Montreal Canadiens cut salaries, sends veteran defenseman Jeff Petrie, 34, to Pittsburgh Penguins

The Montreal Canadiens traded a veteran defenseman Jeff PetriAlong with forward Ryan Boehlingto the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday in exchange for a defenseman Mike Matheson and a fourth-round draft option in 2023.

Petrie signed for the next three seasons with a $6.25 million maximum salary. Montreal did not keep any of his salary in the transaction.

The 12-year-old veteran appeared in 803 NHL games between the Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers. Petrie was traded with Montreal in 2015 and enjoyed a mostly successful period with the club. Most recently, the 34-year-old struggled under former coach Dominique Ducharme, and Petrie asked to leave Montreal last November.

Ducharme was fired mid-season, and while Petrie’s performance improved under the new coach Martin St. LouisThe veteran is still hoping to move for family reasons.

“When you trade for good players, you have to let go of good players. Mike is a good player. We feel that Jeff, at this point, is a little better for us,” Ron Hextal said in a video press conference. “He can play all the situations, he can score big minutes.”

It was also clear that Canadians were entering a phase of rebuilding that would focus on their youthful core. Petry’s contract made it difficult for General Manager Kent Hughes to find a willing business partner, especially since Hughes wasn’t keen on dumping Petry anywhere or keeping any of his hat on the books.

No agreement was reached before the March deadline, and Petrie finished a relegation season in Montreal with six goals and 27 points in 68 games.

Hughes said last week that moving Petrie was a “priority” but stressed it had to be the right deal for Montreal. Completing the trade now gives Canadians much-needed maximum flexibility with roughly $2.4 million in room for the next season.

Poehling is a former first-round pick (25th place) by Montreal in 2017. The 23-year-old had a great depth in 85 NHL games with 13 goals and 22 points. He was signed until the end of next season.

The Penguins were looking for a right-handed defending man, and Petrie’s substitution for the left-hand lead Matheson helps them do so. However, Pittsburgh has an abundance of NHL defenders as it stands and will now pay Petrie nearly $2 million more per season than Matheson was. This may be one of several moves the penguins make to sort out their predicament. Earlier on Saturday, Pittsburgh dealt a defensive man John Marino25, to the New Jersey Devils for a defensive man Ty Smith22, and a third-round choice in next year’s draft.

Matheson should be a solid addition to Montreal. He’s coming off a career season in Pittsburgh’s second double (11 goals, 31 points in 74 games), loves to play in transition but doesn’t sacrifice in his own territory. The 28-year-old does not expect to be a better duet player but should make consistent contributions.

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