The Edmonton Oilers are relying heavily on Jeff Petry as the season winds down. How important is Jeff Petry to this team’s future? Is there “enough” on the blue, or will management fool themselves into believing balance and depth exist?
In 2011-12, Jeff Petry leads Oiler defenders in TOI at evens (18:09 per game), is third in SH TOI (2:20 per game) and fifth in PP TOI (1:13 per game). This is sans Tom Gilbert, but any fool can see Dan Petry’s boy is playing a tremendous amount in every game (north of 25 minutes many nights these days).
Petry’s zone start are 3rd toughest on the team (behind Smid and Schultz is also listed, but his stats are mostly Wild numbers), his Qual Comp is second toughest (Smid) and his CR is third best (and in the black) for the season.
Let’s assume the Oilers plan on running Smid-Petry as their top pairing next year. That gives them Nick Schultz and Ryan Whitney as the second pairing, with all of Corey Potter, Andy Sutton, Theo Peckham, Colten Teubert, Alex Plante and Taylor Chorney either signed, rfa, or bubbling under in the AHL.
Then there’s the group that includes Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Jeremie Blain, Brandon Davidson, Martin Gernat and David Musil. I believe the Oilers will be cautious bringing these youngsters along (Kyle Bigos is also in the mix but has another NCAA year of eligibility) and it would make sense to keep them outside the NHL this coming season–save for a cup of Joe for those adjusting quickly.
If we use Petry as the template for all of these kids, then age 22 is a reasonable time for a long term (35 games for Petry) audition in the show. That’s 2.5 seasons into their 3-year entry level deals, and although it seems drastic (and we have to allow for quick learners) the results from Petry have been impressive.
I think the addition over the summer will be Ryan Murray. The Oilers will be in a position to draft him with their lottery pick and his skill set is the best available. Murray isn’t an offensive impact player, and expecting him to be a PP option isn’t reasonable. However, his speed and wide range of skills make him a strong, safe pick for Edmonton. Unless Griffin Reinhart turns another corner during the Oil Kings playoff run, Ryan Murray is the logical pick for the Oilers.
That leaves the Oilers with an NHL depth chart for 2012-13:
- Ladislav Smid
- Jeff Petry
- Ryan Whitney
- Nick Schultz
- Andy Sutton
- Ryan Murray
- Corey Potter
- Theo Peckham
Ryan Whitney is once again the key. IF he’s healthy and mobile, then the Oilers top 4 should be good enough and Sutton as a depth option is fine. The 6-7-8 options I’ve listed above are the ones that are open and available; Edmonton may not draft Murray and that slot could be occupied by a free agent signing or a trade acquisition. Potter could spend the entire season in the AHL, and the club could trade or walk Peckham.
We’ll know soon enough, but I’m starting to think the Oilers will do less on the blue than fans want them to this summer. They might be set.