The Winnipeg Jets wrapped up their portion of the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, B.C. with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Edmonton Oilers. This tournament gave an opportunity for the prospects to show their stuff to management against similar prospects from different organizations. One player who stood out for the Jets was Nic Petan.
The Jets second round pick in the 2013 NHL draft impressed observers with his offensive flair, deft passing and uncanny vision on the ice. At times, its seemed like Petan had a sixth sense as he was always a step ahead of the opposition.
This won’t come as a surprise to fans of the Portland Winterhawks. Petan has been outstanding for the Western Hockey League club, tallying 95 goals and 174 assists in 198 games for the Winterhawks. In the 2013 WHL playoffs, Petan was a main cog in the Hawks wheel, recording 9 goals and 19 assists as Portland captured the WHL championship.
Some consider Petan a long-shot to make the NHL because of his size. Standing 5-9 and weighing a slight 166 pounds, teams were scared off because they thought Petan wouldn’t be able to handle the bigger defencemen that patrol NHL rinks. They also said the same thing about Martin St. Louis and he’s proved them wrong over a splendid 14 year career.
Victorious Over Vancouver
Petan was at his best in the game against the Vancouver Canucks. The diminutive yet dynamic scored a spectacular overtime winner that left observers in awe and wonderment.
Petan continued his heroics against the Oilers by scoring in the shootout along with 2014 first round pick Nikolaj Ehlers to give the Jets the victory.
Is Petan Ready For The NHL?
Despite his immense talent in that small frame, it is the small frame that will rule the day. Petan will need another year in Portland to hone his game. The Jets are hoping that another year in the WHL will help Petan in the defensive aspects while not losing any of his wondrous skill.
I'll keep reminding people that AGM Craig Heisinger insisted on drafting Nic Petan because us short guys have to stick together. #NHLJets
— randy turner (@randyturner15) September 15, 2014
I'm no scout but watching this game, I don't see Nic Petan as serious contender to make #Jets roster this year. Small, not great skater.
— Larry Fisher (@LarryFisher_KDC) September 13, 2014
The Jets also have developed a reputation of keeping players in junior or the minors for further development. The likes of Mark Scheifele, Adam Lowry, Austen Brassard and Scott Kosmachuk are either plying their trade with St. John’s in the AHL, or still riding the buses in junior. The Jets are in no hurry to rush any of their coveted future players to the show.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff reiterated this in an interview with Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press:
“The fact that we’ve said from Day 1 we were going to employ a draft-and-develop model to continue to grow the franchise, that’s something that hasn’t changed. It’s been consistent message to from the beginning and we’ve been fortunate to maybe have seen the acceleration of it in a couple of players like Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba and here again, the great part of training camp is now you get to see if some of these players are ready to push themselves and make that step as well.
But I can’t force them to be ready. They have to be ready. And if they are, we’ll find ways to integrate them. And if they’re not, we’ll continue to be patient with their growth and look at other ways to fill things out.”
So while Petan has shown flashes of brilliance, it is widely expected that he will play another season in Portland. If Petan shows continued development, the answer next year might be different.
I share season tickets for the Winnipeg Jets since their return to the Manitoba capital in 2011. I have written about the Jets since 2011 on various sites.