Jeff Petry’s independent scouting reports never matched the over the top verbal coming from the Oilers. That disconnect caused some of us (well, me) to miss the boat in regard to the long, tall Michigander. It’s time to call uncle, because this kid would appear to have the toolkit, the brain and the desire.

Over the years I’ve monitored Oiler prospects over at Lowetide. The general idea is to take independent scouting reports, marry them to math (Desjardins equivalencies) and then track these prospects against players who have come before a specific prospect. I always look for a player of a similar age and one who has played at the same level at that age.

In regard to Petry, we never did get a very good outside scouting report. Maybe that was the key. The best scouting report I saw was from Guy Flaming at Coming Down the Pipe:

  • "Petry is a smart two-way defenseman who is an excellent skater with good mobility, which he uses to shut down opponents. The 6’2.5, 176-pound Petry plays with an edge and can lay out some good hits. He also doesn’t mind battling in front of the net. Offensively, Petry has a cannon for a point shot, but often uses a wrist shot as well so that it does not get blocked and does not allow the goaltender to set up. Petry also uses his skating and stick skills to make accurate passes out of the zone or to skate the puck up himself, which he has the speed and stickhandling to do."

Petry quickly became Flaming’s #1 prospect (article here) but I kept reading items about skating and consistency. His college coach Rick Gormley:

  •  "I thought that on some nights he was our best player and other nights, he played more like a freshman."

Added to his skating, I felt there were better prospects in the system. I want to be clear about this: I wasn’t dumping on Petry, he was in around #7 on most of my winter lists after his draft day:

The 2010 ranking has more to do with the enormous 2010 entry draft than anything Petry did wrong. Anyway, as you can see I never did rank Petry at the top (as Flaming did all down the line).

Why? Well, I’ve kind of answered it above but want to go into a little more detail. There were three main reasons:

  • He was old for a prospect by the time he turned pro. Petry turned 23 years old after game 26 of his first full AHL season. Petry is the same age as Theo Peckham, he’s 6 months younger than Andrew Cogliano. Jeff Petry is 20 months older than Sam Gagner. Ladislav Smid is about 2 years older than Jeff Petry and is currently in his 5th NHL season.
  • The skating issues and the college coach. I think the Oilers have had a strong enough group through these years that two negatives would imo disqualify anyone from the top spot.
  • The source of the positive verbal–and I mean no disrespect to Guy Flaming or anyone associated with the Edmonton Oilers–was usually Kevin Prendergast. Now, I’ve written a bunch about Kevin Prendergast over the years and I do think his draft record is much better than he’s been given credit for by fans and critics. However, KP loved all of his picks and they were all splendid and going to the HHOF one day. He was not a credible source for Oiler prospects, and I suspect much of what Guy was telling us came from KP or another Oiler scout. That’s why I try to acquire outside sources.

Having said all of that, uncle. The young man looks calm, cool and collected. He’s talented, can skate very well and has the look of a guy who will help his team win for years to come.

Good for him.

  • forestscooter

    This is getting exciting. Finish last and draft Larsson. We have Whitney, Larsson, Gilbert, Peckam, Petry, a few veterans and prospects. Sounds like a defense. Add our second round picks and we have a team.. please develop these players properly !! NHL and otherwise.

  • I made an effort to watch Jeff Petry a few times on Big10 (a channel most people aren’t even aware we get, which shows College hockey on occasion) because I had heard some good things about him. And well, having only seen 3 games of him in College isn’t much of a case for knowing what kind of player he is, but I think you can tell that he’s a guy that plays with a LOT of poise (you even see it in his NHL game currently).

    He struggled at the time with positioning though. Or what I should say is, at the College level, he roamed all over the defensive zone which I’m not so sure would work at the NHL level. That’s not to say he wouldn’t learn how to change how he plays D though.

    On the positive side, I noticed him jumping up as a 4th forward with a lot of frequency. Quite frankly, in a lot of cases he was LEADING the rush, not joining it. He was quite physical with players in the crease area and threw some nice hits in various areas of ice. He also was a strong powerplay quarterback, as well as a shutdown specialist.

    He’s one of the players who’s been near the top of my list of top prospects in our system for about a year now. Living in the shadows of Gagner, Paajarvi, Hall, Eberle, etc. has allowed him to be a big surprise for us fans.

  • Don’t beat yourself up Lowetide. Petry came out of nowhere; who could have possibly predicted that a big, mobile, intelligent, crisp-passing defenseman with a big shot in an organization that’s paper thin on defence could possibly make it to the NHL?

    Sorry if I’m rubbing it in. But other than a poor year (which almost every player has gone through at some point), was there ever really a chink in Petry’s armor? His resume simply screamed “on track” all the way through.

  • Thailand Oilfan

    Nice article Lowtide, long time listener first time caller, my question is was the Petry pick in 2006 the compensation pick we received for not signing Niinimaki?

    I also think I remember one of the Oiler brass, can’t remember which one but more than likely KP, saying that even if they had a first round pick that year they would have taken Petry with it, I think the pick they traded away for Roloson turned out to be around 16-17, so the Oilers were pretty high on him right from the start if they would have taken him that high.