Jeff Petry: Dead Man Skating?

Jonathan Willis
August 22 2014 11:42AM

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There are exactly two holdovers from the Edmonton Oilers blue line that Craig MacTavish inherited when he ascended to the team’s general managership. One is a young defenceman who he helped recruit and who has routinely been lumped in with the best young players on the roster.

The other if Jeff Petry, a pending unrestricted free agent playing on a one-year deal. Would it surprise anyone if Petry were to find himself representing another NHL team before the end of next season?

The Right Side of the Blue Line

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The Oilers have a bunch of players who can play on the right side. Schultz, who we alluded to in the introduction, is an exceptional offensive defenceman who might yet evolve into a true two-way player. MacTavish has publicly described him as “very much one of our core players,” “outstanding” and alternately described his upside as “huge” and “limitless.”

Also playing the position is Mark Fayne, a new arrival who the Oilers signed to a four-year deal as an unrestricted free agent. Asked about the length of the contract in his July 1 presser, MacTavish made it clear that he wasn’t worried about it.

“Mark asked for a shorter term but we felt like he really fit into what we’re trying to build here with his character and the way that he plays,” the G.M. said. “He’s just a really solid player, a solid person, so we were happy with the term with Mark.”

Then there’s Nikita Nikitin, another free agent signing whose best season came on the right side of Fedor Tyutin under the watchful eye of current Oilers executive (and then Columbus Blue Jackets G.M.) Scott Howson. He’s a left-handed shot and will likely start on the left side, but could easily transition over to the right, and he’s earning $4.5 million for the next two seasons.

Right now, the issue is that the left side of the defence (Andrew Ference, Martin Marincin, Keith Aulie, Oscar Klefbom, maybe Darnell Nurse) can’t really afford to lose Nikitin. But it’s not hard to picture that changing, and soon – Nurse, Klefbom and Marincin are all very young and very promising and one would imagine the Oilers will want all three on the team in 2015-16 (barring a trade of one of them).

In a scenario where Nurse plays wonderfully over a nine-game cameo or Klefbom dominates the minor leagues over two dozen games, the Oilers may well decide to clear space in the majors, and an easy way to do that would be to send Petry out and shift Nikitin to starboard.

Centre

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It’s also easy to imagine the kind of deal that could prompt the Oilers to move a defender like Petry. Edmonton, at the moment, appears ready to go into 2014-15 with a centre depth chart that leans heavily on hope, with both Leon Draisaitl and Mark Arcobello penciled into feature roles.

There is a possibility it works – that Draisaitl is ready to go from Day 1 and that Arcobello shows the wonderful form he displayed in filling in for Sam Gagner early last season. The difficulty is if it doesn’t work, something Edmonton should know within 10-20 games.

This is where we draw a line between the uncertainty at centre and the uncertainty on defence. On the blue line, the Oilers have excellent depth and could well find themselves wanting to make room for Klefbom. At centre, they have scanty depth and may need to bring in some outside help.

There were rumours for much of the summer that Petry might be moved out of town – the Islanders were frequently mentioned as a potential trading partner – in order to address the shaky state of centre. It didn’t happen, and as the summer has gone on a big trade has seemed increasingly improbable.

But unlike justice, a trade delayed is not necessarily a trade denied.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Oilcruzer
August 22 2014, 10:39PM
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Gosh. We are talking about moving one of the two more or less established defencemen, and it's the one with better advanced stats yet, when we haven't seen if the changes are going to work?

This is why THIS GUY drinks.

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#52 The Last Big Bear
August 22 2014, 11:14PM
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If you were running another team, would you trade Artem Anisimov for 9 months of Jeff Petry?

I wouldn't make that trade in a million years.

He's worth something in the ballpark of a 2nd or 3rd rounder. That's pretty good for a guy who's effectively a rental now.

Maybe a conditional 3rd that becomes a 2nd if he re-signs with his new team? That sounds fair to me.

He's WORTH a roster player, but it may be hard to find a deal. A playoff team looking for a rental wont want to give up a roster player to get a depth defender, and a rebuilding team won't want to give up a young centre for the rights to a pending UFA.

But if they can find the right buyer in the right situation, the Oilers may recover good value from a guy who is expected to walk for nothing.

