Jeff Petry: Dead Man Skating?

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There are exactly two holdovers from the Edmonton Oilers blue line that Craig MacTavish inherited when he ascended to the team’s general managership. One is a young defenceman who he helped recruit and who has routinely been lumped in with the best young players on the roster.

The other if Jeff Petry, a pending unrestricted free agent playing on a one-year deal. Would it surprise anyone if Petry were to find himself representing another NHL team before the end of next season?

The Right Side of the Blue Line

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The Oilers have a bunch of players who can play on the right side. Schultz, who we alluded to in the introduction, is an exceptional offensive defenceman who might yet evolve into a true two-way player. MacTavish has publicly described him as “very much one of our core players,” “outstanding” and alternately described his upside as “huge” and “limitless.”

Also playing the position is Mark Fayne, a new arrival who the Oilers signed to a four-year deal as an unrestricted free agent. Asked about the length of the contract in his July 1 presser, MacTavish made it clear that he wasn’t worried about it.

“Mark asked for a shorter term but we felt like he really fit into what we’re trying to build here with his character and the way that he plays,” the G.M. said. “He’s just a really solid player, a solid person, so we were happy with the term with Mark.”

Then there’s Nikita Nikitin, another free agent signing whose best season came on the right side of Fedor Tyutin under the watchful eye of current Oilers executive (and then Columbus Blue Jackets G.M.) Scott Howson. He’s a left-handed shot and will likely start on the left side, but could easily transition over to the right, and he’s earning $4.5 million for the next two seasons.

Right now, the issue is that the left side of the defence (Andrew Ference, Martin Marincin, Keith Aulie, Oscar Klefbom, maybe Darnell Nurse) can’t really afford to lose Nikitin. But it’s not hard to picture that changing, and soon – Nurse, Klefbom and Marincin are all very young and very promising and one would imagine the Oilers will want all three on the team in 2015-16 (barring a trade of one of them).

In a scenario where Nurse plays wonderfully over a nine-game cameo or Klefbom dominates the minor leagues over two dozen games, the Oilers may well decide to clear space in the majors, and an easy way to do that would be to send Petry out and shift Nikitin to starboard.

Centre

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It’s also easy to imagine the kind of deal that could prompt the Oilers to move a defender like Petry. Edmonton, at the moment, appears ready to go into 2014-15 with a centre depth chart that leans heavily on hope, with both Leon Draisaitl and Mark Arcobello penciled into feature roles.

There is a possibility it works – that Draisaitl is ready to go from Day 1 and that Arcobello shows the wonderful form he displayed in filling in for Sam Gagner early last season. The difficulty is if it doesn’t work, something Edmonton should know within 10-20 games.

This is where we draw a line between the uncertainty at centre and the uncertainty on defence. On the blue line, the Oilers have excellent depth and could well find themselves wanting to make room for Klefbom. At centre, they have scanty depth and may need to bring in some outside help.

There were rumours for much of the summer that Petry might be moved out of town – the Islanders were frequently mentioned as a potential trading partner – in order to address the shaky state of centre. It didn’t happen, and as the summer has gone on a big trade has seemed increasingly improbable.

But unlike justice, a trade delayed is not necessarily a trade denied.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Buke

    Klefbom has poise, something none of our current D has. Doesn’t ring the puck around the boards to the waiting Dman who brings it back in with ease. Marincin is OK, but needs a defining role, he’s kind of meh.

    • Buke

      Poise?? No actually from what I’ve seen he does not. I saw him continually panic and make poor decisions quickly followed by poorly executed passes. He guards the puck well in the corners and behind his net, but he has not learned to play heads up hockey yet. At least not on the smaller NA rink. He’ll be in OKC next year.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Jeff has done his time. 7 yrs to establish himself as an NHL has gone by rather quickly. It has become a familiar sequence of events for this market. Petry leaves Edmonton with his best days in this league ahead of him.

    Hopefully he’s one of the most sought after blueliners at the deadline. He could also be one of the principles used to finally get a 2nd line center.

  • Serious Gord

    JW,

    Love your work Sir but have serious serious reservation with the optimistic talk surrounding Klefbom. I see the upside in Marancin, and I have high hopes that DNurse will become a really good blueliner. He was exactly who I hoped they picked last year.
    But Klefbom… It’s a big fat Mehhhhh question mark. We’ll see. I’d be very surprised to see him “light up” any professional North American League and am certain it will never happen in the NHL. Cap him at mediocrity and hope he gets that far! I’ve watched him closely now a few times and he is just not THAT good.

  • O.C.

