Another Rookie?

This is Wally Pipp. Legend has it that (while the Yankees starting first baseman) he asked out of a ballgame due to a headache. Although there is evidence that the real story had more to do with a batting slump, the headache story sounds better so most go with it.

Replacing Pipp in the Yankee lineup on June 2, 1925? Some college kid named Lou Gehrig, who would go on to play 2,130 consecutive games at the position. Soon Pipp was off to the National League and Cincinnati, where the story goes he never asked for a day off again.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

This is Jeff Petry. He might be the next rookie to impact the city of Edmonton in what is quickly becoming the season of the unshaven. Although his ETA was supposed to be 2011 fall, the college kid (college kid!!)  is a quick study and at this point is starting to do things normal humans cannot at the minor league level. An example is here.

I’m of the belief that major league organizations should elevate players the moment they’ve proven they can impact the game at a lower level. There is no level between AHL and NHL, and the latest numbers suggest Petry is ready:

  • 31gp, 7-13-20 has him 5th in team scoring.
  • 3-3-6 +4 in 8 December games
  • tied for 8th in points among all AHL defensemen
  • tied for 7th in points among all AHL rookies
  • His coach (Todd Nelson): “He’s playing with more confidence. He has the skill set. We all knew that he has the skill set. You can see the way he skates. He just explodes. He’s got a great shot. He moves the puck like a pro. And he’s just playing with more confidence.”  The full story is here.


Jim Vandermeer was playing his best hockey of the season when struck by injury. In his last 8 games before the ankle injury, the big veteran posted 1-2-3 +8 numbers. That’s a strong linescore in any league. Vandermeer has had ankle problems before and although I’m having a little fun here with Vandermeer/Pipp comparisons it should be mentioned that at this point in his career injuries are a huge item for this player. In 06-07 he missed the final 33 games of the year with a broken right ankle, and he broke the left one in 2008-09. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

This is no laughing matter.

Jim Vandermeer–like a lot of Oiler blue–had a tough start to the season but he’d really turned it around in the last while. All joking aside, one hopes he returns to the NHL quickly.

There are 4 candidates for callup (the Oilers may make the call today). Shawn Belle has already played for the Oilers this season and would seem the most likely candidate. Jeff Petry is coming on strong and the organization may want to reward him for his efforts.

Alex Plante is a similar player in style to Vandermeer, although his HS for OKC last night is probably a tell in terms of how the organization feels about him at this time. Also, Taylor Chorney is kicking about in the AHL and has in fact had a nice season with the Barons. From this group, he boasts the most NHL experience.

I’m not including Richard Petiot on the list, as he has just returned from injury (he’s played the last 2 games for Oklahoma City).

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Coach Nelson: "They’ve all been playing well. It depends on what they’re looking for if they want to call someone up at all.”

Spoken like a man who wants to keep his defense intact. We’ll find out in the next few hours if the Oilers are going to make a move. The club might run with Strudwick through the next couple of games and make a decision after Christmas.

The news we got about Vandermeer about  December 14 was that this was a two week injury (meaning he’d be ready around the end of December) so they may choose to stay the course.

If they do call up Belle it might be the last time Petry watches another Baron defender punch his ticket. When Jeff Petry arrives at the International Airport from Oklahoma City, I suspect he’ll be staying for years. The Edmonton Oilers "season of the rookie" rolls on.