FUTURE WATCH
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Future Watch: Jeff Petry

College-trained defenceman adapting well to pro game in Oklahoma City

Thursday, 04.11.2010 / 8:00 AM / Future Watch
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
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Future Watch: Jeff Petry
Jeff Petry skates during Oilers Development Camp this summer. (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)

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He's been on the road to Edmonton for four years, but Jeff Petry can finally see the City of Champions skyline up ahead.

With three years at Michigan State University and eight AHL games on his resume, Petry began his first full professional season with the Oklahoma City Barons in early October.

The tall, offensive-minded defenceman is already making an impact: 12 games into the Barons inaugural season, Petry has two goals, five assists, and four penalty minutes. His seven points leads all Barons rookies and is good for second among the team's blue-liners, trailing only veteran -- and defensive partner -- Shawn Belle.

According to Barons assistant coach Gerry Fleming, Petry has plenty of up-side and is adapting well to the pro game.

"He draws a lot of minutes, sees the ice really well, his passes are crisp tape-to-tape, and he has really good offensive instincts," Fleming explained. "He wants to learn, watches video, wants to see clips to improve his game. The first step is wanting to make yourself better by identifying areas for improvement, and he does that."

Although Petry is now committed to improving his on-ice play, his athletic pursuits weren't always hockey-focused.

Jeff's father Dan was an all-star pitcher for the major league baseball's Detroit Tigers, helping the team win the World Series in 1984. Jeff split his time between baseball and hockey growing up but turned his focus to hockey in high school.

"I played baseball as long as I played hockey, but it's just one of those things where I enjoyed playing hockey more, it's a faster pace," Petry recalls.

"It was a tough one to tell my dad that I wanted to stop playing, but he understood," he adds. "My high school hockey coach kind of warned him before, so he kind of knew it was coming. He was supportive of whatever decision I was going to make."

The decision has turned out to be a good one.

After one season with the USHL's Des Moines Buccaneers, the 18-year-old was selected in the second round, 45th overall, by the Oilers. He added 18 goals and 45 points in 54 games with the Buccaneers the following season before starting his freshman year at Michigan State in 2007.

With 67 points, 86 penalty minutes, and 118 games on his college hockey transcripts, Petry and fellow Oilers prospect Chris Vande Velde were named Inside College Hockey All-Americans this past April.

The honour came two weeks after he signed an entry-level contract with the Oilers and made his pro debut with the Springfield Falcons.

Petry says those late-season AHL games helped prepare him for a busy summer and the current Barons campaign.

Jeff Petry steps up to the plate during Oilers prospect batting practice at Telus Field midway through Oilers Development Camp this summer. (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
"Just getting those eight professional games under my belt was good to get those in before starting a new season," he says. "I had a good summer in the weight room and training. I haven't felt better on the ice."

As a rookie, Petry's play isn't perfect, but Fleming is confident the eager-to-learn 22-year-old will improve quickly.

"There are little things he has to learn in the transition between college and the pros -- following the play up, holding the line, moving the puck quickly all the time, making that first simple play quickly and processing information quickly," Fleming explains.

"Guys are stronger, quicker, and have more experience here in the pros. There's a learning curve there, but Jeff's curve is less significant because he's so intelligent."

Oilers Assistant General Manager Rick Olczyk adds that Petry is "certainly in the mix" when it comes to the franchise's top defensive prospects.

"It takes a little time to adjust to the pro game, which is only natural for any young player to come out of college or junior into pro, playing against older men," Olczyk says. "Jeff has certainly met the challenge and is certainly playing well down there. He's continued to get better each game."

After suffering a shoulder injury during Oilers rookie camp this September, Petry bounced back and made a strong showing during main camp. He was among the last defencemen to be assigned to the Barons.

While Olczyk admits it is impossible to tell when Petry might reach his NHL destination, he is confident Oilers fans will like the young defenceman when they see him.

"He's a tremendous skater, makes that good first pass tape-to-tape, has very high-end skills, and makes smart decisions with the puck," Olczyk says. "I think people will enjoy the offensive side to his game. He has made strides and is one of the best young defencemen down in OKC."

Petry's goals this season are pretty simple: "I want just to establish myself and make a name for myself and just play consistent hockey and hopefully get those call-ups."

Click here for past Future Watch articles

2010-11 OILERS PROSPECT STATS

Forwards
Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Cameron Abney   19 15 3 1 4 -2 17 Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Alexander Bumagin   23 9 1 2 3 N/A 2 Novokuznetsk (KHL)
Philippe Cornet   20 10 0 2 2 -1 0 Oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Drew Czerwonka   18 16 6 4 10 -1 15 kootenay ice (WHL)
Alexandre Giroux   29 12 6 6 12 E 20 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Curtis Hamilton   19 17 8 12 20 +15 6 saskatoon blades (whl)
Teemu Hartikainen   20 12 4 1 5 -8 7 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kellen Jones   20 6 3 3 6 N/A 19 quinnipiac university (ecac)
Milan Kytnar   21 11 1 2 3 -2 2 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Anton Lander   19 17 4 3 7 N/A 14 timra ik (sel)
Matt Marquardt   23 7 1 1 2 +1 4 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan Martindale   18 16 10 12 22 +11 10 ottawa 67's (ohl)
Brad Moran   31 12 5 5 10 +4 4 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan O'Marra   23 12 0 4 4 +1 17 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Linus Omark   23 12 4 6 10 +1 22 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ben Ondrus   28 12 0 1 1 -6 12 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kristians Pelss   18 14 1 1 2 -1 8 edmonton oil kings
Tyler Pitlick   19 10 3 8 11 E 7 medicine hat tigets (whl)
Toni Rajala   19 14 4 4 8 N/A 0 ilves tampere (fnl)
Liam Reddox   24 12 6 3 9 +2 2 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Gregory Stewart   24 8 0 1 1 +1 17 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Chris Vande Velde   23 11 1 1 2 -8 6 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Defencemen
Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Shawn Belle   25 12 1 9 10 -3 19 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jordan Bendfeld   22 1 0 0 0 N/A 0 Stockton thunder (echl)
Kyle Bigos   21 5 0 2 2 N/A 16 merrimack college (h-east)
Jeremie Blain   18 2 0 1 1 N/A 2 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)
Taylor Chorney   23 12 0 3 3 +1 8 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Brandon Davidson   19 15 1 8 9 -8 11 regina pats (whl)
Troy Hesketh   19 10 0 0 0 -1 24 chicago steel (ushl)
Martin Marincin   18 17 7 11 18 +7 23 prince george cougars (whl)
Johan Motin   21 9 0 0 0 E 7 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Richard Petiot   28 12 0 4 4 E 6 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jeff Petry   23 12 2 5 7 -8 4 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Alex Plante   21 12 0 2 2 -2 32 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Goalies
Name Age GP W L T SO GAA PCT Team
Tyler Bunz   18 8 4 4 0 0 2.74 .906 medicine hat tigers (whl)
Martin Gerber   36 10 6 4 0 0 2.45 .913 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Bryan Pitton   22 2 1 1 0 0 3.52 .891 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Olivier Roy   19 11 7 4 0 0 2.48 .919 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)
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