#12 Prospect: Jeff Petry

Winter 2009: #7
Summer 2010: #12

Winter 2010: #12

In the 10 drafts between 1996 and 2005, the Edmonton Oilers selected 13 defensemen in the top 3 rounds. Of the baker’s dozen chosen, only 2 (Tom Poti & Matt Greene) established themselves as regulars.

The list of defenders drafted in the first 3 rounds 2006-10 looks more promising (Theo Peckham, Jeff Petry, Alex Plante, Troy Hesketh, Martin Marincin) and there are a few hold overs from the 96-05 group (Chorney) who still have a chance to become NHL regulars.

I never did find a good pre-draft scouting report about Jeff Petry. I know that International Scouting Services liked him (#109) and he was #36 North American skater according to Central Scouting. I did find a nice description post-draft courtesy our friend Guy Flaming (at that time covering the Oilers for HF):

  • “Petry is a smart two-way defenseman who is an excellent skater with good mobility, which he uses to shut down opponents. The 6’2.5, 176-pound Petry plays with an edge and can lay out some good hits. He also doesn’t mind battling in front of the net. Offensively, Petry has a cannon for a point shot, but often uses a wrist shot as well so that it does not get blocked and does not allow the goaltender to set up. Petry also uses his skating and stick skills to make accurate passes out of the zone or to skate the puck up himself, which he has the speed and stickhandling to do.”

In following Petry as a prospect, I read a lot of conflicting statements. Guy’s description is a pretty exciting one, and I’m sure he got it from credible sources. However, his college coach Rick Comley said “I thought that on some nights he was our best player and other nights, he played more like a freshman.”

Petry had some excellent college seasons and one poor one, so that when he arrived at the pro level there was still some mystery to his game. The organization has always been strong on him, but Kevin Prendergast loved everybody. This past training camp, Tom Renney gave us a very nice description of the Petry’s status:

  • “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.”

Dan Petry’s boy has always done pretty well when run through Desjardins’ NHLE’s. Petry can post the offense; here are his equivalencies through the years:

  • 07-08 (20) 82gp, 2-17-19 (.232)
  • 08-09 (21) 82gp, 2-10-12 (.146)
  • 09-10 (22) 82gp, 4-22-26 (.317)
  • 10-11 (23) 82gp, 6-16-22 (.268) (so far)

Petry is a big man with speed and mobility, works hard and can win puck battles. He’s a plus passer and a workhorse, spending as much as 30 minutes a night on the State blue when he played there. The Oilers love him, they spent some time gushing over him even as he was on the way to a diabolical -31 (on a -53 team) during the 08-09 season.

The Bubbling Under blog laid waste to Winnipeg over the weekend and gave us a very nice update on the OKC team. Of great importance to our conversation here is the following:

  • Jeff Petry was an impressive physical specimen, both in his size and his skating ability. What surprised me was that he and Shawn Belle were kept away from the Moose’s top players at even strength. I had thought that Petry was taking on tough opposition but this wasn’t the case tonight. It is important to note however that the Petry-Belle tandem was the first over the boards on both SH and PP chances, and that’s a good sign for the young prospect. Maybe they’re taking the lessons learned from Chorney (throwing the kid into the deep end and hope he knows how to swim), and are bringing Petry along slower at EV but with added special teams responsibilities. Was relatively high-event tonight, on the ice for both Barons goals and one goal against.

My own personal view of this season in OKC is that the pairings are equal enough (when everyone is healthy) that the coach doesn’t need to worry too much about any combination of Belle, Petry, Petiot, Taylor, Chorney or Plante most nights. I could be wrong, but would suggest it is possible that the minor league team has plenty of qualified hands on the blue.

Petry is playing big minutes in all situations and certainly on the way to an NHL job. I don’t think anyone can reasonably argue against it.

I think Jeff Petry will have a solid NHL career. His scouting report suggests a player somewhat similar to Tom Gilbert–perhaps a little more physical and maybe a little less impressive as a passer–and his splits suggest he’s a quick learner:

  • First 12 AHL games ’10-’11: 2-5-7 -8
  • Next 12 AHL games 10-’11: 2-5-7 Even

If Petry is going to emerge as a top quality talent, I expect it will be due to his work on the powerplay. At even strength, he’s about equal with everyone else who gets extended minutes for the Barons. On the powerplay, he’s having some impressive success:

  1. Jeff Petry 2-7-9
  2. Shawn Belle 2-6-8
  3. Taylor Chorney 0-4-4
  4. Alex Plante 0-2-2
  5. Richard Petiot 0-1-1

Obviously Belle and Petry are getting the lion’s share of the PP time, but they’re also delivering well. Petry’s 7 PP assists rank him 2nd among all rookie defensemen in the AHL so far this season and in the top 20 overall. If he’s going to be head and shoulders better than Plante this would imo be the one area where he could do it. Having said that, rookie defensemen rarely step onto the #1 PP AS rookies, so this would be a more long term item. I’d guess that Marc-Andre Bergeron was the last Oiler rookie defender to play extended powerplay minutes as a rookie.

Age. The one time we don’t really talk about a lot with regard to Petry is his age. He will be 23 years old when he makes his NHL debut (if he does it in the next 12 months), meaning that he’s an older prospect and that he is closer to free agency. If he does emerge as an offensive defender, his pricetag is going to move up quickly and the chances of Edmonton getting a value contract between entry level and the one where they buy UFA seasons is almost nil. Although this is sometimes blown out of proportion, it is a consideration when evaluating talent and projecting the top 20.

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