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#53 DAVE
August 23 2014, 12:33AM
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Hey, Jonathan, Iam not a big fan of stats, that said, Iam curious of the success rate of defenseman in the NHL that take the college route.Has anybody takin a look at this. When I watch college players,they appear to be less oriented to winning if being mean is required.

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#54 Walter Sobchak
August 23 2014, 07:09AM
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2015Playoffs???Nope! wrote:

What is so wrong with having centre depth? A little competition never hert anyone. How about, in the future, LD and Anisimov can actually battle it out for 2nd and 3rd line centre?

Where in my post does it mention a problem with centre depth? I believe I explained the depth part? No.

What future are you talking about? This year or the next?

So, you fill the second line centre role for a player that might be gone in two years anyways.

That makes sense to you?

So, where does that leave you in year 3? Right back talking about centre depth.

Jenner would push Draisaitl for second line, however, Jenner projects as a third line player, while Draisaitl project as a second.

Both, with term I might add.

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#55 HardBoiledOil
August 23 2014, 10:12AM
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ubermiguel wrote:

Oh wow, the Oilers haven't had centre depth in so long that some of us are putting "Stoll" and "#1 center" in the same sentence. In 05/06 he played well but Horcs was really the #1 guy that year and it was more center-by-committee. Thinking back to that team most of the centres (Horcs, Stoll, Reasoner, Peca, Murray) were defensive minded pivots. Not a lot of offensive flair there.

^exactly where did i say he *WAS* the #1 center? seems to me i said he played *LIKE* a #1 center. and in the '05/'06 season, Stoll had 22 goals and 68 points, while Horcoff had 22 goals and 73 points, so both indeed did play like #1 centers.

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#56 Jeffer
August 23 2014, 11:05AM
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HardBoiledOil wrote:

^exactly where did i say he *WAS* the #1 center? seems to me i said he played *LIKE* a #1 center. and in the '05/'06 season, Stoll had 22 goals and 68 points, while Horcoff had 22 goals and 73 points, so both indeed did play like #1 centers.

Easy there with the number one center talk. Let's not forget we were still an 8th place team that got hot at the right time. It's not like we were a powerhouse all year.

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#57 2015Playoffs???Nope!
August 23 2014, 12:31PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Where in my post does it mention a problem with centre depth? I believe I explained the depth part? No.

What future are you talking about? This year or the next?

So, you fill the second line centre role for a player that might be gone in two years anyways.

That makes sense to you?

So, where does that leave you in year 3? Right back talking about centre depth.

Jenner would push Draisaitl for second line, however, Jenner projects as a third line player, while Draisaitl project as a second.

Both, with term I might add.

First off: Why would Columbus trade away, what could be, a very good player? They dont even know what they have in him yet. He could very well be a second line centre.

Secondly: It would cost more to get a player like that.

Thirdly: Why do you assume that we would only have Anisimov for 2 years? Who's to say he wouldnt resign here. Or who is to say he cant move to the wing. There are a lot of options. He might very well click with a player like Perron or Yak and choose to stick around.

Lastly: Even if he did, worst case scenario, leave after 2 years, it still gave LD a chance to develop properly, and grow into the 2nd line role. By that time, maybe one of Yakimov, Chase, or other has developed into the 3rd line role. Our depth is not as critical (long term) in the bottom sex as it is currently in the top 6.

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#58 Brinbackslats
August 23 2014, 01:06PM
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JW,

Love your work Sir but have serious serious reservation with the optimistic talk surrounding Klefbom. I see the upside in Marancin, and I have high hopes that DNurse will become a really good blueliner. He was exactly who I hoped they picked last year. But Klefbom... It's a big fat Mehhhhh question mark. We'll see. I'd be very surprised to see him "light up" any professional North American League and am certain it will never happen in the NHL. Cap him at mediocrity and hope he gets that far! I've watched him closely now a few times and he is just not THAT good.

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#59 Jeffer
August 23 2014, 01:43PM
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Brinbackslats wrote:

JW,

Love your work Sir but have serious serious reservation with the optimistic talk surrounding Klefbom. I see the upside in Marancin, and I have high hopes that DNurse will become a really good blueliner. He was exactly who I hoped they picked last year. But Klefbom... It's a big fat Mehhhhh question mark. We'll see. I'd be very surprised to see him "light up" any professional North American League and am certain it will never happen in the NHL. Cap him at mediocrity and hope he gets that far! I've watched him closely now a few times and he is just not THAT good.

