Don’t Do It, Jeff

Jeff Petry would be a fool to re-sign with the Edmonton Oilers.

I understand that sounds harsh and I know full well that the Oil really need him, but it doesn’t make it any less true. There is absolutely no reason that Jeff Petry should play for this team next year. But let’s take a look at the journey that took us here.

The Long And Winding Road

Before the Draft in 2006 Jeff Petry was thought of as a potential sleeper pick out of the USHL. The NHL Central Scouting Service ranked him 36th for North American skaters. He was two spots ahead of some kid named Claude Giroux. Now, you might recall being focused on something other than the Draft that Spring so I don’t expect you remember caring one way or the other whose name was picked 45th in June. A few days after that a certain Oiler defenseman would demand a trade out of town and the focus would shift sharply to him and the bounty the club received.

Jeff Petry was allowed to fly under the radar. He was a notable prospect at the time of his draft and continued to progress but he came into the organization at a very eventful time and was never under the spotlight that recent 2nd round picks have had. There has been considerably more pressure and expectation heaped upon Lander and Pitlick than there was on a young Jeff Petry. Part of that was because he was left to develop in the USHL and the US College Hockey system, away from constant attention.

In his 2nd and final USHL season he won Defenseman of the Year honours with Des Moines before moving on to the Michigan State Spartans. He stayed with the Spartans for 3 seasons and in that time he made it to an All-Rookie team and was an All-Star during his final year. He had played 4 seasons post-Draft before he turned pro. It definitely feels like a long time in the wake of the Oilers pressuring Khaira and Pitlick out of the US College system and into the WHL and eventually the AHL rather quickly.

In 2010-2011, the same year that Hall made his debut, Jeff Petry joined the OKC Barons and would only spend half the season there. He joined the Oilers right after Christmas that season and has been an NHLer ever since aside from joining the Barons in the Playoffs that 1st year.

Reception In The NHL

soft

As with a lot of Rookie defenders there are mistakes. The learning curve in the NHL is steep and he became an Oiler right when this team was transitioning into being one of the worst clubs in the entire league. There were plenty of errors. That said, early on there was a lot of good buzz for Petry. He had NHL size and a brain in his head that could process the game fairly well. 

I will now fully admit that after his rookie season I was as frustrated with the progress he would make over the next few year as a lot of onlookers. He struggled with his physicality very much. At 6’3″ and NHL weight he had the body-type to be physical but would go long stretches where he wasn’t getting involved in the game that way. He was getting a reputation for being soft. Offensively, he never produced more than in his 1st full season (2-23-25). Overall it was obvious that Petry was an NHL player but he wasn’t yet ready, in my opinion, for the role that he had to assume on the Oilers.

Even last year, in my assessment (for whatever that’s worth) Jeff Petry was at best a number 4 who was playing well over his head. That shouldn’t really have been a knock on Petry. It isn’t his fault that the franchise jettisoned every good defenseman they ever had under the watchful eyes of Lowe and Tambellini. The list of Oiler blueliners from 2010-Present Day is a sad and pathetic list that reeks now of regret and desperation. There are exactly 2 decent NHL players among them. One is Tom Gilbert, the other is Jeff Petry. Everyone else was on the last legs of their NHL career or they were just starting out.

Overlooked

As much as his deficiencies were publicly noted, his accomplishments were overlooked. Maybe that’s because the metrics that he seems to excel in are new and the loudest proponents of them were prickly. I don’t really know. The established voices in Edmonton Hockey media have openly mocked metrics like Corsi and Fenwick so when one says “Jeff Petry is Edmonton’s best possession defender” it rolls off them like water on a duck’s back. 

Whatever the reason might be or might have been, Petry hasn’t gotten much love from the fans, the media, or the organization. He became an RFA at the same time as Justin Schultz and negotiated a new 1 year deal just like Justin Schultz. But the Devil is in the details.

