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.

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. 

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).

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.

  • DonovanMD

    GarbageManBrian with a garbage post, well done sir.

    Lowetide: Anyone Petry really compares to or projects like? Even if he came in and played solid, potted 20 points, I’d be a pretty happy guy. He seems to have a good 40 point upside.

  • Lowetide

    Donovan: His Desjardins NHL equivalencies have always suggested he’s going to be a point producer. Now a lot of offense for defensemen comes from the powerplay, so if he doesn’t get those minutes with the Oilers then his boxcars won’t be as impressive.

    I do think that he’ll score 25+ points consistently in the NHL. If he becomes a mainstay on the PP, he could post 35+ in his best seasons imo.

    The thing about Petry is he has a nice range of skills. Size, footspeed, he can move the puck and make a pass, and the scouting report suggests there’s some grit in his game.

    So, as a comp I’d say he’ll be a little shy of Gilbert offensively but have more jam.

    • Horcsky

      If a defencemen is a little less offensively gifted than Tom Gilbert, but with more jam, then I’d say you have a number one d-man.

      Glencross scares me. When he’s playing well, he’s a banging agitator who can actually line up and check his man, unlike stortini. His hands are okay for a grinder too. However, he has many games where he takes awful penalties at the worst times. Ethan Moreau v2.0 comes to mind.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I remember you tooting Brule’s horn because he was “fiesty with a good shot” and you “knew what you are looking at out there”.

            So what’s your point?

  • Lowetide

    I cannot imagine a scenario where you send Omark down. IF he slumps then it may happen, but how in hell do you send him back now?

    What would the conversation sound like? “Linus, you’ve scored in the shootout and in the game, and you’re posting offense plus the PP looks good with you out there. Now we need you to go back to Oklahoma City and work harder on nothing at all.”

    Makes no sense. If you’re rebuilding, you WANT these players to force their way onto the roster. The Oilers have plenty of lesser players they can send away.

    Jacques comes to mind.

      • Lowetide

        Yeah, agreed. I think Cogliano may have a career but the Oilers have seen him for a few years now and the offense isn’t there. I do agree that if he’d had better linemates the numbers would come, but the Oilers were a poor team during his time here and it never happened.

        Suspect he’ll have success if he lands with a good team, though.

  • GSC

    Not sure point production from the backend should matter from this crew. What we need is a couple of good shut down d men. We seem to be able to put some goals up this year but do very little to stop the opponent from putting up more.

    • Lowetide

      Yeah, I think that’s why Plante will also get a push. Peckham’s quick adjustment may mean one of Petry/Plante spends 40+ games in the NHL this season, allowing the other one to make the team next fall.

      But I agree, the Oilers need a defense-first guy too.

  • m_kennedy13

    Morning LT, hopefully the coffee is good this morning for ya.

    Petry, Plante, Marincin, and Smid are names that I am going to be watching very closely for the next few years. Unless we draft another high end defender this year it’s important that one of those 4 turns into a top pairing kind of guy. Although the window is probably shut for Smid to develop into that, the homer in me feels he has another big step to take. Love the guy and am really blinded by it.

    Side note: I’ve tried posting here a few times lately, and I get re-directed to another page saying I was rejected and it’s possibly because I was trying to do something I don’t have permission to do. Any idea what’s going on?

    • Lowetide

      What I don’t know about the internet would scare you. I’ve done some wonky stuff here at ON too but don’t tell Wanye. 🙂

      As for your specific problem, I know sometimes things go a little askew when two people are trying to post at the exact same time but other than that I can’t help you.

      I worry about Smid on two fronts. One: health. He’s like the kid who can’t remember to keep his hands up when sparring in a boxing ring. I worry about him. Seriously.

      Second, he doesn’t seem to be developing with the puck. Smid has a nice smooth stride and can make people miss, but when he reaches the end boards it’s like he doesn’t know what to do next. I know this isn’t true–hell NHL hockey is so bloody fast it’s a wonder anyone gets things done.

      But I don’t get the feeling his offensive skills can marry themselves to things that we associate with scoring goals.

      We’re left with a guy who is big, strong and can mark his man well. He’s improved on the back door play and should have a long career on the third pairing. But I thought he’d be better than that and he’s been passed by Peckham already.

      I keep hoping the light turns on. He has some exceptional God given talent (skating, size).

