NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Jeff Petry Contract, Joe Thornton, More

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIAugust 4, 2020

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (26) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Since getting traded from the Edmonton Oilers in March 2015, Jeff Petry has been a solid contributor for the Montreal Canadiens. He's played in 385 games for Montreal in six seasons, tallying 52 goals and 127 assists.

But the defenseman is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-21 season. He signed a six-year $33 million deal with the Canadiens the summer after he was traded from the Oilers, and that contract will soon be coming to an end.

Currently, Montreal is playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in a best-of-five qualifying-round series in Toronto. And it appears the team may be waiting until later down the line to potentially work out a new deal with Petry, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

"I did a little digging Sunday to see if anyone involved in that situation used the time off during the pause to talk contract but was told by a source that there have not been any negotiations yet between Newport Sports, who represent Petry, and the Habs," LeBrun wrote. "The plan is to wait until the offseason to examine the situation."

With another season left on the 32-year-old's deal, the Canadiens still have time, but it's clear why they would have interest in bringing him back. In 71 regular-season games this season, he had 11 goals and 29 assists, and he has one goal and one assist through Montreal's first two games of its qualifying-round series against Pittsburgh, which is tied 1-1.

Petry's 10-year NHL career has been split fairly evenly between Edmonton and Montreal, but he could be sticking with the Canadiens beyond the end of his current contract as he enters the next phase of his career.


What's next in Thornton's future?

Paul Beaty/Associated Press

Joe Thornton is 41 years old and has played 22 NHL seasons with the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks. He's set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason (after spending the past 15 seasons in San Jose), and it appears his hockey career may not quite be over.

Kevin Kurz of The Athletic confirmed a report from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman that the veteran could be playing some games in Switzerland this fall as the Sharks are one of the seven teams that weren't included in the NHL's expanded playoffs.

"My understanding is that's true," Kurz tweeted. "Joe [is] in Switzerland now with family and plans to start skating again soon. No concrete plans yet, [though]."

Even though Thornton is likely nearing the end of his NHL career, he's proved he can still be a solid contributor. This season, he had seven goals and 24 assists in 70 games for the Sharks. Although that was his lowest points total since his rookie season in Boston in 1997-98, it's solid production from a player of his age.

Thornton has never won a Stanley Cup during his long NHL career, so there's clear motivation for why he would want to return in 2020-21. Will he come back to San Jose? That's unclear, but with the Sharks being one of the teams left out of this year's playoffs, it's possible he'll sign with a team that has a better chance of being a contender in the near future.


Toronto had interest in Thompson for staff

In mid-July, TSN's Darren Dreger reported that Rocky Thompson was joining the Sharks to be an assistant coach under Bob Boughner in San Jose after three seasons as Chicago Wolves head coach in the AHL.

The 42-year-old is a former NHL player who had spent some time as an assistant coach with the Oilers. And although he hadn't been on an NHL staff the past several seasons, the Sharks weren't the only team that had interest in hiring him prior to the 2020-21 season.

According to LeBrun, the Toronto Maple Leafs "also had conversations with Thompson," before he decided to join the Sharks last month.

"My sense is that the Leafs viewed Thompson as an excellent candidate to join Sheldon Keefe's staff for next season but ultimately I'm told the front office just wasn't ready to move on anyone before the playoffs," LeBrun wrote.

Toronto is playing a best-of-five qualifying-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Meanwhile, San Jose is one of the seven teams that aren't part of NHL's expanded playoffs, so it has already shifted its focus to the offseason and the 2020-21 campaign.