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Petan didn't pout in Portland

Disappointed to be sent back to junior, but stayed upbeat

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/7/2015 (746 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

From the Winnipeg Jets' much-lauded stable of prospects, the two who received the longest, most serious looks at last fall's training camp were Nikolaj Ehlers and Nic Petan.

It's difficult to see why that won't be the case again in September.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files  
Crafty centre Nic Petan was sent back to junior last year, where he came up big to excel with the Winterhawks.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files Crafty centre Nic Petan was sent back to junior last year, where he came up big to excel with the Winterhawks.

Petan, who went back to the WHL's Portland Winterhawks for a fourth full season, did not put it on coast for a year, even though he admitted he'd rather have been doing something else.

The crafty, 20-year-old centre scored 15 goals and had 74 assists in just 54 games, giving him a total of 358 career regular-season WHL points.

He went on to collect 28 playoff points for the third straight spring, giving him a total of 442 career points for the Winterhawks.

 

'You have to lead the guys, you have to talk to young guys and teach them the way it is'-- Jets prospect Nic Petan

Oh, and there was that bit at mid-season, where he scored four goals and 11 points to help Canada win a gold medal at the world juniors.

The numbers don't suggest Petan was bored last season.

"You've just got to embrace it, especially going back and getting named captain," he said Sunday at the MTS Iceplex after Day 3 of the Jets' development camp. "That was a whole different story for me.

"You have to lead the guys, you have to talk to young guys and teach them the way it is, and I thought I did that.

"I think I focused more of my energy on leading the team rather than on myself, like maybe in my draft year, my 17-year-old year.

"I just focused on that and played with two good linemates again, and we had a long run, so I'm not disappointed in my year, or our year. I thought it was a solid year.

"Although I didn't want to go back to junior, I did it and now I'm ready for the next step."

Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger said Sunday what most know but are sometimes timid about saying.

"He's been a dynamic player since he started with the Portland Winterhawks, and he was a dynamic player when he finished with them," Heisinger said. "I'm sure he's happy his junior career is over, as are we, and that he gets an opportunity to turn pro and see what he can do at the next level.

"We're excited to see what he can do come Jets training camp."

Last year's training-camp experience was a major positive, Petan said.

It included an average of nearly 15 minutes per game in six exhibition appearances (the Jets played seven) and included a goal against the Minnesota Wild.

"I'd say (it was worth) a couple of things," Petan said. "First was experience. You get to see how the guys act and how they get ready for games and how the atmosphere is, whether it's exhibition or regular season. Obviously regular season is more important, but pre-season, you get the taste, you get to see what it's like.

"I played (against) a couple of full rosters, against Minnesota, which was a great experience for me. It was a great crowd.

"Going back this year, I'm going to know more things. And I think that'll help me out and help my confidence out."

Heisinger suggested Sunday last year's tale was just that.

"I think the players earn those looks," he said. "I don't think we go into anything with preconceived notions. I think the players earn what they get. That's been our mantra for years, and I don't see that changing."

Petan's not sitting still on that, or his excellent final junior season.

He'll be training regularly at home in Vancouver, trying to enjoy a bit of summer and building even more confidence.

He came to this development camp able to add another check-mark there.

"The summer plan up to this development camp was to eat as much as I could and gain as much weight as I could," he said. "I'm up 10 pounds (to 175) and I'm excited about that. I still feel as quick as I was before. My quickness hasn't gone anywhere."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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