  • As I posted on the Swedish Oil (here – on the same topic) yesterday, Ricky Olczyk made it to the OKC-game yesterday and told Ryan Aber: “Not sure if we’ll call up a defenseman but obviously that’s one of the reasons I’m down here.”

    ..which sounds a bit concerning if you ask me. Management can’t be completely satisfied with what we have in Strudwick now can they? Sure he posted a +3 last game but other then that..

    Personally I would’ve liked to see Plante. He shots right, he’s a big defensive guy, most similar to Vandermeer out of the group. But Plante haven’t been as good lately (and as you mention, Nelson made an example out of him yesterday when he got scratched), neither have Belle. Petiot have been praised by Nelson after his comeback but it ‘oughta be too soon for him. So if someone do infact get the call I wouldn’t be surprised to see Petry. Chorney scored yesterday though..

    Hopefully we’ll know more later today.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    LT, you sir make for a fine read sunday mornings. Do you see the oilers making a trade once Hemskey comes back to keep mark here, say brule or cogliano for a dman? Or do you think they just send someone else down like you said in regards to a prevoius post

    • Lowetide

      I’ve been calling for a trade since fall 2006. 🙂 I think Renney’s comments yesterday were interesting. IF they’re going to compete for a playoff spot, then the PK has to be addressed. Just has to.

      SO, if that’s the case then a trade in January is a must. And if you’re going to make a deal for a penalty killer, maybe it’s time to trade Cogliano to free up that 3rd line center spot.

      If they could flip Brule for a Glencross-type I’d be fine with that too. Brule’s in a tough spot now becaue the three kids are all wingers and Hemsky or Penner will take up the other slot plus there’s Omark and good grief this team has options at the skill positions.

      So, yeah I’d do it. But my guess is that Steve Tambellini stays the course and deals veterans at the deadline. Candidates include Dustin Penner, Gilbert Brule, Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Jones (a UFA), Stortini, Vandermeer (if healthy), Smid and Khabibulin.

      • DSG

        Totally agree… Cogs it the guy with the target on his back.

        You mentioned before that O’Marra might be a useful player to keep around. To make room for both Omark and O’Marra someone is going to be the odd man out.

      • Stone Hands McOsta


        You have Penner at the front of the trade candidates.

        Just a thought, he seems to me like the type of player that will one day take over a playoff series by himself, a la Byfuglien. It’s exciting to picture him doing it in Oiler threads. I guess you can’t hang on to guys on a hope, but he’s won a Cup, albeit as a rookie. Does that experience factor into ST’s decision-making at all?

  • m_kennedy13

    Smid’s concussions are scary, and at such a young age to have had so many makes the situation even more troublesome. So on the injury front I think everyone can agree Smid needs to keep his head from bouncing off the ice and boards.

    I think an honest projection now of his skills should have him as a second pairing guy. I just always like to remember back to that miserable trade how badly I wanted him to succeed to try an make that whole situation look better (enter Eberle).

    Remember back in 2006-07, when we dressed something like 12 difference defensemen that season, how well Smid seemed to be playing and at such a young age in a major role. That is the season I jumped on board the Smid wagon, and it’s truly led me nowhere.

    I don’t think Theo has gone by Smid yet, Theo had a nice stretch of play but seems to have fallen back a little bit again. Love the kid though, he’s a real nasty kind of mean.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Thanks LT, imo if i were ST id trade the likes of cogs, brule, and stortini, and Jacques for any draft pick or a stay at home dman; with vandermeer and strudwick off the books at seasons end(hopefully) the oilers will have the room on the backend for another vet dman, unless next season they go with 3 rookies on d. Trading jones or letting him walk would be foolish,glencross all over again, i like his work ethic a hell of alot more than stortini and jj combined.

  • Lowetide

    Peckham is now ahead of Smid in both even strength and PK time-on ice per game (they both trail Whitney and Gilbert in both categories). Coach Renney is using both in a top 4 role now and I don’t think it’ll change (Strudwick, Foster are the competition plus Vandermeer when gets back) for the remainder of the season.

    What a crazy year it’s been. Foster seems a little better lately, or is it just my eyes?

  • m_kennedy13

    Jones is not as good as Glencross, he just isn’t there yet.

    Glencross is having issues with the Flames by the way. Maybe we can sign him in the off season as he seems destined to test UFA again. I am curious how the situation is between him and our management.

