get penguins: Defenseman Jeff Petry and Forward Ryan Poehling
Canadians get: Defenseman Michael Matheson and a 2023 fourth-round pick
Shayna Goldman: So the penguins weren’t done yet. We can see why they cleared up some cap space with the John Marino deal, as Jeff Petry comes in slightly higher (albeit a year down) than Mike Matheson. It’s interesting that Pittsburgh moved Emily Matheson’s husband after such a great year. Pittsburgh needs to sell high and if there are concerns he would not repeat his 2021-22 season, they no longer have to worry.
Matheson is valuable as a second pair defender who can help transition the puck up ice. But he’ll be much more exposed in Montreal so the coaches need to control his effort to keep him at his best. Overall, the Canadians are getting a defender that’s younger and costs less, which should help in a few years as they retool to become more competitive.
Petry is still very good and although 2021/22 wasn’t his best he managed to make a positive impression five-a-side at both ends of the ice despite the team falling apart around him. Now he should have a lot more support in Pittsburgh. The 34-year-old has three years left on his contract (and the Penguins have not withheld any salary). So if things go wrong – and they tend to have defenders in their mid to late 30s – it could cripple his new club. It’s just super clear that Pittsburgh is now focused on the rights, as they should be with their core group staying in place. You can fathom the future later.
Some cheap forward depth in Ryan Poehling isn’t a bad addition for Pittsburgh, either. Who knows? Maybe he will be the next Evan Rodrigues as the Sidney Crosby effect is real.
The trade came as a bit of a surprise, but it seems good enough on both sides.
Pittsburgh penguins: B
Montreal Canadiens: B+
The Canadians traded Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Mike Matheson and a fourth-round pick in 2023.#GoHabsGo https://t.co/71Iu11Itmv
— Canadiens Montreal (@CanadiensMTL) July 16, 2022
Sean Gentille: When Ron Hextall made his last trade – John Marino for Ty Smith – I thought I knew what the next one was going to be. I thought wrong.
Hextall hasn’t done anything about his surplus of NHL defensemen, but he has switched personnel. Mike Matheson (left flank, top-4, attacking talent, emerging from the most rounded season of his uneven NHL career), Petry (right flank, top pair, emerging from a brutal season after several years of excellence), along with forward Ryan Poehling (a 2017 first-round pick who could be among the bottom six players for Pittsburgh this season).
From a Cap perspective, Hextall added $2.125 million to Pittsburgh’s tally while Montreal gave up the same amount. Petry carries a $6.25 AAV for three more seasons and Poehling is at $750,000; Matheson is $4.875 million for four.
At Petry, if last season was a deviation, the Penguins are getting an aging, offensively productive, well-rounded presence on the right that Kris Letang can spell more effectively than, say, Marino if need be. The matter? Petry is 34, which makes it unwise to assume last year’s decline was entirely due to a season’s disaster in Montreal. Pittsburgh seems to be betting on something else.
In Matheson, despite last season being an aberration, the Canadiens are getting an often-electric, often-crazy player whose flaws don’t adequately offset his gifts. The plus side? Matheson has made great strides over the past season; The mistakes are still there, but he’s made fewer of them.
Poehling is something of a necessary addition to Pittsburgh, even if he’s no closer to his potential. After years of neglect, the Penguins prospect system lacks cheap, quality depth forward.
The pay stuff is mostly a wash. Pittsburgh’s near-term outlook should matter less than adding players better equipped for a final run with the Crosby/Malkin/Letang core. Montreal gets a little more room for the next few seasons and an extra year of control over Matheson, who could be well underpaid by the time he enters free agency as a 32-year-old.
This could be a cop-out, but this feels like another “good for both teams” deal. Neither defender is perfect and both feel like they’d be a better fit in their new spots. Montreal did well to add a legitimate second man given Petry’s trade request. If Kent Hughes wants to take Matheson somewhere else in the next few years, he likely will be able to do so. Pittsburgh bet on Petry to catch up. If that happens, they’ll be a little better off with him (and Poehling) on the roster than Matheson this season. And at this point, Hextall shouldn’t matter much anymore. Time to see what he does next.
Pittsburgh penguins: B+
Montreal Canadiens: B
Dom Luszczyszyn: Judging by the brand equity, this looks like a big win for the penguins. Jeff Petry has long been a legitimate top pair defender, while Mike Matheson has long been viewed as an overpaid top 4 border defender. Considering the modest uptick in cap hits (particularly following the departure of John Marino), the Penguins look like they’ve done very well here on the surface.
But something interesting happened in the last year — Petry’s stock fell while Matheson’s stock rose. Prior to last season, Petry was rated at 1.8 wins, which is the No. 1 defender’s bottom-tier territory. Meanwhile, Matheson had about 0.3 wins, which is the lowest mating fodder. But after a difficult year for Petry and a breakout campaign for Matheson, the duo are valued almost equally. That explains why they essentially traded for each other, with Petry fitting into Pittsburgh’s current timeline and Matheson having some advantages while giving Montreal additional cap space. Win.
The model is currently on Matheson’s site, quite lightly, and there are two ways to look at it: age and history. On the age side, Matheson may look more appealing, being six years younger than Petry – last year may have been a sign of decline. On the Priors side, 2021-22 was an anomaly for both defenders and a return to normal favors Petry. I lean towards the latter and like this bet for the penguins for that reason. In Pittsburgh’s system, with the depth of the team up front, Petry should thrive and get back to his old ways.
Pittsburgh penguins: A-
Montreal Canadiens: B+
Corey Proman: Ryan Poehling is a former top contender whose transition to pro hockey hasn’t been as smooth as hoped. He’s a very smart center with good enough skills and levels of competition. He’s not a great skater, however, and the offense in his game doesn’t overly excite you. His game has enough to make you think he could be a longtime bottom six center with a (dwindling) chance of more.
Jeff Petry is getting old enough and he’s not the player he once was while getting paid big for three more seasons. Still a strong right-footed defender with size, he is a highly intelligent puck mover and can add offense in the NHL while holding his own defensively.
Michael Matheson’s skating skills have always been outstanding. Because of his feet, he can switch pucks at a clear NHL level. His hockey flair is average, so he doesn’t excel at either end of the rink. He’s a solid third-pair defender who can play a bigger role in Montreal.
For my money I would beat Petry in a game against Matheson tomorrow, although I don’t know if that will be the case in a year or two. The Penguins get the best player in the deal and a decent young player – even if Petry is overpaid at this stage in his career. Montreal are coming off Poehling who hasn’t lived up to expectations and in Matheson they now have a younger defender than Petry who they can fill minutes with in a difficult few years and are likely to look for more young talent in the future.
Pittsburgh penguins: B+
Montreal Canadiens: B
(Photo by Jeff Petry: John Cordes/NHLI via Getty Images)