Recently the subject of trade rumors, restricted free agent Jeff Petry has re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers. The club announced it is bringing back the young defenseman on a one-year contract, worth $3.075 million according to Oilers radio analyst Bob Stauffer.
Petry, who has been a full-time NHLer for the last three seasons with the Oilers, has been primarily drawing top-four minutes for about as long as he's been with the team. He played in 80 games last season and posted 17 points. He earns a solid raise from the $1.75 million he averaged over the last two years of his last contract.
Though his total production has dropped off a bit from the 25-point campaign he had in 2011-12, he did score a career-high seven goals last season. That said, it's his performance defensively that has shown a fair amount of improvement from year to year.
According to ExtraSkater.com, Petry put up a positive relative Corsi of 3.7 percent last season, suggesting the Oilers were better at controlling the puck when he was on the ice. That number also comes with Petry starting most of his shifts in the defensive zone.
This is essentially a bridge deal to give Petry a chance to prove that he deserves to be paid like a quality top-four defenseman with the dangling carrot of unrestricted free agency being an option for him by next summer.
With the more productive Justin Schultz also a restricted free agent defenseman in need of a new deal this summer from the Oilers, this one-year pact with Petry gives Edmonton a little more flexibility with how they manage Schultz.
It is a bit risky, though. If Petry continues on his upward development trend, the Oilers could watch him go to unrestricted free agency next year and make more money with another team. Not buying any of his UFA years is where there's reason to be concerned with what is otherwise a sensible contract as far as the money goes.
The deal sets up rather nicely for Petry, with a substantial and deserved raise, while leaving the door open to testing unrestricted free agency as early as next season. Playing in a contract year very well could lead to big things for both the player and team next season.