  • m_kennedy13

    Either Foster is playing better LT or it’s both our eyes. The guys nothing to go crazy over yet but compared to how he started the season with us he’s improved for sure. His postioning is more sound, and his stick checks seem more effective then when he started the year. To be fair, he might of just tricked us by setting the bar so low to start the season.

    His bomb from the point might be more effective with Petry on the big team too. Make the other team respect two nice shots from the point on our powerplay and all of a sudden his goal totals would go up I am sure.

  • Lowetide

    RE #17 Glencross is having issues with the Flames by the way. Maybe we can sign him in the off season as he seems destined to test UFA again. I am curious how the situation is between him and our management.

    If the Oilers get Glencross back ( Im still choked about that) I will buy season tickets. My solemn vow.

  • DBO

    So if they do want to shore up the PK and make a run (as per Brownlee’s article), and your trade pieces are Cogs and Brule, who can we pick up? Do we make a move for a vet 2011 UFA who fills a spot this year or do we make a move with a team who has a glut of size and bottom 6ers for our “talented smurfs”?

    One team from the vet perspective is Florida. They are struggling, and have a bunch of UFA’s who fill our needs and desperately need some youth and skill. What about a Brule or Cogs with a prospect for Reasoner and Higgins? Reasoner immediately adds to our PK (top guy on Florida) and can win a faceoff. And Higgins is only 27, adds grit and speed and kills penalties. Not to mention he has scored more then 20 a few years ago. They aren’t anything special, are both UFA’s next year, but they make us a better more balanced team right away.

    And for a team that could send us a mid 20’s under contract team that wants to win right now how about Buffalo? They need some scoring, and have money issues. What about Paul Gaustad? He’s tough as nails, is killer on the dot and kills penalties. Maybe swing them both guys and Souray (they need a dman with offense) or even Foster. Gaustad would fit right in and he is under contract for one more year (just in time to re-sign Penner and hemsky and Gagner)

  • Lowetide

    To all the ‘trade Cogs’ dudes – If its last year, I’m with you. He wasn’t doing much of anything and was HUGELY resistant to changing to a defensive guy. Now he’s no amazing defensive demon this year but I do think he’s progressing since he’ embraced the role – and he HAS embraced it.

    I’m willing to wait for another year with him working on his defensive game like he is. He’s still young, obviously evolving and if you don’t like the heart he’s been showing as he consistently plows himself into guys 40lbs bigger than he is, then I dunno what to say.

    Brule is the guy who worked hard last year and got himself a nice contract and shot at some nice minutes and is now looking lazy out there. Thats the kind of attitude that the other guys can sense and the kind of attitude that the Oil have done a good job of removing in the last year.

  • Skidplate

    GlenX has been healthy scratched for 2 games now and none to happy about it. More evidence that the Sutterites have lost their minds. Brule or Cogs for an extended GlenX?

    If I’m brother Darrel I don’t do it, but they’re in the position where they might start making trades for the sake of change.

  • Bi-Curious Gord

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited about Petry’s progress. My only concern is his style of play. Isn’t Jeff more of an offensive D-man? Would a defensive player not serve the Oilers better? Would Petry address the fact that we give up about 50 shots per game? Also, does he have a physical element to his game?

    • During the preseason he showed good grit to his game, very cerebral. If the hit was there he took it but he didn’t make the hit if was going to be caught out of position. I’m a fan as he seems to be the type of dman that does a lot of things well but isn’t elite in any one category. Dmen like that are very useful in the NHL (Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Whitney, Dan Girardi, etc.)

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    what is the average age of the league now compared to years / eras past?

    it seems right now, bringing in young men is hardly a concern since the league seems to be in a whole different era of its own. there isnt many teams i can think of that has “MANLY VETS” that would completely annihilate this squad to any enormous degree.

    is anyone actually physically intimidated by the anyone in the top 20 in scoring? maybe Ryan Getzlaf a little bit. Corey Perry is just more annoying. Dustin Byfuglien, sure. Eric Staal should be, but hes not. Ovechkin to a degree but it seems hes let up a bit on the big hits he use to lay out on D-men. yeah, im just not seeing it. so is there any reason to really be “Scared” with this much youth? maybe for a skill/execution level but for intimidation of people in the past like Forsberg, Messier, Lindros, Jagr (not physical but dominates due to size), Leclair, Hull, Tkachuk….

