Heaven knows, the Edmonton Oilers have done much to earn the cynicism of their fans by making so many questionable player personnel decisions in recent seasons, but I don’t see the signing of Jeff Petry to a one-year contract as one of them.

There was much consternation among the fan base today when the Oilers announced the one-year pact, worth $3.075 million, because the deal will take Petry to UFA status but not beyond. Some shouted, “Bad asset management,” assuming Petry will be out the door the second he’s eligible to bolt. Others assume a trade is inevitable. Petry is as good as gone.

I don’t buy the bad asset management bit – it’s an in-vogue buzz-phase that gets thrown around a lot around here, in large part because of the reign of error we saw under Steve Tambellini. It’s premature, to say the least, unless Petry walks at the end of the coming season without any return.

I see the latter, the possibility Petry will be moved along between now and the next trade deadline, as being far more likely — although not necessarily inevitable. I’m OK with that outcome, with the caveat that MacTavish lands something of use, not futures or prospects, if that time arrives.

Bottom line, this is a bridge contract to the deal Petry and the Oilers couldn’t come to terms on this time around. Petry is going to get paid and he’s going to get term in his next contract as a UFA, whether it’s here with the Oilers or with another team. As Jonathan Willis wrote at The Cult of Hockey today, this sets the clock on Petry and the Oilers.


Craig MacTavish10

“This one-year deal is something both sides felt was best,” Petry told Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 today. That might be spin by Petry, but if both sides believe it really is best to take a longer look before committing because they couldn’t agree on term or dollars now, it’s not a reach.

Petry has been playing first-pairing minutes here, so bargaining for a new deal as a first-pairing defenseman is exactly what you’d expect, especially if the Oilers wanted a year or two or three of his UFA status. Why wouldn’t Petry ask for $4.5 million or more per season over, say, four or five years?

On the Oilers side of the bargaining table, why would MacTavish commit to that kind of money and term if he isn’t sure where Petry fits in the plans? Do you throw $20 million or more at a pending UFA if you’re not confident the contract will make sense a year or two from now just because you’re afraid you night lose him for nothing?

Petry has been pushed into first-pairing minutes because the Oilers don’t have any actual first-pairing defensemen now. Fans have been lamenting that for, what, a season or more? This contract gives the Oilers the opportunity to decide where Petry fits moving forward. Not a bad idea with the additions of Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin and Keith Aulie and with Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and Darnell Nurse on the way.



Petry draws a lot of criticism for the mistakes he makes and a perceived lack of physicality, much of it earned, but there’s absolutely no questions he’s an NHL defenseman. I don’t think he’ll ever be a first-pairing guy with the vast majority of NHL teams, but that’s a point for debate. The Oilers get another season to draw their conclusions on that point.

If Petry puts together a solid season, he can’t lose. He’ll either get his term and his money from the Oilers or from another team as a UFA. If the Oilers like what they see, MacTavish can open talks about a new contract to lock Petry up in January. Sure, Petry could opt to test the market, but why would he leave if the money is right?

This deal buys time for both sides. Nothing wrong with that.

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

  • Chainsawz

    I’ll play devils advocate here.

    Petry might very well prove that he’s a solid top-4 – perhaps even top-pairing – dman and the Oilers might very well decide to lock him up long term. Great right? Yes. The negative is that MacT will be paying full price for Petry. No bargain. And bargain contracts come in handy for winging teams. You’d think that they’d know what they have with Petry after all these years…

    That said, probably better to be cautious than overpaying for him know if you’re really not sure.

    • Serious Gord

      And that they don’t know may in fact turn out be he is what he already is – and no better. I don’t know my defenseman history well enough to be able to point to a dman with the number of nhl games he has – on the first line with lots of minutes no less – at the age of 26 going on 27, who hadn’t already firmly shown what they were or weren’t capable of. I suspect there have been very very few over the years who blossomed into greatness post age 26.

