The Rise and Fall of Jeff Petry

I don’t recall a prospect in the Edmonton Oilers system with the same distance between his statistics and the verbiage available on him.

Jeff Petry was the Oilers top pick in the summer of 2006, which was the year Edmonton went all the way to G7 SCF. In his draft year his team (Des Moines, USHL) won their championship and he played in that league’s all-star game.

The following year he had a dominant season in the USHL, winning USA Hockey’s Junior player of the year award. It was during this time that the scouting reports began to reach epic proportions. Leading the way were Kevin Prendergast (if scouting reports are a day at the dog track KP is the rabbit on the rail) and Hockey’s Future.

Looking at that final USHL season (55gp, 18-27-45) we see a ton of offense and a plus minus (Even) that ranked #1 among the team’s regulars. Although the USHL isn’t the NCAA the numbers (across the board) suggested there was something to get excited about.

I had two concerns about Petry as a player. First, he was pretty old to be playing in the USHL (he turned 19 in December of his final season at that level) and second there were always whispers about foot-speed. These are important considerations: one of the real positives for Matt Greene all down the line was his ability to skate and for a big defenseman that’s a wonderful skill.

When he arrived in the NCAA, Petry did it in style. His first season with Michigan State saw him make the NCAA West-Regional All Tournament Team, the CCHA All-Rookie Team and won Michigan State’s Top Rookie and Outstanding Defenseman awards.

  • Boxcars: 42gp, 3-21-24 28pims
  • Plus Minus: +2 (team was +12)
  • Powerplay: 1-11-12 (50% of offense)
  • Shots: 82

I think Petry’s offense was heavily reliant on the powerplay and the veterans he played with as a freshman in the NCAA. His plus minus was solid for a rookie but this was a veteran bunch and it’s likely a decent bet he wasn’t playing the best opposition in his first college season.

This past season the wheel’s came off for the Spartans and Petry was unable to do much to stop it. I don’t think there’s much doubt he was playing heavy and long minutes for his team and that those circumstances dictated the poor numbers.

  • Boxcars: 38gp, 2-12-14 32pims
  • Plus Minus: -31 (team was -53)
  • Powerplay: 2-8-10 (71% of offense)
  • Shots: 85

A few important points here: The team was horrible and Petry (from what we’ve read and seen) played monster minutes for this team. A club that is -53 and runs three D pairings would have a “line in the sand” number for the D of -18 (53 divided by 3) but we can allow for some extra bleeding due to his increased minutes. This was a saloon door defense though, and I don’t think we can reasonably argue Petry was a lone shining light for the team. Here are the plus minus numbers for the blue:

  1. Brock Shelgren +1
  2. Matt Crandell -11
  3. Justin Johnston -15
  4. Brandon Gentile -18
  5. Tim Buttery -22
  6. Jeff Petry -31

I don’t think you can build a reasonable case for Petry as a shutdown defender based on these numbers.

The other point is in regard to offense. Based on his college numbers it looks like a bunch of his offense comes from the powerplay. He does have a big shot (95mph) so this may be an area of strength for him.

I have Petry ranked #19 as an Oilers prospect at this time. Much of the reason has to do with this past season and his splits (first half: 18gp, 1-6-7 -11; second half: 20gp, 1-6-7 -20) plus the fact that the things he brings offensively (powerplay help) are very difficult spots to win in the NHL. The odds of the Oilers not having a superior defender for their PP during the first several years of Petry’s pro career are very low.

HF has him at #6, which is a reasonable number compared to the #1 slot given in the past. Petry has size, a plus shot and his skating has apparently improved. We need to step back from the hype and see what he is: an interesting prospect the odds do not favor at this time.

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15 Responses to "The Rise and Fall of Jeff Petry"

  1. Coach pb9617 says:

    JW and I have him at 15. Everything I read about him put his ATOI at around 29 minutes per game. The two games I did see – he was overwhelmed.

    The team was really bad though.

  2. Ribs says:

    I can't say I've ever had any interest in the player. The drop in your rankings seems reasonable if not inevitable.

  3. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Comrie's not coming and Penner on the third line according to Matheson.

    http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/truth+Comrie+Edmonton+return+rumour/1941861/story.html

  4. Lowetide says:

    That article is interesting because the numbers paint a gloomy and incorrect picture. The Oilers in fact have over a million in cap room, as the bonuses don't count this season.

    Having said that, the way Matheson frames the issue usually reflects management's spin so there you go.

    I'm fine with not pursuing Comrie but Cogs on the 1line is a big stretch imo. Unless you're planning on playing Horcoff's line against the soft parade and that's a complete waste.

  5. oil dude says:

    That article is interesting because the numbers paint a gloomy and incorrect picture.

    Yeah that was weird. He also lists Motin as a 2nd rounder. Ah well, lets hope his source who says Comrie isn't a fit wasn't an "out of the loop" Tambellini while Katz is putting the finishing touches on the deal. Either way this whole Comrie thing is just a PR campaign to repair the Oilers image throughout the league.

