#7 Prospect Winter 2008: Jeff Petry
















Current Rank: #7
Summer 2008 Rank: #6

Jeff Petry is one of three defenders who grew up in the NCAA that we often compare to each other. I’ve always slotted them in this order: Taylor Chorney, Jeff Petry, Cody Wild. This winter, that changes.

This season both Chorney and Petry are struggling and Wild is playing well but finds himself listed as a “healthy scratch” far too often to move up the prospect depth chart. Let’s look closer at Petry.

Petry drew all kinds of attention one year ago and was named to the NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team, the CCHA All-Rookie team and won Michigan State’s Top Rookie and Outstanding Defenseman awards.

This season more was expected, on the PP, EVs and PK. Regarded as a “complete player”, scouts say he handles the puck well, has great skating ability, can get physical and is improving defensively. I wasn’t convinced of Petry coming off his season one year ago, for the following reasons:

  • Reports of some gaps defensively
  • Reports of inconsistent play. Coach Rick Comley: “I thought that on some nights he was our best player and other nights, he played more like a freshman.”
  • He started his college career much later than most top quality prospects.
  • Reports that are not consistent re: his foot speed.
  • Offensive numbers are good but unspectacular.

One year ago, at age 20 (remember he’s a freshman at age 20) he goes 42gp, 3-21-24 which ranks him 9th on his team in scoring (2nd among defenders). He is +2 on a team that is +12 overall and there are no less than 5 defenders with a better plus minus number. His point total (24) meant he was in on 17.8% of the Spartans 135 goals.

This season, at 21, the offensive numbers show improvement (as a percentage of team offense) which is the main reason he is ranked at #7. Petry is still back of the pack in plus minus. He is currently 18gp, 1-6-7 which ranks him 5th (tie) on his team (leads the defensemen), he’s -11 (on a team that is -23 overall). There are 3 defenders with signficantly better plus minus numbers, but two of them are freshman so it’s unlikely they’re facing the same level of competition. Petry’s point total (7) means he has been in on 24% of the Spartans’ 29 goals. That number (24%) is quite high and central to his value at this time. He’s a very good college offensive defenseman, not far from Tom Poti territory if he can sustain it.

With the offensive ability as a backdrop, I had earlier ranked Petry 4th overall for winter 2008. A big part of the equation had to do with how he was progressing defensively but I misread the plus minus numbers. In order to avoid confusion (mine) again, here is the plus minus number for each Spartan defender along with their status (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior) which is an aid when attempting to estimate we have for toughness of minutes:

  1. Brock Shelgren (fresh) +1
  2. Ryan Turek (junior) -3
  3. Matt Crandell (freshman) -4
  4. Brandon Gentile (senior) -7
  5. Justin Johnston (junior) -8
  6. Jeff Petry (soph) -11
  7. Tim Buttery (fresh) -13

We know from reports that Petry is facing tough opposition. He played with freshman Matt Crandell this weekend which may speak to the coach attempting to work a promising young player in with a trusted veteran. The fact remains Petry isn’t getting the desired results in a season when the coach was relying on him. I don’t know how you can put that in a positive light and have no interest in trying.

Back to the offense: 24% (of overall offense) is a pretty high number for a sophomore defender, even considering his age. Here are the three college kids as sophomore’s for comparison:

  • Petry 24.1%
  • Chorney 20.2%
  • Wild 18.4%

Looking at the game summaries and boxscores (Michigan State has a really good site) it seems to me that Petry is playing monster minutes and that may also be impacting his effectiveness. Also helping the downward spiral is goalie Jeff Lerg, whose SP is down (.912 this season, .898 in conference) from his career number (.922 when the season began).

