The Oilers blue line has been very thin in recent years, and continues to hold them back from finally emerging as a contender in the West. But Jeff Petry's continuing maturation has the future looking brighter in northern Alberta already.
Petry appears to be solid workhorse at even strength and on the penalty kill, pairing well with Ladislav Smid. He fills in on the power play when needed. He is a mobile and well balanced skater with good athleticism. The son of Dan Petry - a former pitcher for the Detroit Tigers - has good size though he is not an aggressive blue line presence. He has a heavy shot when he gets to use it, and can sneak into the slot, surprising the other team.
Petry seems to have some strong offensive instincts, but he almost forces it too much still. What made me really notice him is he makes some really impressive reads with his passes, knifing through opposition set-ups (hence the title of the article). But sometimes those passes are a little too hard, handcuffing the receiver. Perhaps he has a simpler play, or if he could ever soften those passes a touch, then Jeff Petry will have reached full maturation as a NHL defenseman. As it stands now he continues to play a riskier game than he needs to.
I, for one, will be watching the progress of Jeff Petry's career with a little more curiosity from now on.