Nic Petan is one of the most interesting players on the Winnipeg Jets. His numbers in juniors are stunning and his skill is evident in the NHL; however, Paul Maurice and his coaching staff seem to be unwilling to give him the minutes that he needs to further develop as a player. There were many games where Petan was languishing on the fourth line unable to produce offence. While it is fair to expect a player of his pedigree to produce offence, he has to be put in a situation to do so and playing alongside Chris Thorburn is not that situation.
Herein lies the struggle with evaluating Petan: he has not done much at the NHL level to be given the opportunity to produce, but he needs to be given the opportunity to produce to show that he cannot actually provide desperately needed offence. It’s a bit of a catch-22. He needs to be given the time and the linemates needed to produce, but he needs to earn the right to play with good players. You see the problem here?Petan is a good player, but has not proven it at the NHL level. He needs to be given that chance because when he is played in real minutes, he comes through for the Jets and helps them win. This was evident when the Jets had that rash of injuries at the start of the season. Petan played well and produced; it stopped when guys came back.
As you can see, when Petan played in the top six at the start of the season, he was very good. He was able to help push the offensive play and therefore helped the Jets score. As soon as players started coming back he was relegated to the bottom six and it shows in his results. You can see when he was put with fourth liners and expected to produce at a NHL level. Chris Thorburn and Nic Petan are as good together as linemates as oil and water. Petan might have done well switching places with Lowry, but Lowry was given precedence over Petan, yet Petan has had the better results over time exempting the NHL.
This does not include his usage on the powerplay. While he struggled there sometimes, he also had moments where he shone. There was one goal in particular where he and Tobias Enstrom worked together to set up Patrik Laine for a gorgeous goal. Is that what Petan can be when given the chance or was that an aberration in play? There are so many questions to be answered about Petan, that it is hard to know where to start.
What should happen with Petan next season? Should he be given a shot with better players or should he remain a fourth liner and healthy scratch? Should the Jets explore trading him in the offseason or is his potential too good to let go of? Remember, he is exempt from the expansion draft protection list.