This is obviously going to be a trying season for him (Michigan State is being outscored 54-29 in 18 games) and it’s going to be even more difficult to rank him (as some have done) as the best prospect in the Oilers system. Guy Flaming over at Hockey’s Future has always been very high on him, which I suspect comes from talking to the scouts. Quoting Guy: “Petry isn’t really lacking in any one area; he can skate, pass (21 assists last year), shoot (95 mph shot un the USHL All-Star game), makes safe decisions under pressure, can play physical and he’s still maturing. Where once he was a gangly specimen, all arms and legs, he is now physically thicker and stronger, although he’s still not tipping the scales at the 200 lb mark despite what the MSU Spartans suggest on their team site. He is not an elite defensive prospect, but Petry is still a player who is projected to be a top-pairing contributor at the NHL level.”

Petry is the first player on this winter’s top 20 whose current in-season performance is as much about negatives as positives. It’s fair then to suggest that there is a distinct gap between top 6 and the players who follow them. The math tells us Petry as a defensive player is not tracking on a level commensurate with what we’d associate with a top rated player in the system, but his offense implies he is ahead of the other college (Chorney and Wild now pro) kids we have been comparing him to for a couple of years.

I think it’s safe to say that “draft steal” might be a bit of an overstatement at this time.

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40 Responses to "#7 Prospect Winter 2008: Jeff Petry"

  1. doritogrande says:

    True that he’s not looking the greatest this year, but having to be a leader to 4 freshman defensemen is only going to work in our favour down the road.

    He’s got the size we’ve always wanted in a player, and a hell of a shot. He’s also an ornery fuck and doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff like a similar body-typed Tom Gilbert.

    Petry seems to be tracking along the development curve of a Sheldon Souray type. Even if he can’t duplicate the offense of the Elk Point native, I like the rest of Souray’s game enough.

  2. Lowetide says:

    I wish one of those Oilers scouts (Chris McCarthy, whomever) would just tell us about him without the puck. The organization says he’s flawless and all I ever read about him from independent sources is that he’s a bit of a risk taker and can be discombobulated.

    This season, the numbers say that’s exactly the case.

    As an aside, there are 3 fresheman on the blue but of course that’s plenty.

  3. jon k says:

    While I’m pretty transparent in my liking Petry, I would still say that a Brad Stuart (warts and all) type career can reasonably be expected. And by expected I mean as much as with any prospect who can’t be described as exceptional (Cogliano, Hemsky at 19, Gagner at 18).

    Rangy, capable of logging big minutes, some offensive skill but not enough for him to be considered a driver from the backend, physical, and good but not great defensively due to lapses in judgement.

  4. Scott says:

    I think that this is a very fair assessment of Petry LT. I guess it’s a positive for his potential future career that he’s been less disappointing than Chorney. Chorney must be having a real tough year to this point.

    Thanks again for all the work on these!

  5. Traktor says:

    If a talented player that hated to lose played on a horrible team what would happen?

    He would probably try and do it all himself. That seems to be the case with Petry. Kinda hard to fault him for going for the end zone every throw when the defense can’t stop the run OR pass.

  6. Schitzo says:

    If a talented player that hated to lose played on a horrible team what would happen?

    He’s get drafted instead of Parise?

  7. Lowetide says:

    Scott: Chorney’s having a terrible time of it. To give you an example, I felt we could reasonably expect a season similar to the one Brian Lee (also a UND defender) put in at the AHL level last season when he came out of college. Here are their numbers are the first 2 months:

    Lee 07-08 23gp, 1-10-11 +3
    Chorney 08-09 23gp, 0-5-5 -10

    From what I can tell they have stopped using him on the top 4 (paired with Bina) but Chorney is still a presence on the PK.

    If he weren’t a second round pick I’d bet a trip to the ECHL would be likely. However, if you read Truitt and the Oilers brass comments he’s coming along nicely.

    I will say that Chorney looked good in camp. It’s been a tough go for the kid in the AHL, though.

  8. Asiaoil says:

    Smid is only about 13 months older than Petry – and at the same age that Petry is now – Smid had already played a full season in the AHL plus about 100 NHL games.

    You know where I’m going with this with regard to Petry’s progress and upside – but people can draw their own conclusions :)

  9. Traktor says:

    “He’s get drafted instead of Parise?”