  • Sorensenator

    Seems like decent asset management. Obviously Petry wants to earn a good term, and the Oilers can assess if this is a player you want going forward. Both teams can choose each other by the deadline or they trade the player and bring a cheeper option. When you have players in the pipeline like Klefbom half a year away, Nurse and Gernat a year away this is not a bad idea.

    My second point is if you have to pay 4.5m x 5 to retain a player then really this is the best senario that teams can do which bring in a cheeper option.

    3rdly, obviously Petry did not want to commit, otherwise their should have been an agreeable term. If I am in his shoes, and knowing maybe I won’t necessarily get top pairing minutes, I’d try to get some term, because the honest truth is he might only get second pairing minutes which may inhibit his next contract.

    • Serious Gord

      This will be one of those fun articles to look back at a year from now to see who was right and who was wrong. I sat terrible asset management, hello 2015 3rd and 5th round draft picks, good bye Petry.

  • bazmagoo

    Petry is probably looking for 1st pairing money as that’s where he played here, and why wouldn’t you try. but i think this makes him more valuable as a rental at the trade deadline, the team getting him won’t have to worry about hanging on to a overpriced rental…i could even work for a team with cap issues today, if they want an nhl defensemen until they can get their house in order, a one year at reasonable money might make people a little more interested…it’s the anti-luongo contract

  • bazmagoo

    I like the deal, good for Petry and good for the team. Petry is a 3rd pairing defenceman on a playoff team, maybe 2nd at the very best. The Oil can’t afford to lose him now, but could very well afford it next season.

    Ference can slide over to the right, with Fayne and Schultz taking over the other two spots. This deal gives tons of motivation to Petry, Nurse, Klefbom and Marincin. Great asset management imo, in MacT I trust!

  • camdog

    What I don’t understand is when Tambs set both Hemsky and Gags up to be UFA’s it was regarded as poor management, but Mact does it and it’s good, prudent, management.

  • Petry is 26, not 30-something. The Oilers could have signed him with term and he would be a tradeable asset because veteran right shot top 4 defensemen are a scarce quanity.

    But it takes a real GM to sign their own home grown players to these contracts.

    Petry should have been signed to 4 x $5 million. (Nikitin require $4.5 for UFA years, and Petry is a better defensemen, and the term is longer).

    The Oilers were unwilling to pay these mid-twenty players who should have formed the core of the team. Instead they paid the 30-something guys and overpaid UFA and the team imploded.


    They overly focus on the flaws of their own guys, and look enviously at outside players, who they overpay.

    Not paying Petry is just more of the same

  • Totally agree with ya Robin as I dont see this as an end for sure with Petry and the Oilers either.

    I actually like this because if Petry excells this year as a second pairing defender with the other guys of say… Nikitin, Fayne, Ference, Marancin, Schultz, then it allows both sides to determine his next cointract before the deadline next March.

    It also gives the Oilers at least 2/3 of the upcoming season to see whether or not Klefbom and/or Nurse, Aulie, etc, are more than ready to move up to the Oilers soon enough and allow for a big needed trade if Petry does not wish to stay and re-sign by then or does not fulfill that 2nd pairing enough.

    Even then, if the Oilers are very much within a playoff spot, it may be necessary to trade a guy like Petry because a need is definite elsewhere, and becuase of say, that Klefbom has been doing exactly what Petry has been the lkast few years… and then this becomes a definite team asset availability – for another type team asset requirement.

    Right now, other teams know what Petry is as a defenceman and what he costs so this is not bad for the Oilers. I like Petry and he is young enough/big enough/good enough to stick for a longer term next contract but then it wont hurt to have good options for the team either.

  • I don’t like this deal at all!

    I think 4 million is fair for a 2nd line Dman and would have went up to that with him on as long a term of a deal as he would sign.

    There is no question he is a strong 2nd pairing Dman. Now, the lure of free agency dollars is there and only a few months away.

    We will be forced to pay a lot more to keep him in a year or we will be trading him away as a rental.

