RE 10-11: Jeff Petry

A lot of smart hockey people believe Jeff Petry is going to be a quality NHL defenseman. The Oilers clearly love him, have pretty much since the day Petry was selected in the 2006 Entry Draft.

Petry comes from a baseball background but loved the game of hockey enough to commit early. The young man had a good season in college before turning pro and then impressed at the Oilers rookie camp in July. Oiler fans began to get a little nervous, worrying the organization might fast track Petry to the NHL ala Taylor Chorney.

Enter the voice of reason, Tom Renney: “We have to make sure–even with a player who has been very impressive here–as more of an adult looking player here at this camp; Jeff is not an NHLer today. It’s not the wrong thing for us to make sure he goes to Oklahoma City, so he can get a feel for the physical nature of the game. We can expect too much of this player who is so good in so many areas, and then three months from now we’re saying ‘what happened?’ Well let’s not go there.”

•Boxcars: 38gp, 4-25-28 (all numbers NCAA)
•Shots: 93
•Plus Minus: +1
•PIMS: 26
•Cap Hit: $1,000,000

  1. What do these numbers tell us? He’s a solid offensive player, although we need to remember that a lot of the output for D comes from being used on the PP. Petry’s PP totals (38gp, 2-14-16) need to be taken into consideration when we look at him as an offensive player. His EV result (38gp, 2-11-13) this season is pretty close to his number as a freshman in 07-08 (42gp, 2-10-12). The 93 shots are a nice total. Chorney’s career high in the NCAA was 88, Wild’s was 94 (in 32 games). They (once again) appear to be similar offensive talents. He was 8gp, 0-3-3 -10 in his pro debut in Springfield, a team that was the hockey equivalent of “Sonny at the Causeway.”
  2. How could these numbers be better? It’s tough to say. Some of the State blue had better plus minus numbers, but we have anecdotal evidence that Petry faced the toughest available competition. My best guess is that he had a good year and we shouldn’t be too concerned about what he delivered in 09-10.
  3. What kind of player is he? The scouting report suggests that Petry has the widest range of skills among the group of defensemen we’re talking about at the prospect level. He has size (6.03 and apparently around 200 pounds) and the ability to move the puck. His footspeed has long been touted and a recent David Staples article suggests it is indeed a little above average.
  4. Where does he rank among the young blue? I think the Copper and Blue guys reflect the range beautifully. Among the five members of the panel, Petry ranks anywhere from #7 to #18 on their list. I have Petry at #7 on the winter list and #12 on the summer edition, but in fairness the Oilers had a huge draft with Hall, Pitlick and Marincin all in my top 10 after the draft. I’d have him behind Peckham and Plante among the pro defensemen trying to make the grade, but that range of skills is a pretty big deal. He could easily be the best among the group.
  5. Have you finally given up on Cody Wild? No sir. I see Wild and Riley Nash as players the organization flushed too soon as part of a change in perspective. That’s fine, and getting Marincin for Nash is a nice trade. But Marquardt for Wild? I don’t think that’s a trade anyone can defend even if Cody Wild never plays an NHL game.
  6. Make a call. Is he any good? His NHLE (82gp, 4-22-26) makes him (once again) the strongest offensive defenseman in the system and his wider range of skills gives us some hope for a more complete defender than someone like Chorney (Petry is 4 inches and 20 pounds bigger than Chorney). Petry’s -10 in 8 AHL games to close the season once again gives us pause in regard to rushing college defensemen to the show, and I believe the organization will be very patient with him. A full season in the minors would probably be the best thing for Petry’s development.
  7. Perhaps you don’t understand “make a call.” Is HE ANY GOOD? Yes. I don’t think he’s Tom Gilbert but I do like Petry’s size, speed, skill and overall tools. He could be an excellent NHL defenseman a few years down the line.
  8. How important is he to the organization? Petry might be the one defenseman the Oilers need to make the grade. If he can become a poor man’s Tom Gilbert (with more grit) then the club can move forward and piece together a workable blueline. It is a big deal, because the Oilers might be a lottery team again next season and if these defensemen develop the club can choose the de facto BPA instead of the D stud (Adam Larsson from Sweden) at the top of the draft. The 2011 NHL Entry draft boasts three elite level center prospects: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sean Couturier and Viktor Rask.

Prediction for 2010-11: 15gp, 1-1-2
Has more grit than Chorney, more skill than Peckham

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