On Friday afternoon, rumours began swirling that the Edmonton Oilers are interested in acquiring a centreman.
Rumours coming out of Edmonton have also been saying that they may be shopping Jeff Petry.
Dreger: "I wouldn't be surprised if Petry is traded a month, maybe two months for a draft pick." #Oilers see good things in Nurse, Klefbom.— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) October 14, 2014
It's entirely possible that the Oilers are using Petry as bait for a centreman. The 26-year-old defenseman seems to be falling out of favour in Dallas Eakins' eyes as he's already been a healthy scratch early in the season. The Ottawa Senators have few centreman who may be enticing to MacTavish. The first that comes to mind is Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Pageau is stuck behind Turris, Zibanejad, Smith, Legwand, and Lazar for a roster spot, even though he's probably ready to be a full-time player on another team. I know this wouldn't be a popular decision, but it could be win-win for both teams and players. Zack Smith may also be an option, but I doubt the Senators move him since they seem to love the guy. Either way, the Senators have some expendable resources that might be attractive to Edmonton.
Now, I bet you're reading this and asking yourself why would the Senators want another defenseman on the team who isn't even good enough to stay on Edmonton's blueline? We already have Cowen, Wiercioch, Gryba, Phillips, and Borowiecki as scratching candidates, why would we want another? While this is true, I'm not sure Petry is the problem in Edmonton, I think it might be the coach (see Wiercioch/MacLean for a comparable). I actually believe that trading for Petry could be - and dare I say it - a steal like Kyle Turris was. He's unappreciated in Edmonton and could very well be needing a new environment in which to thrive.
So the weekly question is: Would trading for Jeff Petry be a beneficial move for the Ottawa Senators to make?
Petry is a big man, standing 6'3, 200 lbs and some hold the opinion that he's Edmonton's best defenseman, for what it's worth. He's said to be a good skater with good puck moving skills and a good shot. In 240 games in the NHL, Petry has 59 points (0.245 PPG), which isn't the most impressive record, but to put that into perspective, it's a bit better than Methot's 397 games and 85 points (0.214 PPG). Elliotte Friedman has been quoted saying, "I think Jeff Petry is a decent defenceman and he’s going to walk at the end of this year. I worry for the Oilers... that this one is going to come back and bite them. He’s a right-hand shot. I think he’s a reasonably talented guy." Scott Cullen of TSN also has similar praises, stating that Marincin-Petry provided some good stability for Edmonton last year. These opinions seem to encompass the general opinion of Petry, at least in the media and blogosphere.
If we look at some of Petry's advanced stats in Edmonton, they indicate he's a good defenseman, even if Eakins doesn't seem to think so. Take his puck moving abilities for example. If you look at the chart below, courtesy of Jonathan Willis at the Edmonton Journal, we can see that he was much better at zone entry last year than the rest of Edmonton's defenders. Per Willis, in the chart, control is the percentage of times that Edmonton held possession when that player entered the zone, Ctrl/60 shows the number of those entries during 5-on-5, Total/60 is the number of entries an hour, Shots/60 is the shots (and shot attempts) that were generated during an hour's worth of the particular player's zone entries, and Total is the number of offensive zone entries each player made. As we can see, Petry won every category by a fairly large margin last year in Edmonton.
Petry is also decent at defensive zone exits, which Bruce McCurdy from the Edmonton Journal broke down last year. From McCurdy's work below, we can see that Petry also out-played his defense colleagues in this department as well.
If you look at the next chart, even when McCurdy adjusted the numbers to see each defenseman's work with a more even ice-time distribution (he chose per-15 minutes of even strength TOI since that was Edmonton's average at the time), Petry still had more zone exits than any other of Edmonton's defensemen. The only category he wasn't the best in was Control%, which was the percentage that Edmonton retained possession player zone-exit.
These examples that I have provided show a little bit of what Petry can do and what skills he could bring to the Senators. They don't seem to enjoy Patrick Wiercioch's company a whole lot and Marc Methot could be on the way out if he doesn't re-sign, so Petry could be a potential replacement. He is a right-handed defenseman, which the Senators may not be too interested in, but he could provide them with some more stability getting the puck out of their own zone and into the opposing zone.
One last point to consider that might hinder Bryan Murray's decision is Petry's contract. He is making a little over $3 million this year which is decent, but he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. If Murray is to give up assets for Petry, he'd need to re-sign him so his trade isn't a lost cause. That makes trading for him a gamble, but it could be worthwhile.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your weekend!