    • Serious Gord

      I think it is very debatable whether he is a “strong” second line dman. Is he really in the top sixty group of defensemen? He’s never played second line minutes on a respectable team for anyone to say for sure what he is.

      Therefore the contract makes sense.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Exactly!! Robin, thanks for the common sense. Tired of all the doom and gloom. If he plays well he gets paid and we will have first chance to offer him the money. Some will say this takes away trade value, but so does a big contract (see Sam Gagner). You cannot force him to take a value contract into free agency years. People also forget even if he walks you do not simply loose a asset for nothing because you free up money which in the cap world is also a asset. He should be a very motivated player, who we will have first chance to sign if he does well. If not, we are not stuck with some albatross contract, and we can either trade him to a desperate playoff team, or use his money to sign someone else and fill another hole.

  • I love the phrase, “reign of errors”.

    Also, you say that if they trade him at the deadline you hope that it doesn’t just go for “futures or prospects”. How many trades at that time of year go for anything more than that?

    • Serious Gord

      Very true. The time to deal him for right now product in return is – right now. I hope (in vain?) that MacT has had a couple or more options already well discussed with other GMs and pohos to make a deal before August.

    • “I see the latter, the possibility Petry will be moved along between now and the next trade deadline, as being far more likely — although not necessarily inevitable. I’m OK with that outcome, with the caveat that MacTavish lands something of use, not futures or prospects, if that time arrives.”

      Didn’t say at the deadline. Fair point, though, in that the return on a pending UFA comes on a deal done sooner rather than later.

  • This deal leads to Petry being traded before the season starts for a 2C. We need this badly, Petry + pick/prospect will retrieve a 2C. Then MacT can do a side deal for a top 4 dman with a cap strapped team (Boychuk).

  • You are not throwing 20 million at Petry. not a chance. Especially with guys like Klefbom and Nurse in the pipe.

    Sure why not commit 20 million to a guy who has squat to his resume. Sorry Jeff you neither are a point generator nor are a defensive shutdown defenceman. You are a tweener wandering the desert looking for an oasis filled with cash.

    Tank goodness Mact is the Gm. Move him on for something more solid.

    • Dan 1919

      I sincerely hope Petry lights it up this year, but don’t see it happening.

      You hit the nail on the head. Oiler fans over value Petry as a fast playmaking dman. He’s definitely not, he’s a liability defensively and like you said, he’s nothing close to the point generator some people believe he is now, or is becoming.

      Petry has overvalued himself and it will likely cost him millions. He had a longer term silver platter offer from the Oilers that he hasn’t necessarily earned but he turned it down. If Petry has the same season and continues to show the lack of dedication to shore up his defensive shortcomings, he will be traded and will then begin the Tom Gilbert journey only consisting of far less money.

      I’ll tell you right now with Petry’s defensive liabilities and his mediocre offensive upside he does not fit in on any good team. If he does not play VERY well to start the season he will be traded and find out where he actually slots in as an NHL dman. That is on a weak team on short trial contracts all for less money than he would have made just signing on for longer with the Oilers.

      This will get trashed but making excuses for players like Petry is part of the problem here in Edm, and this 1year deal shows that MacT realizes it too.

      I hope I’m wrong, but I see Petry following a similar road to Dubnyk, although it will be far less harsh as Petry will remain in the NHL just playing for weak teams as 3-5 dman.

  • I agree very prudent asset management by Mac T .Most fans are just not used to smart Management decisions when it comes to the oilers so it is taking us all a while to get used to it now that Mac T is at the helm .

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    exactly. Most D-men hit their stride at game 300. This could be a breakout year for Petry now that he has some teammates who can share the load.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    So the several years of very good underlying numbers wasn’t enough to make a decision on Petry?

    So it makes sense to trade away your best dman?

    the Reign of Error continues…aided by the MSM, who threw roses at Tambo’s many misnomers when they were made also.

    Gilbert for Nultz? Great deal.