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Jeff Petry: for the first time, Kent Hughes has moved with more short-term thinking
For the fourth time in the last decade, the Canadiens have managed to trade Jeff Petry. And while the first three were fairly straightforward wins, the fourth may leave a bitter taste in the mouth for some.

After all, one could hope for either a small return without withholding too much salary or something good by withholding salary… but here, the GM got something more modest by withholding 50% of the remaining salary.

The situation is more complex than other times. After all, picking him up this summer meant letting him go eventually, so as not to bring him back to town.

Did Kent Hughes feel the pressure, either from the public or from the community itself, to move? By August 15, he might have, but that’s not necessarily the case either.

In reality, especially considering the club to which Petry was traded (the Red Wings in his neck of the woods), I get the feeling that Kent Hughes – like last year – did his defenseman a favor by sending him to a great environment – even if he’s still in the division.

And in my view, given that Petry is undoubtedly happy with the GM and the word has to get out, this isn’t a bad thing. He must have been thinking of his reputation as a GM who wants to treat his players well, and for that, he succeeded.

But hey. At this point, you still have to wonder if the GM did the right thing by moving this way.

After all, even from the perspective that we don’t know how the goaltending situation will end, here’s what’s been happening in Montreal for a little over a week.

  • In Montreal: 37.5% of Petry’s salary until 2025, Casey DeSmith, Nathan Légaré, a second-round pick in 2025, Gustav Lindström and a fourth-round pick in 2025
  • Elsewhere: Mike Hoffman, Rem Pitlick… and Jeff Petry

What I’ve noticed is that, for the first time since he took over as GM, Kent Hughes hasn’t focused on the long term. He’s been thinking a little more short-term.

Am I saying this is a bad thing? No, not necessarily. After all, there will come a point when the CH will have to start winning a few more games.

But it’s still a statement of fact that, for the first time as GM, Hughes has withheld salary for more than a year. For the next 22 and a half months, Jeff Petry will be on the Habs’ payroll at $2.3 million.

Between Joel Edmundson (still 10.5 months) and Petry, there’s only one salary retention spot left at the moment.

Next summer, instead of seeing Mike Hoffman and Rem Pitlick leave, the GM has chosen to get rid of them now in order to move up and get – at NHL level – Casey DeSmith (UFA in one year), Gustav Lindström (RFA in one year)… and Jeff Petry. We know how it all turned out.

Clearly, my understanding is that the goal was to take Mike Hoffman out of the equation.

Whatever the reason (be it roster spot, be it his attitude or whatever), Kent Hughes prioritized the forward’s departure. And the fact that San Jose missed out on Vladimir Tarasenko played right into the Flannel’s hands.

Thank you, Senators.

From the CH’s “long-term” point of view, letting go of a one-year contract to keep Petry’s $2.3 million for another 12 months isn’t ideal – and wasn’t in the house’s habits either.

But then again, the CH is starting to change its mentality as the rebuilding process moves forward. And getting Hoffman out for CH reasons was becoming important.

The CH is making room for its young players, and I like that. They got a guy out who everyone wanted to leave, and I like that.

With the cap expected to rise in a year’s time, the CH can afford to keep some salary. Ideally, Kent Hughes wouldn’t have done it, but I understand why he did because Hoffman…


At this point, you might think that the reason the whole thing has been set in motion in the last two weeks is to get rid of Mike Hoffman. But is there any world where it’s really to get Casey DeSmith?

I have a feeling not, as I can’t see the CH trading Samuel Montembeault or Jake Allen right now, but who knows? Maybe a goalie is injured, too…

But as DeSmith was kept in the shadows for a while, I really think it was Mike Hoffman who made the GM think that he had to move at all costs (or almost).

To be continued.

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