Lennart Petrell was part of a 4line from hell the Edmonton Oilers featured in 2011-12. The club brought him back for another year. Why would they do that?

RE 12-13: 53, 4-4-8

  1. Petrell had a strange season.  At 5×5, he was among the worst regular forwards in the entire NHL. But he’s innocent, with an explanation.
  2. Why? Copper and Blue (specifically Derek Zona, who loves the Finns more than me!)  had some interesting numbers up just before spring. The post-Lander item on Petrell is here and here and the overall numbers are here. Very interesting information there.
  3. What’s does Zona say? Quoting Zona: “Petrell’s possession numbers have been the worst in the league throughout the 2011-12 season. So to see any period, even a small stretch of games, where Petrell is above water is a shock. But Petrell isn’t just above water – he’s been great. His Corsi falls off a bit, indicating he and his mates are blocking shots, but if this is the real Lennart Petrell, it’s a revelation.”
  4. Striking. You bet, the pre and post Lander graph is outstanding.
  5. So he can make a difference? There is compelling evidence that suggests Petrell–without the Lander factor–could be a player. It is not a season long, but it is evidence and does make sense based on what we know about Anton Lander and his struggles.
  6. Are there questions beyond the Lander factor? Well, even if we give Lander the failing grade (and he wasn’t ready so the F belongs farther up the chain) I’m not sure Petrell can provide enough offense to survive in the NHL.
  7. How did he score without Lander? He went 1-1-2 in a game against WPG but was blanked in the other 17 post-Lander games. So there’s a concern there about the Petrell  offensively.
  8. What do you like about him? He’s a throwback as a checker. Aggressive on the forecheck, backchecks like hell and isn’t afraid to lift the stick and steal puck. Plus he’s a solid positional player, he’ll hit the opponent–not to knock his teeth out, but to take him out of the play–and change the on-ice equation. And he doesn’t back down plus he can handle the puck and has nice passing skills. Petrell has this thing he does on the PK where he goes stealth in the neutral zone and then darts into the play when the puck carrier hits center ice. It’s very effective, old timey too. Used to do that a thousand years ago.
  9. What else? I think the Oilers need a Pisani and this guy has some of the things that we associate with quality 2-way play.
  10. But Pisani could score. Sure. Fernando Pisani scored 15 goals per 82gp during his NHL career, skated miles to be in good position and mentored a generation of Oiler kids while helping them with their P’s and Q’s.
  11. Where do you see Petrell lining up? As you can see from the GP, I have Petrell in a group with Eager and Hordichuk at the very back of the roster. It’ll be a tough job to find his way through this crowded roster.
  12. What will his role be when in the lineup? 4line, some PK. Don’t screw it up, pop one goal a month if you can.
  13. One goal a month? Six goals from a fourth liner seems about right. I don’t think these fellows are going to get 12 minutes a night on a regular basis.
  14. Do the odds favor him? No.
  15. Why did they sign him? I think they see a player here and maybe on some level they saw the things Mr. Zona points out above. It’s possible.
  16. Well maybe it’ll work out. Sure, he doesn’t cost much and you never know. However, any roster player–especially forward–who can see 30 straight ahead is probably not going to be around for the good times. The center of the cluster is Taylor Hall, who is 7.5 years younger.
  17. How many Finns have played for the Oilers over the years? I count 19 since they entered the NHL. Five from Helsinki alone–Matti Hagman, Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen, Jani Rita and Lennart Petrell.
  18. Impressive company. Yeah. Jari Kurri will always be on my favorite list. What a tremendous hockey player.
  19. How many Finns have played in the NHL? hockey-reference says 160, so about 12% of them have played for Edmonton.
  20. I hope it all works out for Petrell. Me too. I’ll be cheering for him.

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15 Responses to "RE 12-13: LENNART PETRELL"

  1. BlacqueJacque says:

    I always liked Petrell and could never explain it other than “saw him good”. He does the little things right, is quite fast for his size and reasonably physical.

    Nice to see Mr. Zona has something to back my insanity up.

  2. OilLeak says:

    I noticed that Petrell was playing much better without Lander late last season, it will definitely be interesting if he can carry over some of the late season success to next season. I don’t mind bringing back Petrell at all, it he’s good next season then the Oilers have found a player, if he’s not then he serves a useful purpose in OKC and when injuries hit the Oilers. Yes he’s practically devoid of offense, but you could say the same thing about 4-5 forwards that played for Edmonton last season. 1 year contract, low cap hit, low risk.

  3. Melman says:

    In addition to the Lander factor, some consideration must also be given to the whole moving to a new country with your wife and kid(s) and getting used to the NHL way of things. That is an adjustment that takes time and can affect a player’s performance. I think with Belanger he can form part of an effective 4th line and help on the PK. I’d rather have him dropping in front of shots than Eberle.

    Never hurts to have a tough as nails Finn on your team:)

  4. Jonathan Willis says:

    Unfortunately for the theory that Lennart Petrell is a good player sunk by Lander, after those first seven games he went back into the Corsi/Fenwick scrap-pile.

