There was plenty of talk prior to the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championships on the role Nic Petan would play for Team Canada. Would he play alongside Connor McDavid, the young sensation expected to go first overall in the draft? Or would he centre the third line and play a more defensive role while adding some offensive flair to the bottom six? So far, it hasn’t mattered.
Leading The Way
Through two games, Petan leads the tournament in scoring with 1 goal and 5 assists while playing dual roles for head coach Benoit Groulx. While fans of the Portland Winterhawks aren’t surprised by Petan’s exploits, it does come as a small surprise for Team Canada. After all, this team is loaded with talented snipers such as McDavid, Curtis Lazar, Anthony Duclair and Max Domi. But so far, it has Petan who has shone.
Nic Petan had over 100 points his last two years in junior, Robby Fabbri had 60 goals last year. They're on Canada's third line… #nowwego
— Cristo (@Anthonycristo19) December 26, 2014
The Winnipeg Jets second round pick in the 2013 pick has been on a line with Robby Fabbri and Nick Paul for the most part and they’ve been excelling as a trio. Fabbri in particular as enjoyed success on this line, netting 2 goals and 2 assists in the first two games.
Cheveldayoff Is Impressed
All this talk about Petan has to make the fans and management of the Winnipeg Jets very excited. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has raved about Petan’s development at both the offensive and defensive zone. Last summer, Cheveldayoff spoke with Shane Malloy and Russ Cohen from the Sirius NHL Radio Hockey Prospect Show and said this about Petan.
“The key words are hockey sense and compete and those two types of things don’t have any boundaries when it comes to height or weight, and he scores very high on both of those things. While it is trending towards the bigger man’s game, I really believe when you have an elite level of hockey sense and the compete that he does, in our organization he’s going to fit in nicely.”
Even though the Jets are currently sitting in a playoff spot, they would only benefit with Petan’s presence next season. His vision, elite passing skills and soft hands are at NHL level. A terrific example of that vision is this tape-to-tape pass to Max Domi in stride. It is a thing of beauty.
Size Shouldn’t Matter
While his small stature does work against him, there isn’t any doubt that Petan has an excellent chance at cracking the Winnipeg Jets roster next season. A shooter like Evander Kane for example, would greatly benefit from the playmaking abilities of Petan.
Granted, the 5-9, 166 pound centre could very well start next season with St. John’s in the AHL, but his long-term future will be with the Jets.
Really impressed with Nic Petan. The #NHLJets might have a beauty there.
— Tom Pirozzi (@TPirozzi) December 28, 2014
For now, the hockey world especially Canada, can enjoy watching him utilize his impeccable skills at the World Junior Tournament. If Canada does end its five-year drought and captures the gold medal, Petan will continue to play a vital role for his country’s success.