In the last couple of weeks I’ve talked about some possible callups from the Barons, specifically Chris Vande Velde and Theo Peckham. Although the Barons will have some other good young options for callup, the most interesting player in the group is probably Jeff Petry.
Let me begin by saying I don’t think the Oilers will keep Petry in the NHL to start the season. Tom Renney, right after being hired, said this about the young college man: "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."
That quote married to Steve Tambellini’s stated goal of having prospects hit a specific set of stops along the way suggests Dan Petry’s son is going to see some time in Oklahoma. Having said that, Petry is a mobile defender with the widest range of skills on the "bubbling under" roster. The team can address toughness with newly acquired Jim Vandermeer and Peckham, so depending on need Petry might see a callup sometime in 2010-11.
Petry’s Desjardins’ NHL equivalencies blossomed last season. Here are the numbers by year (age in brackets):
- 2-17-19 (20)
- 2-10-12 (21)
- 4-22-26 (22)
You might be thinking 22-years old is long in the tooth for a college prospect, but that in fact is a fairly typical age for that league (which is why sending 18-year old kids into the fray is perhaps unwise). We can see that Petry has sufficient offense to be termed a "2-way" defender when taking into account his defensive ability.
And it is those defensive sorties that he’ll be working on in the AHL. Read and react, learning to pass up the big hit in favor of positioning, learning how tough it is to move motivated AHL regulars from the spot they’ve occupied and generally having the game slow down enough to play it well at speed. It takes some players a long time, and in light of the failed Taylor Chorney experiment I think the Oilers will be doubly cautious.
In the winter of 2009 I wrote the following: Petry is a big man (6.03, 200) 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. The Oilers love him.
Two things have changed since then: Petry had a poor college season and then recovered with a very good one. And the Edmonton Oilers may have lost a very high draft pick (Chorney) to the chaos that is learning the position. As soon as Jeff Petry can quiet the nerves and the noises, as soon as he can stop be a "saloon doors" chaos defender in the AHL, he’ll be in the NHL.
It could happen later this season.