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The Progress Report: Rock Solid

by Travis Knee / Edmonton Oilers
Many teams across the National Hockey League have dealt with their share of injuries this season, and the Edmonton Oilers are no exception. The Oilers have battled a rash of injuries to all parts of their lineup, giving a number of young players a chance to show their skills at the top level.

One young player who really stands out as having made the most of that very opportunity is defenceman Jeff Petry.

The 24-year-old from Ann Arbor, Michigan was Edmonton’s second round draft pick in the 2006 entry draft, taken 45th overall that year. At 6’ 3” and nearly 200 pounds, Petry was considered a mobile puck-moving defenceman with good size.

After finishing out his college hockey at Michigan State, Petry spent last season split between the NHL and the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL. He put up solid numbers while playing with the Barons, notching 24 points (7G, 17A) in 41 games. On top of that he earned valuable NHL experience while playing 35 games for the Oilers in 2010-2011, picking up five points.
Jeff Petry is playing some of his best hockey over this past month.

Working hard over the summer on his game, Petry came into this season on the bubble of being a regular at the NHL level.

“I worked really hard in the offseason to be ready for training camp this year, I really wanted to show that I was ready,” explained Petry.

The work has paid off, as Petry was not only given that chance to play a role this season, but a major one.

When injuries on the backend sidelined regulars such as Cam Barker, Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert and Corey Potter at different points this season, Petry was there to fill in and absorb many of those key minutes.

“He’s done a wonderful job for us this season; he’s really matured as a player and has shown an ability to play against the other team’s top guys,” said head coach Tom Renney.

When looking at Jeff’s season so far, we are only now starting to see the full potential that Petry has to offer. If we focus in on the past 12 games, we see a real spike in Jeff’s overall production.

Over that stretch of hockey, Petry has put up eight points (1G, 7A) in the 12 games and has averaged over 24 minutes of ice-time a game against some of the other team’s top forwards.
On many night's Petry is leading the team in ice-time.

Adding to those numbers is the fact that in many of those games, Petry is logging more ice-time than anyone else on the roster. Leading the team in ice-time on more and more occasions can be seen as the ultimate compliment for any defenceman.

“It always means a lot to know your coach has the trust to play you in all situations like that, it feels really good,” said Petry.

As we come down the final stretch of the 2011-2012 NHL season, one area that will certainly be in focus for this Oilers team will be its defence. The Oilers will surely look to bolster their backend prior to next season, leaving many to wonder which players will factor in to the future moving forward.

With Tom Renney having already stated that he will not sacrifice the team’s young core heading into the February 27th NHL trade deadline, one has to assume that Jeff Petry has done everything he can to be considered part of that talented young core.
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