Jeff Petry and the Calgary Flames

So here it is. I think the
Calgary Flames should trade for Jeff Petry. What’s that I hear you say?

“Here we go, another Oilers
fan trying to pawn off dysfunctional players on the Flames”

No, not at all. In fact,
quite the opposite.

Let’s start by taking a look
at the player and see if we can gauge where he fits on the Oilers and then try
to translate that to comparable players around the league, adjusting for team
differences. Once we’ve done that we can then see if he would translate as a
net gain for the Flames were he to be added.

Jeff Petry is a 6’3”, 198lbs
27 year-old right handed defenseman who plays the second-toughest minutes with
the worst zone starts on the Oilers’ defence corps.

 Petry QoT

The above shows the ZS and
Corsi relative to the quality of teammates. Petry and Andrew Ference are
getting some of the toughest starts aside from Mark Fayne, and Petry is helping
to produce shots on net in spite of it and he’s doing it while playing with the
Oilers’ lesser lights.

 Petry QoC

 This graph shows the same ZS
but the Corsi relative is to the quality of competition this time. So again,
Petry and Ference figure in facing the tough competition with unfavourable zone
starts. The difference between the two is that Petry contributes to positive
shot differentials, which means scoring chances.

(both Vollman graphs courtesy
of hockeyabstract.com)

His ZS are in line with Dan
Girardi, 23rd toughest in the NHL, his Corsi relative to Quality of
Competition has him in line with Ryan Ellis and Brendan Dillon but ahead of
Kevin Bieksa, Brent Seabrook, Kris Russell and even Erik Karlsson. 

He takes the same number of
penalties per game as Ryan Suter, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Edler, Kris Letang
and Anton Stralman, to name a few.

(data courtesy of
behindthenet.com)

Petry WoI Oilers 

 To look at it another way,
here is a graph of the Oilers’ defense. Bigger the bubble, the more the ice
time. The bluer, the better. Up means tougher competition, down easier. Left
means more defensive zone starts, right is offensive zone starts. As defensemen
go, a big blue bubble in the upper left quadrant is a thing of beauty.The Oilers don’t have one but Jeff Petry is as close as they come.

 Petry WoI Flames

Now this graph shows the
Flames’ current defense corps and my own aesthetically inspired addition as to
where Petry might best fit.

(graphs courtesy of waronice.com)

Jeff Petry is a consistent,
reliable defenseman who can anchor a 2nd pairing defense in a
shut-down role while still contributing to offensive chances be they via the
rush or a strong first pass out of the zone to a forward. He strips the puck
off an opponents’ stick with his reach, skating and positioning. He supports
the play well and often finds the forward with a pass to exit the zone
efficiently. This season he is averaging around 18 minutes a night in precisely
that role.

Petry paired with Wideman or
Russell could be a very effective 2nd pairing that would give some
breathing room to Giordano and Brodie and allow the remaining of either Wideman
or Russell to face even easier competition thus improving their chances for
success.

“So if he’s all that then why
are the Oilers trading him?”

If I could think of a
reasonable justification I’d probably sleep better at night. The truth? I don’t
know, but they never seem to like smart, smooth-skating college defenders who
use their brains instead of their brawn. This despite a history with players
like Randy Gregg and Charlie Huddy. The problem with Jeff Petry isn’t Jeff
Petry, it’s what the management group of the Edmonton Oilers perceives him not
to be in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Fellow Oilers fan and blogger, Woodguy had a recent article about the Oilers’ defensive lineup going into next season. The short version? Auston Mathews is going to look great playing with Jack Eichel. 

“Well then what are you
thinking the Flames should give for him? If he’s so great, they’re not paying
much because Treliving says their sticking to their rebuild schedule. And so
help me, if you say Sam Bennett I will hunt you down…!”

No. Not Sam Bennett. The good
thing about this proposal is that the Flames could trade to acquire Petry and
remain on their rebuilding schedule with minimal interruption.

The current scuttlebutt about
the NHL trade landscape is that Detroit and Anaheim are pursuing Tyler Myers, a
big RHD signed at a $5 million cap hit for three more years. (Editor’s Note: Written before the Winnipeg/Buffalo trade broke this morning.)

Buffalo wants a 1st
round pick but may settle for a 2nd with a good prospect in tow. The
Ducks have a glut of young forwards they could send over with a pick and the Red
Wings are throwing out names like Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul and Teemu Pulkinnen,
all solid prospects.

