12 PETRYDid Jeff Petry give the Canadiens a discount? Considering this year’s market for unrestricted free agent defensemen the answer to the question is probably “yes”.

Had he waited until July first, Petry would have been near the top of the list of available free agent defencemen, a list that at this point includes Washington’s Mike Green, Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin, Pittsburgh’s Paul Martin, Chicago’s Johnny Oduya and Nashville’s Cody Franson and not a hell of a lot more. In that kind of competition it’s possible, even with the near-stagnant salary cap Petry could have commanded something in the neighbourhood of 6.5 million.

He signed for 33-million over six years, which is 5.5 million a season.

As we posted last week, there was not question that Marc Bergevin wanted to re-sign Petry if he could.

12 petryDuring his post season news conference Bergevin said, “(Petry) played some big minutes. I know his strengths and I think he fits perfect for our team.”

During his conference call following the signing announcement Petry said “(Free agency) 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 to (the Canadiens).”

We often talk about the greed of today’s athlete, and certainly a 33-million dollar nest egg is not to be sneezed at, but for Petry more than money entered this picture. “From the day I got (to Montreal), up to the playoff run; the environment at the Bell Centre, the players in the locker room, the organiaation just being first class, that all into it.”

The early June signing allows Bergevin time work on straightening out his salary cap as the NHL heads for the June 26th entry draft and then July first and free agency. At the moment the Canadiens have 18 of their 23 man roster signed at 64.275 million dollars.

If the salary cap in fact settles at 71-million, the Canadiens have 6.75 million in available space and five players yet to sign. Top of the list are restricted free agents Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu. Bergevin has also indicated an interest in re-signing UFA forward Torrey Mitchell. However all of this shakes out, it’s apparent that Bergevin will be hard up against or over the cap. That probably means a trade of some sort. He has until the opening of next season to deal with that.

Right now Bergevin and the Canadiens can enjoy the fact that they have added another brick to the reconstruction of the franchise.