In an organization that wasn’t shaved to the wood bare in defensive depth, Jeff Petry would probably be a depth defenceman, working his way into the lineup in sheltered circumstances. The Oilers, not being such an organization, have used Petry consistently in a top 4 role all year, especially when Tom Gilbert was out due to injury.
Petry’s path to the NHL has been full of ups and downs. He struggled to improve his counting numbers from his freshman season in Michigan (though he was the highest scoring defenceman on his team all 3 years there). His first foray into the AHL saw him get creamed in an 8 game sample, but he was able to follow it up with a strong half season in 2010-11. This pattern continued in the NHL where he struggled initially but has since played his way past several veterans.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||Jon||Ryan||Scott|
Jeff Petry’s counting numbers still don’t tell the full story about his play this year:
|O-zone Start:||4th 49.3%|
Petry’s basically been playing on the top pairing and doing a tremendous job at moving the puck in the right direction. He’s gotten the rough end in terms of PDO, mostly on the back of a .905 ES save % behind him.
For a 23 year old to have this much responsibility and to be able to handle it provides the Oilers with at least one young defenceman who will hit his prime as a pretty good player to go along with the kids. He’s been exceptional in terms of his decision making in his own zone and his positional play and decision making while defending the rush are almost on par with Tom Gilbert.
One area where he needs to improve is his play in the offensive zone. Because of his skillset, he’s going to get opportunities to handle the puck offensively and it’s this area here where he can make the biggest gains. He hasn’t been particularly good at creating a shooting lane and often puts his shot right into the shin pads of the opposing forward. For him to take the next step he’s going to need to move his feet to create his lanes and make better decisions on when to shoot and when to just put it in the corner to keep the puck safe.