Petry made Oilers trade possible

The Oilers expect Jeff Petry to develop into a defenceman with offensive punch. (QMI Agency)

The Oilers expect Jeff Petry to develop into a defenceman with offensive punch. (QMI Agency)

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:37 PM ET

It took just 89 NHL games for the Edmonton Oilers to decide that Jeff Petry can be the next Tom Gilbert.

That’s quick. Too quick, perhaps, for some, who believe the Oilers could have waited until the summer to trade Gilbert, when more suitors are in play and they’d have even more information on Petry, but the brass says it’s seen enough.

“Petey has stepped up and keeps improving,” said Tom Renney. “We weren’t sure how this season was going to go for him, but it was arrow up really quick.

“With his size and range and the ability to use his range defensively, he’s shown a growth. Has it forced our hand? I guess that’s a question more for management.”

Make no mistake, Gilbert for Nick Schultz doesn’t happen unless less Petry makes No. 77 expendable in the eyes of Steve Tambellini.

“With experience and playing the big minutes, the confidence has grown just from that alone,” said the 24-year-old, who went 45th overall to Edmonton in 2006. “Playing the big minutes does help. You don’t have time to think about the mistakes you made, you’re right back out there.”

He has 17 points in 54 games (the same number Gilbert had in 47), with 10 of them coming in the last 18 games. While Gilbert’s numbers are trending down (45, 31 and 26 in the previous three seasons), Petry seems to be trending up, although it’s a very small sample size.

“It’s something that over the last month, month and half my offensive game is starting to pick up and starting to feel comfortable,” he said. “I’m not afraid to make a mistake, or to jump into the play.”

A top four offensive defenceman with the Oilers, capable of 45 points a year?

“I think he has the offensive ability,” said Renney. “It’s a little dormant, still, but as his confidence grows and we put him in situations and invite more from him I think he can help that.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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