    Hey, Jonathan, Iam not a big fan of stats, that said, Iam curious of the success rate of defenseman in the NHL that take the college route.Has anybody takin a look at this. When I watch college players,they appear to be less oriented to winning if being mean is required.

  • The Last Big Bear

    If you were running another team, would you trade Artem Anisimov for 9 months of Jeff Petry?

    I wouldn’t make that trade in a million years.

    He’s worth something in the ballpark of a 2nd or 3rd rounder. That’s pretty good for a guy who’s effectively a rental now.

    Maybe a conditional 3rd that becomes a 2nd if he re-signs with his new team? That sounds fair to me.

    He’s WORTH a roster player, but it may be hard to find a deal. A playoff team looking for a rental wont want to give up a roster player to get a depth defender, and a rebuilding team won’t want to give up a young centre for the rights to a pending UFA.

    But if they can find the right buyer in the right situation, the Oilers may recover good value from a guy who is expected to walk for nothing.

  • O.C.

    Gosh. We are talking about moving one of the two more or less established defencemen, and it’s the one with better advanced stats yet, when we haven’t seen if the changes are going to work?

    This is why THIS GUY drinks.

  • ubermiguel

    Oh and regarding Petry I really think we have to see where that Schultz deal goes as well. If Schultz demands a short term then MacT might not commit to Schultz any more and could play the two negotiations off each other. We can’t afford to lose both.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Petry’s contract IMO is a problem to making a hockey trade like people are writing about. I can’t see us getting more than draft picks for a Petry. Given that his contract can’t be re worked until January what GM is going to take the risk on a pending UFA and trade a good roster player?

  • sportsjunkie007

    There aren’t a lot of teams interested in trading away top 6 centers. I can only think of two whe are currently available: Joe Thornton and Vinnie Lecavalier.

  • Tikkanese

    If Pat Quinn was coaching, could we have seen a top Oil D pair of Mark Hunt with Keith Aulie? Hunt because he “had a feeling” and Aulie bringing the “crust”.

  • Jonathan: I touched on this Nurse-in/Petry-out scenario yesterday just after 3 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show — “ifs and all,” but took it a step further.

    IF Nurse proves he can play through the first nine games of the regular season, I can see him moving in, Nikitin moving over and Petry moving out.

    In that scenario, I can see the Oilers trying to move Petry for help at centre. The teams I talked about yesterday were CBJ and NYI and the player I see in CBJ as the target is somebody you wrote about not long ago — Artem Anisimov.

    • That’s a big IF for Nurse for next season. If they can shelter him on the 3rd pairing it would probably work.

      Anisimov would be a huge addition at C. Would be fantastic. What would possibly be the return from the NYI?

      • Word to the Bird

        If I’m not mistaken, Nurse is 6’4″ 200+ at this point. FYI Marincin is 6’4″ 188 lbs. I don’t know if its too much of a stretch to assume he could hold his own, but only time will tell.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        Josh Ho Sang please..he’s got more confidence than Omark and Schremp put together, plus he will fit right in with the timeline of this rebuild.

      • I would like Anisimov as well, but here is my counter point to Anisimov.

        If you’ve drafted Draisaitl to be your future 2nd line center, why would you trade for a couple years of Anisimov?

        Why wouldn’t you go for Jenner, who could be your long term 3rd line center?

        This is my issue with the deal, not the player.

        If we could have Anisimov for 4 + years that would be great, but then where does your young draft pick go?

        Or would it not be wise to get your third line center now?

          • Where in my post does it mention a problem with centre depth? I believe I explained the depth part? No.

            What future are you talking about? This year or the next?

            So, you fill the second line centre role for a player that might be gone in two years anyways.

            That makes sense to you?

            So, where does that leave you in year 3? Right back talking about centre depth.

            Jenner would push Draisaitl for second line, however, Jenner projects as a third line player, while Draisaitl project as a second.

            Both, with term I might add.

          • Serious Gord

            First off: Why would Columbus trade away, what could be, a very good player? They dont even know what they have in him yet. He could very well be a second line centre.

            Secondly: It would cost more to get a player like that.

            Thirdly: Why do you assume that we would only have Anisimov for 2 years? Who’s to say he wouldnt resign here. Or who is to say he cant move to the wing. There are a lot of options. He might very well click with a player like Perron or Yak and choose to stick around.

            Lastly: Even if he did, worst case scenario, leave after 2 years, it still gave LD a chance to develop properly, and grow into the 2nd line role. By that time, maybe one of Yakimov, Chase, or other has developed into the 3rd line role. Our depth is not as critical (long term) in the bottom sex as it is currently in the top 6.

