Unlike fellow pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Cody Franson, Jeff Petry had no real desire to test the open market once he was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens.
Petry, who was acquired by the Habs from the Edmonton Oilers on March 2, inked a six-year deal worth a reported $33 million on Tuesday.
“I mean it was something that never really crossed my mind. Once I started negotiating with the Canadiens, my family, my wife and I made a decision that we really strongly wanted to come back,” said Petry. “We’re just happy a deal could be made rather quickly.”
Petry said contract talks went back and forth for roughly two weeks before picking up steam yesterday and today.
During the Canadiens locker clean out day following the second round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Petry had conversations with several of his teammates. A chat with two teammates in particular went a long way in the 27-year-old re-signing in Montreal.
“Everyone was packing up and saying goodbyes for the summer,” Petry recalled. “I had a couple guys that came up to me and wish me good luck with everything that would happen over the summer, but expressed that they would really like to have me back.
“That meant a lot. Hearing from guys like (P.K.) Subban and guys like (Carey) Price, guys that play a key role on this team – hearing that from them, it weighed in a lot on the decision.”
Petry had three goals and seven points in 19 regular season games for the Habs following the trade while averaging over 22 minutes a night in ice time. He added two goals and an assist in 12 playoff games.
“He is a solid defenseman with speed and size who acquired valuable playoff experience this year,” said Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin in a statement. “Jeff is a very good fit within our group of defensemen and his presence gives us a lot of depth at this position.”
Petry’s new deal carries an annual average value of $5.5 million – a nice bump in pay from the $3.075 million he made during the 2014-15 season; however, Petry is not concerned about increased expectations next season.
“It’s something that comes with it, but when I spoke with Marc today, after signing the contract, he said the way you played coming to this team earned the contract that you’ve been given,” Petry said. “That’s something that he said shouldn’t change. He kind of stressed (not to) change your style of play because of it. Don’t let it influence the way you play.”
With Petry’s signing, the Habs now have $24.35 million tied to four defensemen for next season.