Schultz was gifted a 3.675M dollar contract that mirrored what he was making after his ELC ended (remembering that he signed a massive rookie deal full of bonuses). This despite the fact that Justin Schultz had regressed significantly from his rookie campaign. When Craig MacTavish spoke about Jultz he spoke about a future Norris Trophy winner who needed to establish himself. The contract would take the more offensively minded Schultz into another RFA season. Edmonton could have hammered him because he was under club control but they didn’t go that route.

Petry’s deal was for less than Jultz, a modest 3.075M deal. That deal would take him to unrestricted status. The team was reportedly willing to do a longer deal, but that one year figure tells you what level they thought he was at. MacTavish referred to Petry as “a high level asset” at the time. Not the team’s best defenseman. Certainly not a future Norris winner. Just a good asset.

Fly, You Fools!

fly

Jeff Petry is set to become an Unrestricted Free Agent at a great time in his career. He has developed as slow and ploddingly as one expects from a defenseman and now he’s finally realizing his potential. He is the Oilers’ best blueliner and he has been for a couple years now. We no longer hear a lot of complaints about his physical play either. He has mastered the art of taking a hit to make a play and can skate the puck out of danger with relative ease.

There is absolutely no reason for him to sign a sweetheart deal with Edmonton and denying himself the opportunity to hit the open market is nothing short of insane. Petry will be one of the youngest D-men on the market on July 1st and the more attractive ones always tend to be extended before we ever get to Canada Day. The facts are plain, Petry will probably make a lot of money on this next contract in either annual salary or with the length of the deal.

If that’s the case, that he’s getting paid no matter where he goes, then what are the draws to staying in Edmonton? The media spotlight has never really portrayed him in a positive light. The management has been luke-warm to committing to him. He had to claw for every penny he’s earned under club control while others on the team are just handed piles of cash freely and praised as the “Next Ones”. He’s had three coaches in five years and the team is about ready to look for number four. And maybe most importantly, this team is a loser. They’ve lost so many games and there’s no end in sight.

Other than sentimentality or Stockholm Syndrome there’s no reason why Jeff Petry should sign a new contract with the Oilers. I cheer for this team and it would be fantastic if he did, but if Jeff Petry was my son or my friend, I would tell him to hit the open market.

The ability to become an Unrestricted Free Agent while at the top of your game is rare even in this day and age of the NHL. If after he hits the open market he still wants to be an Oiler then bless his broken soul, but he should steer clear of any contract that MacTavish wants to put in front of him. 

If the Oilers don’t like that bit of advice, they only have themselves to blame. It’s their poor talent evaluation that’s at fault here.

  • Nuge&Connorvs.Sam&Sean

    People have to understand that the problems in Edmonton begin and end with the number 4.
    4 as in the number worn by a former player and a current one.

    Face it guys, the core is rotten and is the main problem. Not to mention the GM, who is completely asinine and can’t see past his nose.

    Sad to say, but we are staring at infinibuild.

  • sportsjunkie007

    Damn you Matt, I’m sick of your fact based opinions. If you’re going to be reviewing the Oilers there are only two options: 1. talk about potential and tell us how amazing everybody on the team is going to be (at some distant, unknown time). 2. rip on everybody involved in any way with the Oilers, telling us how everybody needs to go even if you don’t have a plan to replace them with anyone else.

    Get with the program.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      BUTT-KISSING MEDIA FINALLY WAKES UP

      For a long time in this city hockey “journalists” were a bunch of fan boys. Nobody was willing to ask hard questions about the team. Then people started asking questions: Mackinnon, Spector, Tychkowski, Brownlee, and Gregor on this site. More and more people are realizing that the Emperor really is naked. Lowe and MacTavish are arrogant jackasses. Eakins is incompetent.

      To point this out is not to “rip on everybody”. It is to point out facts. The Oilers are, objectively, over the last five years, the worst Canadian team, and one of the worst of all time in the NHL. And the team has been enabled by passive and fawning media coverage.