          • As per your 1-4, it goes both ways.

            1) then why would they trade Anisimov? He’s an actual NHL player and not a prospect.

            2) no, it would not cost more to get Jenner. Would you expect more for RNH or Draisaitl?

            3) Think like a GM, if your going to trade Petry an actual NHL developed defensemen for Anisimov two years is a gamble.

            Does he resign? What inside information do you have to suggest he would resign? So would it be prudent to make that trade given there is a very good chance he doesn’t sign…..

            Lastly

            Again, you are comfortable using both term and player (Anisimov ) while you wait for a player (Draisaitl) to develop so you can insert that player into the line up once Anisimov contract expires?

            So, trade Petry, fill a hole with Anisimov, wait till Draisaitl is ready & watch both Anisimov and Petry walk and still be down a centre at the end?

            Ok, you go with that.

          • Buke

            You’re so confident that Anisimov will walk at the end of his two year contract. So what makes you assume Petry won’t walk at the end of this season?

            Yes, I’m perfectly fine turning a soon-to-be UFA in Perry into an asset in Anisimov, who will fill a large gap in our roster.

            And yes, it WOULD cost more to get Jenner. RFAs with entry level deals are highly sought after. No inside information here, just common sense.

  • Craig1981

    I’m not in favour of moving a guy out of his natural position, and then expecting him to perform.

    If this guy ( Nikitin) can demonstrate his abilities on either side of the ice great……if he cannot then trading Petry is a fools game.

  • Lowe and MacT have continually gutted the middle age player entering the prime of their career since 2006, leaving a gaping hole in the 25-30 age groupd. Old guys and babies since 2006. They are unwilling to pay their own players. Grass is greener syndrome. They overpay for guys from elsewhere.

    Stoll, Torres, Greene, Pitkanen, Hejda, Glencross, and soon to be Petry.

    The core of any team is the 25-30 age group. Lowe and MacT, since 2006, have been unwilling to commit to players in this age range.

    • MacT was not GM when any of these moves were made.

      Stoll and Greene were moved for a veteran, Visnosky who was in the “prime” of his career during stay in Edmonton. I’m not defending this move, just that your description of it might be a little of.

      Hejda and Glencross were allowed to walk as free agents. Anyone who thinks K. Lowe can evaluate talent would have to explain this to me.

      Pitkanen was traded for a veteran winger, Eric Cole who didn’t perform well with the Oil. Pitkannen gave everyone the impression he didn’t really want to be in Edmonton, unfortunately I don’t think Cole did either.

      In any event Petry has signed what can be described as a one year “termination” contract. He doesn’t fit into the Oilers plan beyond this year and is therefore available if the right offer comes along.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        unfortunately for Stoll, he had played like a #1 center for the Oilers until his concussion, then he never seemed to play the same again. still not that upset with Greene being traded….he was and still is only a marginally good d-man. going just off of memory, it seems to me that neither Vishnovsky nor Pitkanen wanted to play here and were subsequently shipped out. and Petry’s soft physical game and only OK defense and point production have probably sealed his fate here. the moves i never understood either were letting Hajda and Glencross go. i think both of those player would have come in handy over the years.

        • ubermiguel

          Oh wow, the Oilers haven’t had centre depth in so long that some of us are putting “Stoll” and “#1 center” in the same sentence. In 05/06 he played well but Horcs was really the #1 guy that year and it was more center-by-committee. Thinking back to that team most of the centres (Horcs, Stoll, Reasoner, Peca, Murray) were defensive minded pivots. Not a lot of offensive flair there.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            ^exactly where did i say he *WAS* the #1 center? seems to me i said he played *LIKE* a #1 center. and in the ’05/’06 season, Stoll had 22 goals and 68 points, while Horcoff had 22 goals and 73 points, so both indeed did play like #1 centers.

          • Serious Gord

            Easy there with the number one center talk. Let’s not forget we were still an 8th place team that got hot at the right time. It’s not like we were a powerhouse all year.

          • They finished the season 8th, but the roster they had after the deadline was definitely not “an 8th place team”.

            A lot of people seem to forget the amazing deadline Lowe put together that year, but I can promise you none of the teams they played thought they were playing the 8th best team in the conference, and Horcoff was a hell of a player at that point.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            but we weren’t that bad either, just a team that added a star d-man in Pronger and a good alround player in Peca and other players at the trade deadline and needed time to gel. and only cup contending teams have a #1 center? tell that to John Tavares!

        • Wow, I hate retrospect.