  6. linnaeus says:

    I want to return to Jeff Petry for a moment. Don't get me wrong, I think both the Mike Comrie rumor and the Cogliano as your first line left winger are more immediately important to the Oilers than why Jeff Petry has fallen so far. It is just that I saw him play eight times last year and I think I can explain his struggles. I am with Coach, every game I sam Petry play, he was in trouble.

    Okay, the team was horrible, and he was clearly their leader on defence, maybe their leader period. That can't help either your confidence or your plus minus. He was also playing not just tons of minutes but best competition, so that was probably a factor as well.

    There was also a lot to like. He's a big kid with a long reach, he positions well and reads the play pretty reliably. Going forward he is a plus skater, and by all accounts getting better. He is mobile, active, and plays with attitude. He also likes to hit people. He is a decent passer and I'm betting his shot is now quite a bit more than a 95mph blast. He has entered cannon class but isn't very accurate with it.

    His problems all come when he is skating backwards. I watched this kid, Matt Rust, blow around Petry like he was a pylon. Over and over again. Rust is a truly tremendous skater but Petry was just totally out of his league. Not to mention Michigan's first line also ate him alive, but then again they ate everybody alive. However, he showed the same problem against them, he isn't good on the cross over while skating backwards, particularly going to his left side.

    I really think his down year is explained by more minutes than he could cope with and some unresolved technical issues with his skating that got worse as he fatigued. In the third period Petry was often particularly brutal. We see this sometimes with Sheldon Souray. An average skater most of the time, as the minutes build up Souray has trouble with his defensive positioning because his skating deteriorates and he takes dumb penalties late in the game trying to avoid becoming a pylon. Petry is a bit more disciplined, slightly smaller, and likely to be a superior skater ultimately, but Souray is probably the best comparable for Petry of any current NHLer.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Interesting. Souray's not a great skater but lordy if you're terrible skating backwards then defense is a tough position to play. Yikes.

  8. linnaeus says:

    For all I know Petry was hurt, sprained ankle, or similar problem. Plus, it is the sort of technical problem you should be able to teach. I've always been a goalie so I all I know about skating biomechanics is what Claire Drake tried to pound into my head years and years ago. Petry seems fine doing the crossover at speed but when he gets to more or less standing still in his own end he is in trouble. I'd say we should be considering him a project, rather than a prospect. Souray, I seem to recall, has had problems being a huge negative in the plus minus as well.

  9. linnaeus says:

    I mean the sort of problem you should be able to teach around. My bad.

  10. bookie says:

    Wait though, the vision of Katz and Comrie's dad sitting together in a golf cart phoning 'the boy' to tell him he's an Oiler arn't true. How could it be? Why would anyone create such a story?

    Could it be that the Edmonton Public is so hockeycentric and small-town minded that they look for drama at every turn? Is hockey our soap opera?

    Probably what happened is Katz raised the idea to Tambolini, who than thought about it for a few hours and maybe even chatted about it with someone, then decided it was a bad idea and told Katz. Katz said, ok, your the guy I hire for this stuff so I will leave it to you…

    How boring!

  11. Lord Bob says:

    I have to admit, if it was a ploy to land us Heatley I was kinda getting jazzed up for the Comrie thing.

    Kinda. I mean, that lineup would have worked slightly better than the one we've got and it would have been fun to watch.

    But, hell, if Tambs is spending his time getting a 3/4C instead of wasting time with former 89, I'm even happier.

  12. Coach pb9617 says:

    What also was concerning about Petry was that there was absolutely no recovery to his game. When he was beat, he was beat. He didn't get back to the play. Yes, I realize that playing on the worst major college hockey team in the country will do that to you, but it was disheartening to see.

  13. Jfry says:

    if i were the oilers i'd be saying over and over again that Cogs will be our number one left wing this year.

    it's obvious they've already included him in a deal, so they're willing to trade him…increase his value as much as possible by repeating the mantra…at all cost, represent him as a larger asset than he really is.

  14. gogliano says:

    I said it earlier in the summer but I think having Cogs play, at least part time, 1LW might be the carrot for Cogs to embrace the LW position. I think it is worth a shot – his shooting percentage has had enough "sustain" that he might develop into a real talented left winger. And if he continues to be on the market getting him some points is a good thing.

    As for Petry, I saw him play regularly the year before last; linnaeus scouting report is far better than I could provide, and it rings true with my viewing. In a lot of ways I think he is an ideal 2nd round pick; he still has some issues but if works them out he can be a very useful player (a wide range of skills as LT likes to say) in his mid to late twenties. They hype was too much a couple years ago but he has not fallen into a Schremp like elevator shaft either.

  15. oilerdiehard says:

    Foot-speed is a drawback? I think Petry has some drawbacks but I am not sure I would count skating as one of them. Especially in straight lines the kid can haul at a nice clip.

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