      I have a plan. Fire Eakins Lowe and MacTavish IMMEDIATELY. Let Craig Ramsey coach the team for the rest of the year. Have Nicholoson act as interim GM, declare a moratorium on transactions. Have a REAL search for a new coach and GM. Don’t hire a coach because somebody develops a man-crush on someone else during a 45 minute interview. Take time and do it right.

      The team is in true state of crisis, so is the franchise. Does somebody have a better idea?

  • Alsker

    Another reason that Lowe and Mac T have to be forced, by fans, to resign.

    I agree completely, Edmonton messed up the development of another player and the organization and city will pay the price as the laughing stock of the NHL.

    Only when Lowe and Mac T leave and we have an organization change will the culture of losing end.

  • Alsker

    “…Michigan State Spartans. He stayed with the Spartans for 3 seasons…”

    I bet the Red Wings get him for a relative discount too; a little extra salt in our wound.

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    A well-written, sad, and very true article.

    Thank-you for telling it like it is. Even if you broke my heart, you monster.

    I love Petry. Like a son.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    He did give the Oilers 7 yrs to build something he would want to stay and be a part of.

    This is what happens to really shippy losing organizations. Best of luck Jeff on your new fresh start on a team the values winning.

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    You make it sound like good players have to be *sentenced* to play in Edmonton, although I guess that’s what the draft is…

    Bad teams aren’t rewarded with high draft picks. High draft pics are punished with selection by bad teams.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I thought after 8 years of dismal hockey here in Edmonton , that I was losing interest in the players and the game itself . I still cheer and pull for the players , but my interest in supporting the managerial and coaching ranks has really curtailed my interest in supporting club because of such a less than competent group putting this club together . Why Katz has not sent most of them packing is befuddling . My interest will grow again when Katz cleans house of most of the ones that have kept us with such poor results over last two to several years , as they need to be replaced A.S.A.P.. Change might do us good and at worst be right back in cellar position , but at least someone new to gripe about .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    What”s real sickening is MacT. had the pieces put in place from Tams to succeed going into second phase . Yet he has surrounded them with players that have made them even worse as a team . Who’s going to clean up the mess that he has left us with ?

  • Serious Gord

    I like Petry and always have. I have never understood the hatred for him.

    Regardless…….Jeff please run. Run from this team and don’t look back. Get as far away from this abortion as you can and cash a big paycheque somewhere else
    This is just another example of poor asset management by this Mickey Mouse organization.

    p.s. My apologies to Mickey Mouse for Linking you to these comments

  • Deported to Ottawa

    A very well written piece that accurately reflects the current situation.

    It’s heartbreaking to see how the Oilers have been destroyed. What player would ever want to play for this organization? The only players the team has a chance with are those drafted by the Oilers, those on the downside of their career or those that simply come because the Oilers offered more money and they care more for the money than playing for a legitimate franchise.

    He will be in demand and really, what could possibly motivate him to stay with Edmonton?

    The franchise is in such a deep hole it wouldn’t surprise me to see their first round pick refuse to play in Edmonton.

    My how times have changed.

  • Congo Powerarm

    Would have absolutely no issues with Jeff leaving BECAUSE it’s in the best interest of both the player and his career to find opportunities with a better NHL team. having said that, I would hate to see him go, the team needs what he has – I’d argue that he is absolutely an NHL defenseman on a team that is lacking at that position.

    Players are often lambasted for leaving the team that drafted and developed them through free agency i.e. they’re not showing loyalty etc. Wouldn’t be the case if he left, more; how could you blame the guy?

    • Kevwan

      I have to agree with you, but also ask:

      Based on this, shouldn’t we all also be telling Hall, RNH, Yak, etc. to run from this organization as quickly as they’re able to get out?

      I think they should be–as someone else noted above. The only players this team is getting are the poor kids they draft, over-the-hill vets, and guys who just want lots of money. And guess what–lots-of-money guys aren’t going to be willing to try hard enough to turn this team around. They get their $ anyways, and given how far this team is from mediocre, getting THERE would even be immense work.

