
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"We're still working, we're talking to some teams for Jeff Petry," Hughes confirmed early Thursday afternoon, just over 24 hours after the free agent market opened. It was the priority for us to trade it, if we could make a trade that works for us too. »
“Petry is an important defender for our team. We are not looking to trade him for his game, but because of family circumstances. If we trade it, we must gain flexibility under the cap. »
Petry has been knocking on the door of CH for several months now to change address. The 34-year-old American has nothing against the organization, but he would like to be on American soil for family reasons.
Parents of four boys, Jeff and Julia Petry have often criticized the health restrictions related to Covid-19. Ms. Petry's mother still cannot come to Canada since she has not received her doses of the vaccine.
"We could complete a trade, we had options," Hughes said. But you have to find a transaction that makes sense. If not, Jeff will have to come back to Montreal. He loves everything about Montreal except the complications for the family. We don't need to come to an exchange today or tomorrow. It can happen in a month. »
The cases of Burns and McDonagh
The Habs chose to maintain a firm stance on Petry's case. The rookie GM has no intention of keeping any portion of his defenseman's hefty contract and he won't trade a prospect or draft picks to convince a team to dance with him.
Julien BriseBois and Mike Grier, the GMs of the Lightning and the Sharks, however, did not help the cause of the Canadian. BriseBois received next to nothing in exchange for Ryan McDonagh with the Nashville Predators, getting defenseman Philippe Myers and winger Grant Mismach.
In the case of the Sharks, Grier agreed to pay 33% of defenseman Brent Burns' last three seasons salary in the trade with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Burns will earn eight million through 2024-25, but he will have a 5.28 million salary footprint with the "Canes." Despite his 37 years, the man with the big beard had a season of 54 points (10 goals, 44 assists) in 82 games last year in San Jose.
The Sharks received two fringe players in winger Steven Lorentz and goaltender Eetu Makiniemi and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2023.
Asked about the departures of McDonagh and Burns, Hughes offered a clear answer.
“We are not ready to take salary for Jeff Petry at the moment.
For us, we believe that our interests are better served to keep Jeff Petry than to make this type of transaction. We can be happy to keep him in Montreal. »
“If we trade Petry, we will have another hole at the blue line, he continued. We don't have a lot of experience on the right side. We also want to protect our young hopefuls. »
To illustrate the difficulty for a GM to drop salary, we must also give the example of the Vegas Golden Knights with Max Pacioretty. They traded the former CH captain to the Hurricanes for mere future considerations. And there was only one season left on Pacioretty's $7 million contract.