JEFF PETRY: WORTH THE WAIT

Patience, the saying goes, is a virtue in the development of NHL defensemen. Rush, and you can ruin them. We’ve seen it happen. Resist the rush, ease them along the learning curve and, if the kid has the game and the gumption, you get rewarded. What you get, if you’re lucky, is Jeff Petry.

It’s been six years since the Edmonton Oilers selected Petry 45th overall in the 2006 Entry Draft as a string bean blueliner from the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL, so it’s not like he’s been fast-tracked. Petry spent three years at Michigan State University after draft day. He’s had stints in the minor leagues with Springfield and Oklahoma City.

Anybody who has watched how Petry, now 25, performed at the end of the 2011-12 season, and just as notably in logging more than 22 minutes of ice time in Edmonton’s 2012-13 season-opener against the Vancouver Canucks Sunday, can see it’s been time well spent.

Petry, with the benefit of time to develop, grow into his game and learn the ropes in the NHL, is only now entering prime time on a team that’s come up woefully wanting when it comes to developing defensemen from within the organization. He’s arriving right on time.

How good might Petry become?

COMING ON

Petry, a rakish six-foot-three and about 200 pounds, still has room to grow physically and in terms of his game, but the player we saw at the end of last season and Sunday against the Canucks paired with Ladislav Smid is already becoming a bigger factor than many thought him capable of when we first got a glimpse of him in Edmonton silks during the 2010-11 season.

Petry, who scored 2-23-25 in 73 games and averaged 21:46 in ice time last season, definitely has an offensive component to his game, but producing points probably isn’t going to be his calling card. The ability to cover a lot of ice and bang a little – maybe a lot if he fills out some more – and face the best forwards the opposition has is going to be his ticket. Already is.

Paired with Smid, the native of Ann Arbor, Michigan is morphing into that shutdown defenseman every team covets and needs. Better still, Petry can take care of his own end and moves the puck well enough to turn it back the other way in transition behind the likes of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ales Hemsky.

You can count the number of defensemen the Oilers have has with as many components to their game on one hand in the last decade – and on a finger or two if you’re talking about blueliners they’ve drafted and developed.

A year or two from now, might Petry be as important to the resurgence of the Oilers as all those blue chip first-rounders up front? Might his journey along the learning curve intersect perfectly with Edmonton’s return to contention?

We’re watching it unfold now.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • match16

    I don’t get it, why are we talking about point production? Smid-Petry are our 1st line pairing because they can shut down the opponents top lines. Petry can move the puck out of the zone and make a good first pass. The points will come as the Oilers improve.

    One thing I would like to see an improvement on is his point shot. He needs some pointers from J. Schultz on how to get the puck through to the net. Everytime he has the puck at the point he blasts it straight into the defender’s shin pads.

    • The Goalie 1976

      I think we are actually in agreement without knowing it. The only true critisism of Petry on this thread is his inability to score goals, even-strenght or PP. His point shot you illustrated is likely the cause.

      If he could score 6-9 goals a year on the same 111 shots he took, I think everyone would have zero complaints.

      Truth is, Petry is very very good at everything BUT scoring goals in the NHL.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Oops, forgot to note that the Sam Gagner rant above wasn’t supposed to be directed at The Goalie 1976. ‘Twas just a general observation.

    • The Goalie 1976

      Fair enough. I agree that cherry picking stats to define a player is dumb also.

      I always hated the Gagner haters that only look at the negetives. There is more to him than size and faceoff wins. And Petry is more than a defensemen that can only get assists.

      Neither is Crosby or Weber, but they both are pretty darn good players, that play important roles.

  • JitanPren

    @ large

    Can’t beleive you all get sucked into that black hole every time!!!

    There were a lot of good points re: #2 tho

    I guess the best defence is a good offence
    as in “offensive”.

    We still wacked the girls in their own building on opening night. With our little centre getting an assist on the tying goal and a goal in the shoot-out.

    There’s trolls and sometimes they hide under the bridge.

    • JitanPren

      Sam would have his lunch handed to him if this team somehow made the playoffs this year….. I’ve been a season ticket holder and fan of the Oilers since the WHA days.

      No troll here – lets try to have a little balance to our discussion

  • JitanPren

    And here I was thinking that a defenseman’s priority was defense. I don’t think scoring will be a problem with the future oilers team and Petry is good at moving the puck up to forward who can then get to work on the offense. He looks like he’s going to progress even more and his recent defensive work has been fantastic. He also looks like a guy that can eat minutes if he has too as I think he lead the team in TOI last year. Defense was and still is the biggest concern of this team and people are worried that about a stud Defensemen that he won’t get more than 30 points?