The addition of Jeff Petry shuffles the Detroit Red Wings’ backend

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In somewhat of a surprising fashion, the Detroit Red Wings have continued their busy off-season by bolstering their backend.

General manager Steve Yzerman recently pulled off what on the surface looks to be another very team-friendly deal by bringing home Michigan native Jeff Petry. Petry, of course, is the son of Detroit Tigers World Series Champion starting pitcher Dan Petry.

The Red Wings secured Petry from their division rival Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defenseman Gustav Lindstrom and a fourth-round draft selection. As a part of the deal, the Canadiens will eat a percentage of Petry’s current deal, leaving the Detroit Red Wings on the hook for just $2.34 million per season of his remaining $6.25 million cap hit over the next two seasons. The Pittsburgh Penguins will also pay part of Petry’s salary, as they retained over $1.5 million per season when they traded the veteran defenseman to Montreal earlier this month as a part of the Erik Karlsson deal.

Petry, 35, not only adds another veteran to Detroit’s backend, he helps bolster a Red Wings roster that appears poised to make a run at the postseason in 2023-24. Although Yzerman will refuse to say, this transaction also suggests the organization is content with leaving their young defensemen, such as Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson, in Grand Rapids to marinate for another entire season (barring injuries).

Jeff Petry solidifies the Detroit Red Wings’ backend.

Montreal added future assets by initially taking on Petry and is not quite as advanced with their rebuild as Detroit. The Habs were looking to move Petry moments after his return to the organization. Petry, who has a modified no-trade clause built into his current deal (15-team no-trade list), recently mentioned that Detroit was his first choice. Petry also announced that he would wear No. 46 for the Red Wings to pay homage to his father, who wore the same number for the Tigers.

“Detroit was the No. 1 spot on my list,” Petry said. “I want to play here…wanted to my whole life. I like what I see when I look at that roster and the steps this team has made over the last couple of years. It’s an exciting moment.”

“It was always something that he was always at practice, always at games watching but he didn’t know much about it,” Jeff Petry said. “Along the way it’s been nice to talk to him about what it is to be a professional, what it takes to get to that level.”

“I was always watching Red Wings games,” Petry said. “My childhood room was Red Wings everything. Hockey was always something I enjoyed more than baseball. It took me awhile to finally tell my dad that and get away from that. Hockey always meant a little bit more to me. He was very supportive of both sports growing up. When I ultimately made the decision to stop playing baseball, he was thrilled that I picked hockey and was gonna continue down that road.”

Petry is coming off a solid campaign with the Penguins, where he tallied five goals and 31 points while playing over 22 minutes per night for a total of 61 games. My initial reaction was that Petry would bolster Detroit’s depth on the backend as perhaps a third-pairing defender rotating with the likes of Olli Maatta, and Justin Holl, each taking their turn in the press box. Upon further reflection, I don’t expect Petry to be a regular in Detroit’s press box as a healthy scratch but more of someone solidifying the Detroit Red Wings’ second pairing.

The way I see it is as follows.

Jake Walman and Moritz Seider built up an incredible repertoire as Detroit’s top pairing last season; I don’t see that changing, at least to begin the new year. Next in line, whether you like it or not, is alternate captain Ben Chiarot, who is coming off a terrible first year in Detroit. Yzerman paid him to be a second-pairing defender, and he knows Petry very well as the two played a ton during Montreal’s Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals a couple of years ago, albeit not paired together on a regular basis. Chiarot had been primarily paired with Shea Weber, while Petry often found himself with Joel Edmundson. Having played on the same team in the past, I assume there will be some chemistry, and I figure that’s what head coach Derek Lalonde will experiment with early on.

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That leaves the third pairing of some combination of Olli Maatta, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Justin Holl. This is the trio I expect will find themselves rotating from game to game. However, my gut suggests that it will be more Holl and Maatta seeing the more frequent time in the press box as Gostisbehere brings a ton of upside, especially on the offensive side of things. Gostisbehere is also comfortable playing both sides of the ice, which is a benefit. Also, the addition gives Lalonde lineup flexibility; he may elect to roll with nine forwards and seven defenders occasionally, allowing Dylan Larkin, Andrew Copp, and J.T. Compher more ice time playing down the middle between four sets of wingers.

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