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Oilers hoping for contract extension with Petry

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish has been negotiating with defenseman Jeff Petry in an effort to sign him to a contract extension and prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

However, if the two sides are unable to agree to a contract before the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on March 2, it is expected Petry will be traded.

"We really challenged him on a one-year contract [this past offseason]," MacTavish said Friday. "He's clearly met that challenge and he's on a level that he hasn't been at before. I give Jeff a lot of credit for that. As for what the course of action is going forward, I've had many conversations over the last four weeks with Wade Arnott, Jeff's representative, as you might imagine. They have all been constructive conversations, but I'm just going to leave it at that and we'll see what happens going forward."

Petry, 27, was chosen by the Oilers in the second round (No. 45) of the 2006 NHL Draft and has played parts of five seasons with them.

In 58 games this season, Petry has four goals and 11 assists. He sustained a rib injury blocking a shot Wednesday in a 5-4 shootout win against the Boston Bruins and was unable to play against the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

"They've had some communications and talks have started and that's all I can really say at the moment," Petry said. "Edmonton has been great for me. They gave me the opportunity [to play in the NHL]. Both sides are going to communicate here in the next little bit and see if we can't find something that works out for both sides."

Petry has developed into an integral member of the Oilers defense. He is averaging 20:58 of ice time per game and plays in all situations. His game took a dramatic rise following the promotion of coach Todd Nelson from Edmonton's American Hockey League affiliate in Oklahoma City to replace Dallas Eakins, who was fired Dec. 15.

"I think it's just a matter of confidence," Petry said. "When [Nelson] came in here, he saw my game down in Oklahoma City and that's where my development started. He came here and said he wanted to see the same game, the offensive side of it that I showed there and that was something that triggered my game, to get up in the play and be more of an offensive threat, which not only helps the offense but helps me with my [defensive] gaps."

MacTavish said he has fielded inquires on Oilers veteran forwards Matt Hendricks, Boyd Gordon and Derek Roy.

Jeff Petry
Defense - EDM
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 15
SOG: 102 | +/-: -25

With a young nucleus, MacTavish is leaning toward keeping his veteran players.

"My assessment on where our team is right now is that we have developed a foundation over the last few years that I'm comfortable with going into next year," MacTavish said. "There has been tumultuous change from a personnel standpoint, and I think we're now at the stage where I'm comfortable with the foundation going forward. Obviously we need to add pieces, important pieces, but I view Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks as part of that foundation going forward.

"Next year, going into training camp, there is every expectation on my part that we’ll have 80 percent of our people back, which hasn't been the case in the last couple of years. And I view that as a positive going forward."

Roy, 31, was acquired by Edmonton in a trade with the Nashville Predators for forward Mark Arcobello on Dec. 29. Roy has five goals and seven assists in 23 games with the Oilers and has been a positive influence on linemate Nail Yakupov.

"With Derek we're in the process of reaching out to him and see what his feeling is in terms of getting into a relationship with us going forward," MacTavish said. "My mind is that we wouldn't trade Derek for a superficial asset. It's very unlikely that he'll be moved because we have considerable interest in him longer term and he has meshed well with Yakupov and his development and that's very important to us as a hockey club going forward."

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