|The club's second-round pick (45th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Jeff Petry, will be making the jump to pro this coming season. |
The 2010 Young Stars Tournament began about as badly as you could have imagined for top defensive prospect Jeff Petry
. Shortly after landing in the Okanagan Valley, Petry suffered a right shoulder injury early into the team’s first practice at Prospera Place in Kelowna, BC. Petry was forced to leave the session and miss Sunday night’s action against the Canucks, but the news of his injury has been all positive since Saturday’s incident. Petry skated on his own prior to his teammates hitting the ice for practice on Monday afternoon.
"The skate was good. I didn't know what to expect shooting the puck but it was pain-free every shot, so that was something that was good to feel."
When asked if he was good to go for the Battle of Alberta on Tuesday night, Petry admitted that he wasn't sure when he would return to the lineup and would leave the decision up to the team.
“Every day off is going to help, so I’m going to go in and get some treatment and see what they say. I’m ready to go, I want to get in the lineup, but also I don’t want to rush it and make it something that’s going to affect me throughout the regular season.”
While the past few days haven’t gone the way Petry imagined, the past calendar year has been exactly what the 22-year old defenceman needed for his upcoming transition to the professional ranks.
After having a disappointing 2008-2009 season with Michigan State University, Petry rebounded in a big way and collected career-highs in goals (4), assists (25) and points (29), which earned him MSU’s Top Defensive Player award at the team’s post-season banquet. After making the decision to turn pro earlier this year, Petry finished the 2009-2010 season with Edmonton’s former AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. Petry played in eight games to close out the season where he acquitted himself nicely, with both confidence and experience being a key takeaway.
“Those eight games were huge for me – just to get a little bit of experience before coming here. I was hoping to play some games here so that when main camp came along, I’d have that experience.”
Petry also commented on the difficulty of adjusting to a new league as a young player develops through the ranks.
“There are definitely some things that you have to get used to, but at every level you go up it’s the same thing. Going from junior to college, there’s that adjustment period, so it’s nothing I haven’t faced before.”
Petry’s decision to turn pro came at the right time for both the Oilers and him as a player looking to make an impression. He brings the complete package of a shutdown defensive player, a fluid-skating puck mover, and an offensively-minded shooter at the point. While any team could use this kind of prospect in their system, it’s an especially important commodity for the Oilers who lack great organizational depth on the blueline. Petry recognizes the opportunity that he has in front of him.
“It’s great. From day one they’ve said what a great opportunity we all have. It’s just a matter of us taking it into our hands and working hard to try and fill one of those spots.”
While Petry is an all-encompassing defenceman on the ice, he brings the same attitude and skill-set to other sports as well. Petry grew up in a baseball environment with his father Dan “Peaches” Petry working as a Major League pitcher – most notably for the Detroit Tigers in the ‘80s. The decision of which sport to focus on was a tough one for Jeff as he continued playing both for most of his young life.
“There would have been an opportunity (to play baseball) at the college level, but I don’t know how far it would have taken me at the professional level.”
When it came time to choose, Petry said the decision came naturally despite having the luxury of supreme talent in different sports.
“Just felt like I was a little better at hockey and I liked it better with the fast pace and everything like that.”
And was his dad angry that he didn’t follow in the footsteps of his professional career choice?
“Nah, not at all. He’s 100 percent supportive. When it came down to that time he was happy I made the decision and I talked to him about it – he supports me with everything I do.”