  • Skidplate

    Skid plate,
    That’s why I said an extended GlenX. GlenX in July may be more $$ than an extension now.

    While they’r still young and may eventually ge it, the current Cogs or Brule make the Flames smaller, softer, and make them leak more goals against. I haven’t paid much attention to GlenX this year, but last year’s GlenX is a useful piece for this year’s Oilers if they are serious about making a run for the 2nd season.

    It’s likely a moot point as the Staios trade was likely the last Flames / Oilers trade for another decade.

    For the record, I think the playoffs are a pipe dream with the current roster (especially the D).

  • Lowetide

    For the record, I’d keep both Penner and Hemsky. But I think the Oilers will have to choose between them for cap reasons and reading between the lines Hemsky seems like the better bet.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      FYI: Petry has a backer in the dressing room in Ryan Whitney. He thinks a lot of the kid and especially likes his range of skills.

      If Whitney gets a vote, it’ll be Petry getting a look sooner than later.

          • Lowetide

            I’ve always argued that KP was a little better than average at the draft table. Although his misses were usually at the top of the draft–and that’s what killed him as the director of scouting imo–the club had a very nice run of depth picks through the years.

            Petry might end up being one of his finest choices.

          • Might this indicate that the scouting staff as a whole is pretty strong at finding area picks and players that their head scout doesn’t do much more than generally approve of? I mean, generally, the later you get into the draft, the more you have to trust fewer and fewer scouts. Perhaps it is telling that Prendergast’s regime had more success the further away from his influence they got?

            I think Prendergast’s problem was probably that he never saw the negative side of things. Of course Niinimaki’s upside carry him out of oblivion! Of course Pouliot would figure out how to use his tools to be an effective top six hockey player! Of course Schremp would translate his dominant offensive junior game to the NHL! And of course prospects could develop in a split affiliate. He never seemed to think that the things that could go wrong would, and when they did, he was unprepared. That kind of thinking probably isn’t bad in later rounds, when you need everything to break right for these kids to become NHL players anyway, but when you’re drafting in the first round? Deadly.

            I think the mark of MacGregor’s era is that the depth scouting is on track to be as good or better (not all the kids are going to turn out, but enough of them are tracking well that there’s likely going to be at least as many good players and possibly more in later rounds as in the past), but the real massive improvement is that they’ve correctly identified the player that’s an absolute God-given gift for them to draft at that position. Both Eberle and Paajarvi would likely go higher if there was a re-draft of their respective years than they did, and right now, it seems they made the right decision between Hall and Seguin. That might be three years in a row where they legitimately drafted the BPA, which is stunning (there may be a few late round stars that emerge, but if they were drafted in the fourth round, the question should be why the Oilers didn’t draft the player in the third, rather than the first).

            But if they found their Duncan Keith in Martin Marincin, they just might collectively be geniuses.

    • PerryK

      For the record, I can see that is the way that this management thinks.

      Doesn’t make it right! Look at Chicago, they lost a lot but still managed to keep key players like Kane, Toews, Keith, Seabrooke and Hossa! Even when saddled with an immovable expensive contract like Campbell’s.

      In my opinion, if we want a serious shot at the Cup, we need both Penner and Hemsky.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    I really think GlenX has a problematic sense of entitlement. It was a problem here after half a season. It’s now becoming a problem in Calgary.

    He’s expected to be a bottom 6 guy (and he’s an excellent one at that) but wants to be/play like a top 6 forward. I don’t think he “takes those shifts off”, rather he’s playing with a top 6 forward (cerebral) entitlement.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Would anybody else trade Brule to the Wild for Clutterbuck?

    then the lines might look like this


    Stortini,MacIntyre, and JJ fill in as needed

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Ahhh, good ol’ hindsight. Handing GlenX $1.5 million per after 20 good games would have been very risky. It’s so easy to look back and say mgmt shoulda done this or shouldn’ta done that.

    Now, where did I put that time machine???

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I’m still confused why we signed Colin Fraser to a 2 year deal at 850 per when we could have had Potulny back on a 1 year for 500 per?

    I at least noticed Potulny out there and the guy produced at a decent clip. Fraser has a good background but I’ve yet to see any of it happen with us.

    I know Potulny is not playin right now but I still don’t see how Fraser is worth more and worth 2 years versus what we could have gotten out of Potulny on a 1 year.