          Losing Glencross was definitely one of the stranger moves made by management. I remember he came in, did well, then they let him walk, and complained they needed a player of his type right up until they got Gordon.

          In terms of the team today, he doesn’t really make a lot of sense as our LW depth is arguably deepest in the league.

          In fact, I would really like to take a look at the point production from our LW on the season and compare that around the league. I bet dollars to doughnuts it decimates the competition.

          But for a young flames team, he is a great guy to have on the wings to help guys like Monahan and Bennet, assuming he can keep up to the play.

  • I really hope they do not trade away one of the few talents they drafted and developed internally before he emerges as an excellent defender. Trading away talent like that in favour of younger, unproven guys, is kind of what put the Oilers in this position in the first place.

    I suppose an argument could be made that having 4 really solid forward lines can mitigate the need for solid defence until Nurse or Marincin or Klefbom can find their way. But I’d rather the Oilers have strength from the net out and be weak at forward until Draisaitl, Yakimov, Kharia, Moroze, or Chase can emerge.

    If anything, this team needs more vets on the right side to help mentor the kids on the left, not less.

  • O.C.

    Due to Petry’s term, the best we could likely get is Josh Bailey who has excellent advanced stats.

    Hall/Nuge/Eb

    Perron/Bailey/Yak

    Pouliot/Draisaitl/Purcell

    Not a bad top 9.

    Slot Aulie or Klefbom into that third pairing role

          • I don’t know what “Sorry to offend you and your advanced stats need friends” is supposed to mean, and I’ll ignore the infantile “idiot” line for now because it isn’t worth the time. You seem a tad sensitive today.

            I assume you have no idea how many goals he scored or assisted on because you don’t like to be aware of “stats” or see any tracking of game events in writing, so how many Islanders games would you say you saw last year upon which to base your esteemed opinion?

            I remember that for you 2 games was enough on one player or another you were discussing in the past, so I thought I’d ask. Frankly if you are capable of 2 game assessments on a regular basis the Oilers should have hired you.

          • Ok let me start with an apology for the idiot comment. You aren’t far off in your assessment of it. Bad day today but I still shouldn’t have let it had any place here. I sincerely apologize.

            I’d say I saw about 20-25 islander games…not a whole season admittedly but enough to form an opinion on Bailey. He had 38 points, which is respectable but the bulk came at the beginning of the season. It’s not the points that worry me with him, it’s the way he doesn’t show up at all a lot of nights. I would take a chance on him for the right price but not a chance if give petry for him. Maybe a musil or dman of sorts like that. Though I don’t think they’d do it.

            Again, sorry about the previous comment.

  • It really doesn’t matter if Arco or Draisaitl “work out”. If/when Nuge gets hurt (nobody really believes he’s going to play 82 games, right?) then one of those guys will be your first line C.

    Think about that for a minute.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    The only problem is that by the time we realize that our Centre depth is so critical, it may be too late and the season could potentially be lost. Its a huge gamble: pick between a centre (that we desperately need but have a couple that could potentially succeed in a short term stop gap role), or the defenseman (arguably our weakest position and one last year that saw very little NHL-level depth playing).

    Is Arco and Leon worse off at Centre than our defense would be without Petry?

    Cause by the time we find out, our season is already gone.

    This is the first season that Training Camp and Preseason really really matters!

  • Craig1981

    One thing I’ve been impressed with MacT’s tenure is that he isn’t afraid to make trades in the season if things aren’t woeking. He gave dubnyk a chance to rebound but when it was clead he wasn’t we got Scrivens and Fasth.

    I’m hoping if our centres can’t handle the pressure we will see a similar trade to bring help in. If Petrt has to be the one to go than so be it.

    • Serious Gord

      That’s not how it went down.

      Dubnyk was MacT’s starter. He made some noise during his “bold” speech if I recall that he would try to get another goalie to pair with DD but nothing happened. Instead he took the third best goalie in camp as DDs backup to start the season.

      When DD crapped the bed as did his backup – two things some of us warned of – MacT went into damage control mode long after the season was lost – first signing Bryz (who he could have gotten very early in the season and perhaps have staunched the pumping chest wound that was DD at least enough to keep the season in play longer).

      Then he moved very late in the season to get Scrivens and fasth with the clear intent to get ready for next season.

      MacT shouldn’t be admired for the mess he made of the goaltending situation last year and the giant question mark that it remains to start this year – he should be pilloried for it. Revisionist history if there ever was.

  • Craig1981

    An issue I see is, if he plays really well to start, you can’t afford to trade him, with a weaker blue line like we have……….but if he doesn’t play really well he isn’t worth anything.