    Nicely played.

  10. Asiaoil says:

    LT – Chorney isn’t big enough, fast enough or have the offensive skills to be an impact NHL dman IMHO. A lot of his game simply doesn’t translate well from the NCAA to the pros. I’m not surprised at all that he’s struggling – and I expect it to continue until he figures out how to adapt his game to the pros….if he can.

  11. Lowetide says:

    Asia: He looked good in TC amd speed imo is probably his #1 asset. He can skate.

  12. Traktor says:

    Lowetide:

    Cody Wild is +6

    Matt Roy is -7

    How do you gauge Chorney’s +- under these circumstances

    We know that Wild isn’t a better player than Roy, right?

    I was expecting 40+ points from Chorney this year so he’s definitively on the wrong side of the sand by my view.

  13. Bank Shot says:

    I’m not sure a guy can throw Petry under the bus based on his poor +/-numbers this season. The team is pretty bad and there is no scoring to speak of. They only have 4 wins out of 18.

    Players playing big minutes on terrible teams usually put up lousy +/- numbers and Horcoff and Souray both did so in 06-07.

    Petry is tied for 4th on his team in shots on goal, and based on the few stats availible looks like one of the only bright spots.

  14. Asiaoil says:

    Yes it’s his #1 asset – but it’s just adequate IMHO. Never a good thing when the best part of your game is simply OK – and it certainly doesn’t make up for his lack of size, strength or offense. I remember him when he came up to EDM for prospects camp after his sophomore year – the kid was a twig – he’s bigger now – but I still don’t think his game translates to the pros. He’s not out-smarting or out-muscling anyone in the AHL, skating is simply adequate, no real offensive skills to speak of (0-5-5). Just not that much to get excited about.

    SPR played today and Dubnyk got lit up for 4 goals in the 2nd and pulled – Chorney with another -1 day.

  15. Lowetide says:

    Traktor: Roy is coming off another injury so I suspect that’s part of the problem. Wild’s numbers are good and in fact if he were a regular would have gotten consideration for the top 10. But Truitt keeps HS’ing him and he must have his reasons for it.

    Bank Shot: Petry was supposed to help in all areas. That was the idea, his coach said it and certainly all the reviews suggested it. I mean, Petry’s reputation was just short of Hobey Baker territory going into the season. I’ve ranked him 7th because he clearly has some offense but by any measure this has been an uneven season even when we consider the other things (youthful team, goalie SP, etc).

    Asia: I don’t know. Chorney is certainly not having a good start but it’s 20 games and he did have success in the NCAA and that’s not a crappy league or anything.

  16. Asiaoil says:

    Maybe it’s just me – but I find it pretty hard to get excited about our prospect pool since the big graduation last year. Aside from Eberly and Plante who hold some promise – the rest are either bottom six grinders in training, 3rd pair upside dmen, or flawed offensive forwards like Schremp and Potulney.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Asia: I think there’s a gap after 6. Reddox took a beating in the thread below but imo when a young player can reinvent himself like that then all bets are off. We don’t know where he’s going to end up.

    The rest of the list features players with flaws or kids like Chorney who are taking on water. I think there’s two or three guys 7-20 who’ll have careers but identifying them is impossible.

  18. jon k says:

    While obviously Chorney is struggling I think it’s important to keep in mind that it’s 20 games into his pro career. An adjustment period is to be expected. Especially for players with certain shortcomings (size, strength). It’s going to take a season in the A before anyone can get a good gauge on where he’ll fall as a pro.

    I think he’s going to be an NHLer, just not necessarily one who is going to help win games in a consistent manner.

    Liles is a comparable who comes to mind.

  19. Lowetide says:

    jon k: I don’t think we know any of that stuff. Chorney could end up having a terrific career, but these 23 games in the AHL are a huge red flag.

    Now, there could be reasons for his struggles (remember, he did have surgery at the end of last season although he looked fine in TC) and Chorney could turn this thing around and have a fine rookie season.