I'd say the opposite. Love Klefbom and don't see it in Marincin.

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#60 J.R.
August 23 2014, 02:03PM
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sizzay wrote:

As would I, or Brock Nelson. But likely not obtainable with 1 year on Petry's deal.

Petry + Perron for Nelson + Bailey could be feasible

NYI gets a proven top 6 winger and top 4 D

We get a couple of players who play LW or Centre

Any deal that has Perron leaving town sucks.

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#61 HardBoiledOil
August 23 2014, 04:35PM
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Jeffer wrote:

Easy there with the number one center talk. Let's not forget we were still an 8th place team that got hot at the right time. It's not like we were a powerhouse all year.

but we weren't that bad either, just a team that added a star d-man in Pronger and a good alround player in Peca and other players at the trade deadline and needed time to gel. and only cup contending teams have a #1 center? tell that to John Tavares!

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#62 TigerUnderGlass
August 23 2014, 05:25PM
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Jeffer wrote:

Easy there with the number one center talk. Let's not forget we were still an 8th place team that got hot at the right time. It's not like we were a powerhouse all year.

Edit: double post. Stupid phone

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#63 TigerUnderGlass
August 23 2014, 05:25PM
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Jeffer wrote:

Easy there with the number one center talk. Let's not forget we were still an 8th place team that got hot at the right time. It's not like we were a powerhouse all year.

They finished the season 8th, but the roster they had after the deadline was definitely not "an 8th place team".

A lot of people seem to forget the amazing deadline Lowe put together that year, but I can promise you none of the teams they played thought they were playing the 8th best team in the conference, and Horcoff was a hell of a player at that point.

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#64 TigerUnderGlass
August 23 2014, 05:31PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

I actually like TUG & follow him on twitter as well,I tend to think he's actually a very bright guy who brings a soild point to the conversation.

Please don't speak for me ever again.

You're out of your element Donny.

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#65 Walter Sobchak
August 23 2014, 05:59PM
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2015Playoffs???Nope! wrote:

First off: Why would Columbus trade away, what could be, a very good player? They dont even know what they have in him yet. He could very well be a second line centre.

Secondly: It would cost more to get a player like that.

Thirdly: Why do you assume that we would only have Anisimov for 2 years? Who's to say he wouldnt resign here. Or who is to say he cant move to the wing. There are a lot of options. He might very well click with a player like Perron or Yak and choose to stick around.

Lastly: Even if he did, worst case scenario, leave after 2 years, it still gave LD a chance to develop properly, and grow into the 2nd line role. By that time, maybe one of Yakimov, Chase, or other has developed into the 3rd line role. Our depth is not as critical (long term) in the bottom sex as it is currently in the top 6.

As per your 1-4, it goes both ways.

1) then why would they trade Anisimov? He's an actual NHL player and not a prospect.

2) no, it would not cost more to get Jenner. Would you expect more for RNH or Draisaitl?

3) Think like a GM, if your going to trade Petry an actual NHL developed defensemen for Anisimov two years is a gamble.

Does he resign? What inside information do you have to suggest he would resign? So would it be prudent to make that trade given there is a very good chance he doesn't sign.....

Lastly

Again, you are comfortable using both term and player (Anisimov ) while you wait for a player (Draisaitl) to develop so you can insert that player into the line up once Anisimov contract expires?

So, trade Petry, fill a hole with Anisimov, wait till Draisaitl is ready & watch both Anisimov and Petry walk and still be down a centre at the end?

Ok, you go with that.

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#66 Quicksilver ballet
August 23 2014, 06:41PM
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Jeff has done his time. 7 yrs to establish himself as an NHL has gone by rather quickly. It has become a familiar sequence of events for this market. Petry leaves Edmonton with his best days in this league ahead of him.

Hopefully he's one of the most sought after blueliners at the deadline. He could also be one of the principles used to finally get a 2nd line center.

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#67 The Last Big Bear
August 23 2014, 07:24PM
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Jeffer wrote:

I'd say the opposite. Love Klefbom and don't see it in Marincin.

