Montreal Canadiens’ Marc Bergevin getting excellent bang-for-buck

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 3:07 am by Jonathan Willis


If a well-dressed man with a French accent shows up at your
garage sale, don’t bother haggling with him, just quickly send him on his way.
It might not be Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, but there is no sense taking chances. And judging
from his work at the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline he spends a lot of time hunting
bargains and he usually gets what he wants for less than he should.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Well in advance of the
deadline Bergevin showed he was awfully good at getting what he wanted from
other general managers. Trades for Sergei Gonchar and Travis Moen showed a G.M.
with an instinctive feel for managing the salary cap and making moves at the
margins with long-term benefits.

That same adroit touch was at work on Monday:

The primary deal here is clearly the acquisition of Petry, a
puck-moving defenceman who had been playing a little less than 21 minutes per
game for the Edmonton Oilers prior to the trade. At a deadline where defencemen
such as Andrej Sekera, Braydon Coburn and even Kimmo Timonen were commanding
astronomical prices, a second round selection plus a conditional pick is an
extremely reasonable price to pay for a defenceman who can play.

There should be no doubt that Petry can play; we only need
to look at how his partners have fared with and without him to know that:  

  • Ladislav Smid was a shutdown pairing workhorse
    for the Oilers; he’s since devolved into a mediocre third-pairing option after
    being separated
  • Martin Marincin took Smid’s place and was
    effective on Edmonton’s shutdown pairing after the veteran was traded; paired
    with other defencemen in camp he was so lightly regarded as to be demoted to
    the AHL out of training camp this year
  • After struggling mightily with Justin Schultz,
    veteran Andrew Ference has looked reinvigorated despite tougher minutes on a
    pairing with Petry

Petry is a controversial defenceman, in large part because
he’s had the misfortune to spend his entire NHL career on the post-2010 Oilers,
easily the worst team in the league over that span. But his partner’s work with
and without him is telling—he’s either insanely lucky or he makes his teammates
better. Nearly 300 games into his NHL career, it’s getting increasingly
difficult to make the luck argument.

Steve Smith, who coached Petry in Edmonton and now coaches
in Carolina, made an impassioned defence of the player to 630 CHED’s BobStauffer (transcript via the Edmonton Journal) after leaving the Oilers:

“You look at Jeff and the things that he has done with a
program that is on the build, I think he’s done pretty darn well. He’s had to
play against all the top centremen in the league for two or three years now.
He’s had to play against all the top power plays in the league for two or three
years now. He’s really an underrated penalty killer, he’s really a wonderful
skater, he’s a good person, he’s a good teammate, and he attempts to do all the
things that are asked of him on a daily basis. What else can you ask of a

Bergevin’s second add, Brian Flynn, isn’t in Petry’s class as a player, but he’s an
interesting pick up in his own right. He certainly didn’t cost very much, 

 A versatile right-shooting forward who can line up at centre or the
wing, Flynn was heavily leaned on in a penalty-killing role for Buffalo and
performed (relatively) well in a tough zonestarts role for the Sabres. He gives
coach Michel Therrien an additional depth option who plays a responsible and
reliable game.

Neither of these deals are the kinds of trades that win
Stanley Cups all by themselves. But they are low-cost plays that make a pretty
good Montreal team even better. In terms of bang-for-buck, few managers are
having as good a day as Bergevin.