MONTREAL -- Defenseman Jeff Petry signed with the Montreal Canadiens before he ever got a chance to test free agency, and his teammates are happy he will prove to be more than a trade-deadline rental.
Petry agreed to terms with Montreal on a six-year, $33 million contract Tuesday, less than a month before he was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.
The 27-year-old Michigan native had three goals and seven points in 19 games with the Canadiens after he was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 2.
Defense - MTL
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 22
SOG: 126 | +/-: -28
"Pretty much all signs pointed towards testing the market, and then once the trade happened and I joined Montreal, the mindset started shifting," Petry said via conference call from his home in West Bloomfield, Mich. "And then as time went on and I got to play in the environment and see how I was valued within the organization, I think that kept pushing things more towards the side of not testing the open market."
Petry had two goals and three points in 12 games in his first Stanley Cup Playoffs. The five-year NHL veteran said general manager Marc Bergevin's interest in keeping him in Montreal was instrumental in getting a deal done.
"For me it was in my exit meeting, they had said that they were very happy with the way I was playing and that they were going to reach out to my agent about getting a contract going," Petry said. "And that showed a lot to me that they were willing to initiate so early, and I think just from everything that happened throughout the year, from coming in in the trade and then playing in the playoffs, and just how I felt with the coaching staff, how I felt I fit in with the team and the guys in the locker room, I think that played a big role into it."
The Canadiens were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Second Round. Afterward, goalie Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban were among the teammates who told Petry they hoped he would stay.
"Everyone was packing up and saying goodbyes for the summer and I had a couple of guys that came up to me and wished me good luck with everything that would happen over the summer, but expressed that they would really like to have me back," Petry said. "And that meant a lot, hearing from guys like Subban and guys like Price, guys that play a key role on this team, hearing that from them weighed in a lot on the decision."
Montreal's potential to compete for the Stanley Cup also was a factor.
"I have a feeling that it's not far off, and that played into the decision as well," Petry said.
Petry, who was Edmonton's second round pick (No. 45) in the 2006 NHL Draft, has 20 goals and 81 points in 314 regular-season games. He said his father, Dan, a right-handed pitcher for the 1984 World Series champion Detroit Tigers, was happy Jeff would remain with the Canadiens.
"He loved the environment and he loved coming up to Montreal to see playoff games, and I know he's really excited to come up to more games in the future," Petry said.
Dan said his son was looking forward to it too.
"I just know that he was blown away when he got there," Dan told TSN 690 Radio on Tuesday. "That's all he kept saying when he talked to us and we made our little visits on just everything about the organization. That's not a slam against Edmonton at all or anything like that. I think it was just the total experience, and of course being in the playoffs. There's some very, very big names on that team, and I think they were just Jeff's kind of people and he felt very, very comfortable there."