    With Petrell on the ice at even-strength in 18 games post-Lander, they were out-shot 76-64 and out-Fenwick’d 99-87. The team as a whole without Petrell on the ice over that stretch went 418-432 in terms of shots. That means that Petrell’s shots ratio was 0.457 while the team was 0.487 – and 0.492 w/o Petrell..

  5. Lowetide says:

    Dammit Willis! You’re ruining my issue framing! :-)

    Any theories about their reasoning behind hiring him again?

  6. JohnnyRocket says:

    Good point, Jonathan. While the splits with Lander are interesting, we need the fourth line to be something other than a black hole. I don’t see why the puck would start moving in the right direction with the same personnel. I believe the Harski needs a chance on this line. Sit Eager/Hordichuk in the third and roll out Harksi-Belanger-Hall. I’m not sure we need Petrell’s PK skills with Horcoff/Smyth/Belanger all playing reduced minutes this year. They’ll be rested enough.

  7. Jonathan Willis says:

    @ Lowetide:

    6’3″, Finnish.

  8. bill needle says:

    55 games for Petrell is a reasonable expectation? In which league?

  9. jp says:

    I don’t mind bringing him back. He’s cheap and brings lots of things you like in a 4th liner. I agree that Paajarvi and Hartikainen should play over him (everyone other than Hordichuk actually), but it’s not bad to have extra bodies around for depth. If one or both young guys don’t grab a full-time spot in TC, it’s better to have Petrell in the press box and them OKC than the youngsters watching from upstairs. And he does hit, stick up for teammates a bit, PK and play solid defensively. The offense doesn’t look like it’s coming, but not much happens at either end of the ice with him out there. You’ll note in the full season scoring chance chart that only Paajarvi and Lander were on the ice for fewer chances against per TOI. He’s not outscoring opponents, but he is generally limiting chances against. Nothing to get excited about, but there are worse things in the world from a 4th liner.

  10. Woodguy says:

    Here’s Petrell’s 5v5 faceoff adjusted Corsi WOWY’s as per (link:

    Short version:

    DEVAN DUBNYK 0.403 0.371 0.482
    NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN 0.368 0.405 0.49
    ANTON LANDER 0.363 0.406 0.465
    BEN EAGER 0.384 0.389 0.449
    LADISLAV SMID 0.44 0.367 0.485
    JEFF PETRY 0.49 0.35 0.497
    RYAN WHITNEY 0.317 0.414 0.465
    COREY POTTER 0.407 0.382 0.49
    ERIC BELANGER 0.444 0.37 0.469
    ANDY SUTTON 0.421 0.377 0.497
    TOM GILBERT 0.319 0.404 0.496
    SHAWN HORCOFF 0.381 0.389 0.488
    RYAN SMYTH 0.396 0.386 0.475
    THEO PECKHAM 0.374 0.39 0.47
    CAM BARKER 0.368 0.392 0.438
    DARCY HORDICHUK 0.405 0.386 0.417
    NICK SCHULTZ 0.271 0.4 0.433
    RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS 0.333 0.393 0.495

    First number is with team mate, 2nd is without team mate, 3rd is team mate apart.

    His without Lander is .406. .450 is NHL replacement level according to most.

    Petrell is below AHL replacement in this table.

    Re-signing him Is Mental.

  11. oilgeek says:

    Could it be that our billionaire owner is allowing for a little more gambling, and worst case is you send him to OKC and pay him $800k? It’s only a one yr deal, so it’s a short term risk.

  12. Joe Nova says:

    I have only derived my conclusions on Petrell based on what I see of him on the ice. When he is on the ice I have this level of comfort that the opposition will not score. It was the same feeling I had when Pisani was with the Oilers … they always seemed to do the right thing defensively … I find him to be a subset of Pisani (defensively sound but without much offence). If I was coach of the Oilers and there was one minute left to play with a one-goal lead, I would have Horcoff, Smith and Petrall in there as the shutdown forwards.

    I am surprised at the negativity over his signing … but if the stats support that he is sub par then I guess I have just been watching the games with blinders on.

  13. Cactus says:

    Dammit Willis! You’re ruining my issue framing!

    Any theories about their reasoning behind hiring him again?

    I think they wanted a player who they knew and felt comfortable sitting in the press box for as many as half the games. Obviously, this is pure speculation, but I think they realized their error of having Paajarvi out of the roster, but not in the AHL for that stretch at the beginning of the season. With Petrell, you’ve got a 14th forward you can use and abuse with impunity as there’s no consideration to his long-term development.

  14. Lowetide says:

    Cactus: Seems reasonable.

  15. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    Corsi is a team stat. Saying 450 doesn’t mean anything on the Oilers with the team they iced last year.

    Improve the D, improve the corsi.

    Petrell can do what 4th liners on this team need to: forecheck and PK. I won’t claim to know if he does it well, but he’s affordable, fills a need, and likely won’t complain when spending time in the PB. His signing also makes an Eager or Jones trade more viable if it comes up. A fine signing.

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