      No, if Hall, RNH, etc. stay, they are resigning themselves to a wasted career. They’ll end their contracts having played for a miserable loser team the whole time, never having seen the playoffs, and having learned to be very comfortable with losing and being laughed at.

      Some (not many, but some) of our guys deserve better than that. Get out of town while you can boys. Maybe that’s the only thing that will wake up mgmt–seeing your stars publicly ask you to trade them

      • bradleypi

        Lol. A little overboard no? I don’t see the playoffs for the oil in the next couple years, but these guys are only 21, 22…. IF they decide to stay long term with the oil, I’m sure the playoffs would be in the cards at some point… klowe, mact and Eakins won’t be here forever….

        • Zarny

          I get what you’re saying, truly I do. But I think our downfall has been (for several years now) that “they’re young”, “we just need time for them to development”, or other instances of saying we just need to hold on until _____ comes into his own.

          At this point, I dont think we can reasonably hold to that argument. We’re hurting the current core players by subjecting them to years of losing and no leadership their first 1-4 years in the league, and then expecting them to magically morph into the leadership who can lead the team to wins when the next young star-group is 1-4 years into THEIR careers.

          More likely, our current core will have no idea how to lead a team to win (because they’ve not been able to even be a mediocre team for years), and we’ll just continue the cycle, saying goodbye to Hall, RNH, et al when their contracts are up–if they’re here that long

          • Oiler fan in Dallas

            Scene from MacT’s office:

            Hall- ” Hey Mac, you got a minute”

            MacT – ” ya sure, come on in Taylor”

            Hall- I am here to tell you Nuge and I, are asking for a trade.

            MacT – The both of you combined, have less points than Tyler Seguin.. Now get out there and score some goals.

          • Oiler fan in Dallas

            Hall – You give me a Benn and a Spezza. And while we are talking how about a Trevor Daly and a Alex Goligoski on the back end and….ah never mind

  • BLAKPOO

    Sentimental garbage. If we signed him at 5M/yr for even 3 years, you’d all be on here next year crowing about stupid plays by buttersoft Petry, his unmovable contract, and how dumb MacT was to sign him.

    Just because he’s better than Schultz doesn’t mean he’s good. Who wants to play with a 6’3″ “kitty cat” that will stand 7 feet away and watch you get bullied by 3 other players?

    Petry’s an error-prone wimp. Make him someone else’s problem.

    • Lumley

      I guess I’m not the only one. Good for you sir for not following the popular opinion. Petry ain’t that great a Dman. Any other team in the league he’s 6/7/8

  • BLAKPOO

    “Jeff Petry would be a fool to re-sign with the Edmonton Oilers.”

    Off course. So was Pouliot, Nikitin, etc
    Jeff should go to Montreal and will play every season into May & contend for the Cup yearly. That’s logical. Not staying in the frozen tundra of Deadmonton. Dah.

    • Kevwan

      Losing your best D man to free agency because your GM has zero ability evaluating talent is a great way to begin your year 1 of a rebuild. Sounds like you may have another 9 years to go.

    • Hemmercules

      We can only hope. He’s from the US though so if an opportunity came up to move closer to home I bet he takes it. If the Oilers can’t sign him in January they better work a trade before the deadline or they lose him for nothing. Anything can happen I guess.

  • Petry is just the beginning…..soon enough players won’t wait for their contracts to run out, to get as far away from here as they can.
    Whether you think he’s any good or not is irrelevant, the point is he will be the point of the spear flying out of this debacle. Soon enough Hall is going to walk into Lowes office….look under the desk and as MacT for a trade!

    • Phuryous George

      Hall will ask for a trade. Why wouldn’t he?

      Complete fail on the part of an organization to hold up their end of the bargain (ie. build a winning team). If I was his agent, I would point to poor Mr Iginla or Alfredsson and encourage Hall not to wait until the twilight of his career to whore himself out for a shot at the cup. Do it now, bank later.

