December 6, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
PENTICTON, B.C. -- It's another level up, this gathering of the top prospects of five different NHL organizations for the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars Classic for five days.
But it appears to be the same old story when it comes to Winnipeg Jets draft pick Nic Petan -- underestimate him at your peril.
The native of Delta, B.C., is only 18 years old, and yes, small at 5-9. Old news there.
But as part of the Jets' crew and future, Petan has been involved and effective on the ice here.
And early in the process, he has endeared himself to those in decision-making positions.
After Friday's 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks, in which he had an assist and was plus-one, the second-round pick from last June's draft was singled out by both Keith McCambridge, the St. John's IceCaps coach handling the Jets bench at the tournament, and the organization's top hockey official, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
McCambridge, who put Petan on a line with fellow 2013 pick J.C. Lipon and tryout Mitch Theoret, said he loved watching Petan's in-game thought process and how the puck always seemed to be on his stick or nearby.
And Cheveldayoff, not normally disposed to hype of any kind, was happy to volunteer some praise for the young centre, saying he really liked what he saw.
"He had a very strong game (Friday)," the GM said before Saturday's game against the Edmonton Oilers. "As a junior player, he's certainly someone who's put up tremendous numbers and earned the opportunity that he got to be drafted.
"It was very exciting to watch his game. He's someone that when the puck is on his stick, you're always looking for something to happen and something generally does happen."
Petan, who had 120 points and shared the WHL scoring crown last season, seems to prefer a poker face when asked about his early days in the Jets organization, but granted that he feels like he belongs.
"Maybe a little bit," he said. "I'm starting to get that a little bit right now, get into my comfort zone. I'm looking forward to keeping going with that, keep making those plays."
There would seem to be no reason Petan doesn't figure to contribute, at least at this level of competition. Even at last season's elite junior event, the Memorial Cup, he had 10 points in five games as his Portland Winterhawks finished second.
"I think it's similar in level," Petan said. "There's a lot of guys that played in the same league as me. You do compare yourself to the rest of the guys out there but it's all about working hard, basically, and see how you fit."
The fit, given size considerations, could be a big factor in Petan's future in the Jets' organization.
If it was up to him, who would play on his forward line?
"Just guys who could be playmakers, guys who can pass the puck back and find open lanes and read a lot of things," he said. "That's kind of my game as well. So playmakers and guys with abilities to make passes."
Which is one reason Petan matched so well last season in Portland with Winnipegger Brendan Leipsic, with whom he shared the WHL scoring title.
"I think he's a guy who's similar to me, a guy who puts passes on the tape and knows where you are. That's chemistry and it's always nice to have."
Of course, the tests will keep on coming for Petan, especially when the Jets' regular training camp opens Wednesday in Winnipeg. But so far, his instincts and skill have made a mark and the beginning of the case for the draft selection.
Powered by Sports Direct Inc.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 8, 2013 B2