    But right now he’s looking overwhelmed and that’s all we have to go on. Strong NCAA career and then a step into the elevator shaft. The last photo in the sequence is a concern.

  20. jon k says:

    Fair enough. I’m obviously no fan of Chorney, and as predicting player development goes I think the A is the best barometer for fans in regards to future performance.

  21. godot10 says:

    Re: Chorney

    Brian Rafalski took till age 27 to make the NHL, a full 4 years in college, and 4 more in Europe. Are not people being a bit harsh on an undersized 21-year old defenseman with good skills and leadership ability? It took Duncan Keith two years in the AHL, so it should take Chorney at least that long.

    Re: Petry

    On a Gilbert-like trajectory, Petry wouldn’t see the NHL till after 2 more years of college, and on year in the AHL. Again, it is a bit early to throw him on the trash heap.

    People shouldn’t have Doughty-like expectations for speed of development. Both Petry and Chorney may be 4 years away, which would be still be reasonable development pace.

  22. Asiaoil says:

    LT – I’d say the drop-off comes a bit soon – say after Nash, Eberly, Plante and Peckham – but that’s not much of a difference.

    From your list to this point…. Schremp was a very flawed player turning pro – still is – and Reddox is a poor man’s Smyth who is a poor man’s version of an elite winger. Not sure what that means but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include a significant NHL career. The NCAA dmen all have issues but Petry could go Gilbert I suppose. Like I said he is now at the point where we stole Gilbert from COL and we all went Tom who? He’s been a late bloomer but does have the tools – might be a case of him understanding what he needs to do to be a pro – and that doesn’t include bad Bobby Orr impressions on a regular basis. As for the rest – you’re right – a few of them will get in 100 NHL games plus and I have no idea which ones.

  23. Asiaoil says:

    Godot10 – Rafalski and Gilbert are both very exceptional cases that don’t happen very often. It’s much more likely that Chorney and Petry both bust. No guaranteeing that result – they could both be all-stars – but it’s way way more likely that they will be footnotes.

  24. Dennis says:

    LT: I know you mentioned him earlier and he should Always be mentioned in terms of just what injuries can do to a career and of course it’s always a good comp to mention him when talking about young D.

    I’m talking of course about Doug Lynch.

    It’s hard to explain just how poised he looked to me during the 6-8 games I saw him that season live plus the games on TV; The Score did some Roadrunners games that well and I caught a lot of them on the tube.

    Maybe you can go take a dig at just what the average numbers were for A dmen that year and where Lynch’s rookie season ranked that year and how it ranks for first year Oiler pros.

    The kid wasn’t that great of a skater but he was a plus passer with excellent vision and uncanny knack of knowing how to get his shot on goal. I’m not saying he was HOF but it takes so long for most D to develop and I bet a lot of the younger guys here don’t know about Lynch or how promising he looked after his rookie season.

  25. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: He was way better than the kids in the AHL currently, at least in his rookie season. He was 20 years old, straight out of junior and these were his numbers:

    74gp, 11-25-36 +10

    Mikko Luomo was +8, Dan Smith was +2, Bobby Allen -2, Jeff Woywikta was -5 and the kid was +10. Exceptional.

    He was 4th in team scoring (Peckham is 5th but remember Lynch was a rookie) and outclassed everyone on that blueline in 03-04.
    In the same league, same season, Duncan Keith was also 20. He played on a less impressive offensive team and went 75gp, 7-18-25 -8. Anton Babchuk was his teammate and was +9 with the same offense (8-14-22). Lasse Kukkonen was also on that team.

    Those were probably (at a quick glance) the most impressive regulars in the AHL who were rookies that season on defense.

  26. marriedtotheoil says:

    LT, Traktor: Wild looked awful when I saw him in person vs. Lowell 11/23–couldn’t stay out of the penalty box for stupid stuff, total mess on the ice, but the numbers would indicate a statistical abberation, I *hope*.

    On a side note, Tim Buttery (fresh) -13 makes me think his true calling might be as a crescent roll.