      Nobody can fault any player on this team for asking for a trade. There is zero evidence management has the ability to, you know, manage a team.

  • Phuryous George

    Petry will be a good 4th defenseman on a real NHL team. It is absolutely not his fault that, like so much of the Oilers, he has been miscast in his role here.

    This falls on management’s inability to evaluate talent. No real GM (whether on the job for 18 months like poor innocent MacT or on the job for almost 10 years like Lowe) would cast Petry as a 1,2 or 3 d-man.

    Fail by the Oilers. Again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    Pathetic.

  • Spoils

    we desperately need to fix management, but

    Hall is 22
    Draisaitl, Yak, Nuge, Nurse, klefbom are all younger

    we will add another star to that list this year.

    we have lost most of our games by 1 goal.

    the oilers will rise.

    I hope Petry will be a part of it.

    • Oiler fan in Dallas

      I have been waiting for the Oil to “rise” for too many years. If I was Hall or Nuge I would be demanding a trade as soon as possible. They may not have enough years left to be part of this pathetic rebuild. At least I can turn the game off during the second period because it is unwatchable hockey, i can only imagine how much it sucks to be sitting on that bench watching “eke”ans stare at that f’ing score board.

      Remember that losing by one goal is still losing, losing is for losers and unfortunately that is what we have again.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    Great article. I will be sad to watch Petry walk just as his game seems to be rounding into form.

    What would he realistically on the F.A. market? If on a good team he’s a #4, then does that get him $5 million per year?

    The one thing that the Oilers might have on their side is that they can pay him like a top pairing guy. Realistically for the next 2 years, he would probably still be their best defenceman.

    I doubt MacT will since you can’t overpay an entire team and he’s already overpaid everyone else.

  • Zarny

    So let me get this straight…

    First Matt says “Even last year, in my assessment (for whatever that’s worth) Jeff Petry was at best a number 4 who was playing well over his head.”

    But then ends with if the Oilers lose Petry “It’s their poor talent evaluation that’s at fault here.”

    What talent evaluation is that? That Petry was “at best” a number 4 defensemen last year? That Oilers management was “as frustrated with the progress (Petry) would make over the next few years as a lot of onlookers.”

    The 1 year deal was foolish because of leverage. The Oilers have none now. If they weren’t sold on Petry long-term they should have at least paid for 1 year of UFA or traded him last summer.

    Petry has continued to improve this year. The biggest knock is hasn’t developed into an elite top-pairing D. Oilers fans have a bad habit of sh*tting on players if they aren’t superstars or Jason Smith type players. Merely good is consistently been run out of Edmonton.

    Overall I agree with the sentiment that Petry won’t resign with Edmonton. The opportunity to hit the free market at 27 will be too tempting. One more good defensemen will be jettisoned from the franchise.

  • Zarny

    Well. it’s pretty clear that Matt Henderson doesn’t have what the Oilers need. It’s very easy to look at this mess and say that it will never improve so get me the hell out. Edmonton needs firefighters, soldiers and policemen. It needs people who say ‘that dissaster is never going to improve unless I get in there and make a difference’. Ugly as things look in Edmonton right now, there is a real opportunity for immortality here for those with the stones to take it. The names that get attached to ending this horrible cycle of futility will become as big in this city and the NHL as Coffey, Messier, Kurri and Fuhr. All that’s required is the work ethic and the faith. Petry will let us know if he’s part of the long term solution or not. If he doesn’t want to be here, then the 3 headed idiot (management) should shake his hand and send him on his way. If, despite all of Matt Henderson’s points, and despite his goat status for much of his first 2 seasons, he still wants to be an Oiler, then he’s exactly what the Oilers need and they should get that deal done.

  • I can’t see him taking a deal here. MacT made a hometown deal with Smid and shipped him out months later, at a financial loss to Smid. Now he is making less than he could have if he hit FA, but at least he isn’t here I guess.

    He has no ability to negotiate those contracts in good faith after that. He will have to overpay to keep him or let him free.