With the news that Jeff Petry and the Oilers have agreed to terms on a new contract, I guess we can put all of the rumours of Petry's imminent departure in exchange for a centre to rest. But those rumours will be back very soon because the deal is for just a single year, with a value of $3.075M, meaning he'll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. That's the part of this deal that I find more than a little puzzling.
It's a great deal in terms of dollars. Pennies over $3M for a top pairing defenceman is a steal of a deal, but potentially losing him for nothing, or being forced into a trade at the deadline (I'd consider this to be more likely), is a long way removed from ideal. Given those options I wonder if the Oilers wouldn't have been better off trading Petry right now. He's almost certainly not going to return a first round pick at the trade deadline, so would the team not have been better off with a body right now and for the years ahead as opposed to another bullet next June.
Maybe Petry only wanted to sign for a year, or he wanted a big bump on the yearly value to sign long term, we don't know, but from where I sit there is a lot of risk in this contract. Petry isn't universally popular with fans in Edmonton but the reality is he is very, very good, and as it stands now he's not replaceable in the Oilers roster. Not today, and I have trouble seeing a replacement next season either. With a deal like this the Oilers won't be able to turn this asset into much down the road, and the last time I checked the Oilers still have some holes that needs to be filled. It's just a strange move.
Looking ahead I have to think that the Oilers truly believe that Justin Schultz (his next contract scares me to death), Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom, and Darnell Nurse will be their top for in the next couple of seasons. That's the only way I can make sense of this; they simply don't see a spot for Petry to justify committing to him long term. I'm not sure I agree with their assessment but I sure hope they're right because this is a big gamble.