If we imagine one of those
two teams landing Myers then it would stand to reason that Jeff Petry is target
number two, and with his pending free agency the price would come down probably
somewhere in the vicinity of a 2nd round pick or a 3rd
and a good prospect.

I’m not taking into account
the soft market for UFAs from last year, but am instead assuming that the
market rebounds somewhat closer to, but not at, the high-tide mark that was the
2013 trade deadline where players like Douglas Murray were moved for two 2nd
round picks. Let’s use a higher price tag to test the waters and if he still
seems attractive as an option, then you bid under and negotiate up to your
ceiling.

So now let’s imagine the
Flames were to find themselves interested in Jeff Petry and bidding against the
Red Wings because Buffalo sent Myers to the Ducks to keep him out of conference.

How then does Petry compare
with the remainder of the pending UFA defense class?

 Petry Usage

 The other notable unrestricted free agents this spring are Zbynek Michalek, Francois Beauchemin,
Johnny Oduya, Andrei Meszaros, Mark Methot, Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin,
John Boychuk, and Mike Green. Obviously Beauchemin, Oduya, Ehrhoff, Boychuk and
Green aren’t likely to be traded as those teams are all in or pushing for a
playoff spot. 

In the above graph, Petry
comes out as a better defensive option who can still push the pace of play but
does not handle quite as severe competition as the better-known players, many
of whom are unlikely to be available at the deadline. The 0.5 QualComp number
is a solid, 2nd pairing range and the 43-ish% ZS coupled with the
ice time and shot metrics show that he is about as dependable a secondary
defensive option as one could hope for.

Ken Holland has recently said
that he isn’t going to push for rentals with 1st round picks any
longer, so the offer is going to probably start at a 3rd round pick
and a prospect. The Flames could counter with a 2nd and a prospect
and probably win out.

“What kind of prospect? I
warned you about Bennett!”

Let’s say Reinhart for the
sake of argument. His ceiling is probably as a 4th line center, 3rd
line if everything breaks right for him. Would a 2nd round pick that
has a 17% chance to become an NHL player and a potential 4th line
center currently playing in the AHL sound like a good deal for a 2nd
pairing defenseman?

“For six weeks? No deal!”

Not quite. What you get in
the deal isn’t just six weeks of a 2nd pairing defenseman. You also
get several months of exclusive negotiations with that player, at this point
one that is likely to be one of the more interesting free-agents this summer.

A lot would depend on the
Flames re-signing Petry. They could do it, I believe. They have Wideman at a
cap hit of $5 million, Giordano at $4 and likely to go up to the $6 million
range or thereabouts. Brodie’s new $4.65 cap hit kicks in next season. Russell
is $2.6 million and Engelland and Smid both take up $6.6 million together.
Potter and Diaz come off the books this summer.The Flames would essentially be hitting the free-agent market during the current season, reaping the benefits now and perhaps even paying less by avoiding the inflated July prices. 

If you offered Petry five
years at $4 million, less than what Ehrhoff signed for this summer in
Pittsburgh, which would keep him under contract until he was 32, I think he’d
take it. He can’t expect more than $5 million on the open market and Calgary is
a team that I think could offer some incentives, with their recent record,
strong defense corps, and proximity to his former team that eschewed his
services. Petry is an intelligent, educated, but naturally conservative
personality. I think he’d look at a good cap number married to term in addition
to playing in relatively familiar geographical surroundings as positives.

Now how does a 2nd
and a prospect sound?

“Better, but it’ll take
awhile to wash the Oilers stink off. I’m still not happy we took Smid”

Granted, but keep in mind, Petry
made Smid look like a desirable asset to acquire.

Look at it this way, remember
how good it felt to rub Curtis Glencross in the Oilers’ faces?

“Heh, that was a lot of fun”

Exactly.

The Flames are playoff bound
this season (or at least it looks pretty much that way today). So this deal is
only one small part about today. Mostly it is about what next season’s
defensive roster would look like.

Giordano – Brodie
Petry – Wideman
Russell – Engelland
Smid

Swap numbers 6 and 7 to suit,
but that pushes Russell down to third pairing and limits Engelland and Smid in
TOI and quality of competition.

The Oilers are about to make
a terrible mistake. The Flames could capitalize at a reasonable initial cost
and a significantly reduced long-term impact.

It makes sense.