  27. Lowetide says:

    married to the oil: classic.

  28. Ribs says:

    Gratton waivers….Bleh. Just say no.

  29. knighttown says:

    @Ribs

    I took a look at Gratton since he has the reputation of being a 4th line facoff guy and penalty killer who would come cheap.

    FO %-62% (54.5% last year)

    2007-08
    PK GA/60- 8.92 (3rd worst on that awful TB team last year)and -8.9 this year.

    So, in a narrow view he might be able to help this team win a few faceoffs but a primo penalty killer he’s not.

    I’d pass…
    PK GF/60- zero
    PK Rating vs. his teammates (-5.21)

  30. Traktor says:

    Also, behindthenet favorite, Radim Vrbata, who many suggested would be a good signing because of his underlying numbers was just put on waivers. 3 goals and 3 assists for 3 million a year.

  31. DeBakey says:

    many suggested would be a good signing because of his underlying numbers

    Is 27 goals an underlying number?

  32. Jonathan says:

    I’m not sure who you’re poking at Traktor but I think most of us would have passed on Vrbata. That isn’t an underlying numbers thing either – it’s just common sense. Plus, my spreadsheet told me no :)

    As for Gratton, I’d claim him. Guy isn’t going to move mountains, but he can be useful to this hockey team. More useful than, say, Zach Stortini or Liam Reddox.

  33. quain says:

    Ignoring the strawman, and stating that I’m not one of the mystical people pimping Vrbata before his signing:

    Radim Vrbata isn’t a superstar. He’s random, top six filler, basically. If there was ever a guy who was meant to sign a discount contract to play on Crosby’s wing, it was Radim Vrbata.

    Given his pedigree, you don’t sign the guy to a three year, high dollar contract and then give him poor ice time, jerk him around in public, and then act surprised when he isn’t a worldbeater.

    And, as for behindthenet favourite, I checked his 07/08 numbers: they screamed average. The current hot topic stat, Corsi, for him was middle of the road. Labeling him a behindthenet favourite is like labeling the commentary on this blog a Vic Ferrari favourite.

    In summary: not a bad player, but he doesn’t drive the bus, and Tampa Bay once again proved they have no clue what they’re doing.

  34. Traktor says:

    Jonathan: I was just kidding around but if I was poking then Rivers and Coachpb were all over Vrbata.

    Gratton would be decent but I’m not sure he where he plays. If he replaces Stortini then he needs to fight. Reddox is a MacT guy so I’m not sure he would sit him for Gratton.

  35. Traktor says:

    I didn’t realize that he’s 60+ on the dot. Someone will claim him for sure.

  36. Ribs says:

    Gratton is cretinous in the Jason Chimera mold. Let the Flames have him.

    I remember suggesting a trade for Vrbata well before last years deadline but I can’t imagine paying him what he got in the off-season.

  37. Jonathan says:

    Gratton is cretinous in the Jason Chimera mold.

    But not in the Jesse Boulerice mode, and that makes a difference. This team could use a little bit (not a lot) of nasty.

  38. knighttown says:

    Wow, after I pointed out that Gratton doesn’t bring much but faceoffs someone at HF Boards posted this:

    “Sounds like Gratton is a poor mans Shawn Horcoff. That would be perfect for this team. Put him in the bottom 6 and then trade Horrific for a legitmate first line player.”

    Traktor, you don’t go by Agent Zero over there do ya:)

  39. kinger says:

    who many suggested would be a good signing because of his underlying numbers was just put on waivers.

    Link?

  40. Bank Shot says:

    2007-08
    PK GA/60- 8.92 (3rd worst on that awful TB team last year)and -8.9 this year.

    So, in a narrow view he might be able to help this team win a few faceoffs but a primo penalty killer he’s not.

    Is the 5 on 3 stuff rolled into these PK numbers? I think they are based on the fact that guys like Stoll, Kesler, and Zetterberg rated poorly against their teammates in PK GAON 07-08.

    Poor numbers may actually mean that a player is one of the best options for the PK.

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