a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Monday, 19 March 2012

03/19/12 Expendability

Apparently, the emergence of Jeff Petry is what made former Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert expendable at the trade deadline. It's true that the two have similar styles, but how does Petry stack up?

In order to answer that question let's have a look back at Gilbert's rookie season with the Oilers back in 2007-08 and compare their results. Technically Petry was a rookie last year, having appeared in 35 games with the Oilers, which is ten more than the limit for being considered a rookie in the NHL. Gilbert played 12 games with Edmonton in 2006-07, which is why the following season was his rookie year. Both played college hockey, and they are similar in age when it comes to the timing of their pro careers. Gilbert started the 2007-08 season at 24 years old, and Petry was 24 to start this year.

Ice Time

Gilbert 2007-08:

22:11 per game (4th on Oilers)
17:24 even strength (3rd)
2:31 penalty kill (8th)
2:15 powerplay (10th)

Petry 2011-12:

21:36 per game (1st on Oilers)
18:05 even strength (1st)
2:16 penalty kill (6th)
1:13 powerplay (13th)

The Oilers used 11 defensemen in 2007-08. Sheldon Souray was on the team, but he played in just 26 games, and this was the year before Lubomir Visnovsky came to town. In terms of total minutes played on the year Gilbert led the defense, followed closely by Steve Staios. That should give some indication as to how thin the defense was for most of the season.

Eleven defenders have been used at various times by the Oilers this season as well. Ladislav Smid is leading the pack in total ice time of the defense, but Petry is second and he's played eight fewer games.


Gilbert 2007-08:

13-20-33 in 82 games

Petry 2011-12:

2-17-19 in 64 games

Over an 82 game span Petry is on pace for around 24 points, which would put him a little bit off the pace that Gilbert kept as a rookie. The goal scoring in particular is a glaring difference, but it should be noted that since that season Gilbert has never scored more than six goals in a given year. His shooting percentage (13.3%) was more than double what he's averaged since 2007-08.

"Real Time" Stats

Gilbert 2007-08:

27 hits
159 blocked shots
74 giveaways
33 takeaways

Over 82 games, Petry would have:

140 hits
132 blocked shots
101 giveaways
42 takeaways

Petry is a much more physical force than Gilbert was, which frankly is an upgrade. The other stats are all close enough to not be major downgrades at the same point in their two careers (and Petry had more takeaways).


What do these stats mean? There's no way to judge two different players on two almost completely different teams and say definitively which one is going to be better based on early returns. What we do know, however, is that Petry is close enough to how good Tom Gilbert was a number of seasons ago to call them a good comparison. That means that the Oilers have a few development years left to wait before Petry can handle every situation like Gilbert can. Petry may have more upside in the end, but it will be almost 300 games before we know for sure.

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