Much as I hate to say it as a Flames fan, but I think they're both NHL defencemen in a few years.

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#68 Buke
August 23 2014, 09:32PM
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Will wrote:

Wow, I hate retrospect.

Losing Glencross was definitely one of the stranger moves made by management. I remember he came in, did well, then they let him walk, and complained they needed a player of his type right up until they got Gordon.

In terms of the team today, he doesn't really make a lot of sense as our LW depth is arguably deepest in the league.

In fact, I would really like to take a look at the point production from our LW on the season and compare that around the league. I bet dollars to doughnuts it decimates the competition.

But for a young flames team, he is a great guy to have on the wings to help guys like Monahan and Bennet, assuming he can keep up to the play.

I will take that action.

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#69 Jeffer
August 24 2014, 12:19AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

They finished the season 8th, but the roster they had after the deadline was definitely not "an 8th place team".

A lot of people seem to forget the amazing deadline Lowe put together that year, but I can promise you none of the teams they played thought they were playing the 8th best team in the conference, and Horcoff was a hell of a player at that point.

You and I don't tend to agree often but I can definitely agree with you here. Very valid points.

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#70 Sturgeonwillie
August 24 2014, 12:33AM
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Jeffer wrote:

I'd say the opposite. Love Klefbom and don't see it in Marincin.

There is ZERO indication in Klefbom's Swedish or AHL career to date that he has NHL top pair potential, Marincin's AHL numbers are very good and are comparable to many players that have gone on to be top pair D

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#71 TerkMaJeb
August 24 2014, 12:49AM
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Klefbom has poise, something none of our current D has. Doesn't ring the puck around the boards to the waiting Dman who brings it back in with ease. Marincin is OK, but needs a defining role, he's kind of meh.

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#72 Bringbackslats
August 24 2014, 09:53AM
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Jeffer wrote:

I'd say the opposite. Love Klefbom and don't see it in Marincin.

Are you watching MLS soccer again Jeffer... And confusing it once more with NHL hockey. I just don't know what games you're watching where Klefbom was better than Martin. It just didn't happen.

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#73 Bringbackslats
August 24 2014, 09:58AM
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TerkMaJeb wrote:

Klefbom has poise, something none of our current D has. Doesn't ring the puck around the boards to the waiting Dman who brings it back in with ease. Marincin is OK, but needs a defining role, he's kind of meh.

Poise?? No actually from what I've seen he does not. I saw him continually panic and make poor decisions quickly followed by poorly executed passes. He guards the puck well in the corners and behind his net, but he has not learned to play heads up hockey yet. At least not on the smaller NA rink. He'll be in OKC next year.

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#74 2015Playoffs???Nope!
August 24 2014, 10:10AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

As per your 1-4, it goes both ways.

1) then why would they trade Anisimov? He's an actual NHL player and not a prospect.

2) no, it would not cost more to get Jenner. Would you expect more for RNH or Draisaitl?

3) Think like a GM, if your going to trade Petry an actual NHL developed defensemen for Anisimov two years is a gamble.

Does he resign? What inside information do you have to suggest he would resign? So would it be prudent to make that trade given there is a very good chance he doesn't sign.....

Lastly

Again, you are comfortable using both term and player (Anisimov ) while you wait for a player (Draisaitl) to develop so you can insert that player into the line up once Anisimov contract expires?

So, trade Petry, fill a hole with Anisimov, wait till Draisaitl is ready & watch both Anisimov and Petry walk and still be down a centre at the end?

Ok, you go with that.

You're so confident that Anisimov will walk at the end of his two year contract. So what makes you assume Petry won't walk at the end of this season?

Yes, I'm perfectly fine turning a soon-to-be UFA in Perry into an asset in Anisimov, who will fill a large gap in our roster.

And yes, it WOULD cost more to get Jenner. RFAs with entry level deals are highly sought after. No inside information here, just common sense.

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#75 Jeffer
August 24 2014, 11:56AM
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Bringbackslats wrote:

Are you watching MLS soccer again Jeffer... And confusing it once more with NHL hockey. I just don't know what games you're watching where Klefbom was better than Martin. It just didn't happen.

I have no clue what you were watching if you didn't see it.

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