The Oilers re-assigned Jeff Petry to OKC today, not because he was playing bad, but because it is better for his development. For those stating Theo Peckham has been worse, you’re looking at a very small sample size. Last year Peckham was solid, while Petry struggled, and now you want to run Peckham out of town because of a bad start, lose him to waivers, to keep Petry?
If you are that guy, I’d love to be in a fantasy hockey league with you.
Peckham has struggled at times, and I like that Renney sat him for two games (dressing as a forward and playing three minutes is like a 2nd game in pressbox), to send him a message he needs to be better. You don’t give up on Peckham, put him on waivers and send him to the minors based on an average start to the season.
Cam Barker has been average at best and Petry has shown he has more potential, but if the choice is Barker or Petry as the #7, I’ll take Barker. Petry needs to play every game. He doesn’t need to sit four out of ten games, he needs to play.
Petry has played 55 AHL games and 38 NHL games thus far. Playing 25 minutes a night in the AHL for another 40 games won’t stunt his development. Right now, he is the best blueline prospect in the system capable of helping in the near future. Colten Teubert, David Musil, Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom or Martin Gernat might be better down the road, but the Oilers need some help well before they mature.
They want Petry to play in every situation; PK, PP and EV, but he won’t get that opportunity with the Oilers right now. Corey Potter, a veteran of five AHL seasons, is more poised and he’s grabbed the PP minutes that Petry might have been given. No player should be gift-wrapped icetime or opportunity, they need to earn it.
With Ryan Whitney returning Petry’s overall minutes would have decreased, and with Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid finally showing signs of being consistent, there isn’t any openings in the top-four.
Petry will go to OKC and get lots of icetime, because he’ll be the most skilled defender they have. He will play in the last minute of a period, on the first unit PP and against the top lines in the AHL. He’ll build some confidence and hopefully understand all the nuances of his position. They sent him to OKC with the hopes that when he returns he is a more complete defender.
Many defenceman have spent some time in the AHL before becoming a top-four, or better, D-man. Duncan Keith spent two years in the AHL. Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff played a year and a half in the minors before being regular NHLers, and the list goes on. Ryan Suter spent a full season in the AHL. Sure some guys like Drew Doughty play right away, but they are the exception to the rule.
Petry’s demotion is not a step back, I’d argue it is finally a step in the right direction for the Oilers and how they develop players.
I understand that fans are sick of being patient, and you want to see guys like Petry play here everynight over a journeyman like Barker, but that mindset won’t make make the Oilers competitive longterm.
There is no guarantee that Petry will develop into a solid top-four defender, but I feel sending him to OKC today gives him a better chance than playing 16 minutes every second or third game in the NHL.
- Sam Gagner passed Renney’s final "drop off" test today and he’ll be a game time decision tomorrow. I asked Renney where he plans on playing Gagner when he returns, "Sam is a centreman, but he’s played the wing. We have a few options. Lander can play the wing and so can Horc if need be. I won’t seriously look at it until I know for sure that Sam will play." That last comment makes me think we’ll see Gagner on Saturday, but he might dress tomorrow.
- I was surprised to see rookie fourth-liner, Lennart Petrell, not on the ice for the optional skate. Normally rookies, especially 4th liners, are out there. Lander, Eager, Gagner, Paajarvi, Peckham, Petry, Whitney, Dubnyk and Khabibulin were the nine guys who took part. Unless Petrell was feeling ill, that was a bad move on his part.
- Interesting to see Paajarvi out there. I think that’s a combination of him loving to practice, but also wanting to show the coach he is determined to get better. Paajarvi hasn’t played bad, but Renney said, "He needs to battle more consistently." Renney also added he loves many parts of Paajarvi’s game and hasn’t be disappointed with him at all, and in fact he feels he is on the edge of breaking out.
- I think people need to have more realistic expectations of Paajarvi. Keep in mind he was a 10th pick, not a top-five overall. History shows there is a significant difference between 1st and 10th picks. If he becomes a 20-25 goal man, who kills penalties he’d be pretty valuable. Since the lockout the amount of 20-goal scorers is slowly getting smaller. Here’s the list amount of 20-goal scorers from 2006-2011: 126, 120, 102, 120, 110, 106 for an average of 114 a year. That works out to just under four 20-goal scorers per team.
If you assume Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will be 20-goal men, that leaves Paajarvi, Gagner, RNH, Smyth and possibly Hemsky or Horcoff. If Paajarvi becomes a consistent 20-25 goal man, he’d be considered an excellent 10th overall pick and a meaningful cog for the Oilers.
The 10th overall picks from 1994-2008 (previous 15 years to Paajarvi) were: Nolan Baumgartner (1994), Radek Dvorak, Lance Ward, Brad Ference, Nik Antropov, Branislav Mezei, Mikhail Yakubov, Dan Blackburn, Eric Nystrom, Andrei Kostitsyn, Boris Valabik, Luc Bourdon, Michael Frolik, Keaton Ellerby and Cody Hodgson (2008). 15 goals in his rookie season was not a bad start, but you shouldn’t expect him to be in the same category as Hall or Nugent-Hopkins; because it is unlikely.