Entering last season, the Montreal Canadiens were expected to be a playoff-bound club looking to contend for the Stanley Cup. Instead, they wound up at the bottom of the standings and were essentially a tire fire for fantasy value. However, one of the few bright spots on the team from last season was Jeff Petry, who showed plenty of offensive fantasy potential with a career season.
Drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the 2006 draft, Petry was not known for his offensive talent in the early stages of his career. In the minors he didn't stand out and through his first 295 NHL games he had only scored 74 points (.251 pts/gp). Things got slightly better when he was shipped to Montreal, but it still didn't look like Petry would ever turn into a top offensive defensemen. In his first two full seasons in Montreal Petry averaged between 25-30 points a season but by then Petry was already approaching 30 years old. Things weren't looking great for Petry to ever become a valuable fantrasy contributor.
At 30 years old though Petry finally got his chance to shine when Shea Weber went out with a foot injury. Ending the season with 42 points as one of Montreal's highest scorers, Petry provided some of the most underrated fantasy value over the course of the year. According to the Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, Petry was ranked as the 24th most valuable skater (out of an average 12-team Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power play points, and hits).
Rank Name FHG Value GP G A SOG PPP HITS
23 Dustin Byfuglien 52 68 8 37 191 22 147
24 Jeff Petry 52 80 12 30 172 23 166
25 Roman Josi 52 74 14 37 250 20 79
He didn't score the amount of points that other defenders like Dustin Byfuglien and Roman Josi did, but Petry still finished with a very respectable 42 points (23rd most by any defender). He killed it with the man advantage, collecting 23 power-play points (tied for the 10th most by an NHL defenseman). His peripherals were also excellent, making him the top 25 fantasy player he was in leagues that count shots, power play points, and hits. His 178 shots weren't as amazing (31st most out of all defensemen), but his 166 hits are fantastic. Everyone always talks about how valuable Byfuglien and Rasmus Ristolainen are because of their physicality, yet Petry goes relatively undetected. Petry finished with the 39th-most hits in the NHL, and out of the top 50 players ranked by Fantasy Hockey Geek, he finished with the third most hits out of anybody.
But can we expect Petry to repeat the season he had? Are we sure it's not just a fluke? Before last year, Petry's career high was 28 points, set in the season prior with the Canadiens. In Montreal, Petry has been a much better offensive contributor than when he was in Edmonton. In the 2016-17 season, Petry actually had more even-strength points than he did last season, registering 21 even-strength points compared to 19 last season. But the important difference between last season and all his other years was that Petry was finally put in a place to offensively succeed. With Weber out of commission for most of the year, Petry was thrust into the role of a number one defensemen and didn't disappoint. With Weber in the lineup, Petry only produced seven points through 27 games (.259 pts/gp). However, without Weber in the lineup Petry scored an impressive 35 points in only 55 games (.636 pts/gp). Petry also got to eat up more power-play time and convert that into an extra 10-15 points.
And now that Weber's out until December, we can expect Petry to pick off from right where he finished last season. Things will get a little murky when (if?) Weber returns this season but it's a solid bet to expect similar production from Petry for at least the first three months of the season. And while it's still early, it looks like people may be underestimating Petry and his value. For instance, in NHL.com's ranking of the top 250 fantasy players, Petry is ranked at 235th overall, using the same categories we used except for the addition of plus/minus. Petry will no doubt contribute more than a player slotted around 235th overall and should fall around being a top 50 fantasy players in a lot of leagues. Petry should once again provide sneaky good value, so grab him at a good spot while you still have the chance.
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