Hughes: Petry deals could set stage for future moves
For a total cost of retaining $2.34 million of Jeff Petry's salary, the Montreal Canadiens have been able to load up on assets with two trades in the span of nine days.
The Canadiens jumped in to help the Pittsburgh Penguins complete their trade for San Jose Sharks star Erik Karlsson on Aug. 6. Montreal acquired Petry - with Pittsburgh retaining $1.56 million of his $6.25 million cap hit - along with goaltender Casey DeSmith, prospect Nathan Legare and a 2025 second-round pick.
Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes moved winger Rem Pitlick to the Penguins and sent Mike Hoffman to the Sharks as part of the three-team deal.
Hughes then moved Petry to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, retaining the $2.34 million, in exchange for defenceman Gustav Lindstrom and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2025. The general manager said after the trade he had promised Petry when he was first acquired that his stay in Montreal would be brief.
"I'm a believer in general, whether it be players or people, that you do the right thing. I called Jeff (after the trade from Pittsburgh) and said, 'Listen, I know you didn't go to bed expecting to hear from me this morning. I was probably one of the last people you expected.' I know they, as a family, were uptight. They've got four young boys and they were about to start school in two weeks," Hughes said.
"I gave him my word and said, 'Listen, we saw an opportunity here to facilitate the trade between Pittsburgh and San Jose and to help ourselves, but we're mindful that you've got a family and your own career, and Montreal is probably not the place you're expecting to play.' I promised him that we would work expeditiously to get him moved and that we wouldn't drag this out to try to maximize every piece of value in the trade. I spoke with Jeff again and he was thankful.
"That doesn't mean we are going to do things that are against the organization's interest, but when we can work together to do what's best for ourselves and the players, we'll always do that. We hope over time, players take note and want to be a part of it."
After acquiring two draft picks in his wheeling and dealing this month, Hughes appears to be already setting the stage for another move in the future.
"I believe that as we accumulate draft capital - and we've used it in the past - it probably gives us a little bit of a luxury to maybe slightly overpay to acquire a player that we want that can help us compete in the window that we believe we can do it in," Hughes said Tuesday.
Habs happy to gain roster space
In parting with Pitlick and Hoffman in their three-team trade, Hughes said the Canadiens opened up valuable space on the roster, clearing the way for younger players to gain playing time.
Pitlick - signed through the upcoming season at a $1.1 million cap hit - had six goals and 15 points in 46 games last season, while also seeing time in the AHL. Hoffman, who is also entering the final year of his contract carrying a $4.5 million cap hit, had 14 goals and 34 points in 67 games.
"We were able to trade two contracts that we wanted to move in order to make room for younger players… for the likes of [Rafael] Harvey-Pinard and [Jesse] Ylonen's chances to crack the lineup, all while continuing to acquire draft capital that we could either use or trade, as we've done previously to acquire younger players that we feel will be part of our core group moving forward," Hughes said.
The two August deals are just the latest in a busy off-season for the Canadiens, that has included acquiring Alex Newhook via trade and shipping Joel Edmundson to the Washington Capitals for two draft picks.
Montreal was quiet in free agency, but kept veteran centre Sean Monahan on a one-year, $1.99 million contract ahead of the market opening and locked up winger Cole Caufield long term with an eight-year, $62.8 million deal.