The Toronto Maple Leafs only made one move on deadline day in 2019, and it was to bring winger Nic Petan to Toronto from the Winnipeg Jets*, in exchange for sometimes fourth line centre Par Lindholm. Moving Lindholm gave Frederik Gauthier the bottom centre role, and bringing in Petan gave Justin Holl a friend to share the press box with.
I like to kid, but this move was about giving Justin a friend. Petan played only five games for the Maple Leafs after coming over from Winnipeg, and all were in the regular season.
If we include the games he played for the Jets*, Petan played a total of just 18 NHL games last season. So the question is, why the hell is he so high on this list?
Nic Petan Votes
There’s the potential that he has more that can still be unlocked. After he joined the Maple Leafs I had some questions for Cara over at Arctic Ice Hockey, which touched on this potential:
What are some of the strengths he can bring to a team?
Petan is a very skilled player. He has not played with other skilled players enough to determine if he can play in a role other than the fourth line, but he is great to have in your back pocket in case of injury. He is good at scoring in close to the net, if I remember correctly.
He was also #11 in the Jets* Top 25 Under 25 last year:
Petan, 23, had a successful season in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose last year, while his time with the Jets was less productive. Petan appeared in 15 games for the Jets, averaging 8:25 of ice per night, and netting two goals. His career numbers in the NHL aren’t much better, with 21 points in 95 games as things just haven’t clicked for whatever reason.
With the Moose, Petan averaged a point per game, scoring 52 points (15+37) in 52 games, one of only eight players in the league who average at least a point per game while playing more than 40 games. That is impressive point production at the pro hockey level, and indicates he should be able to do more in the NHL.
So, other people who have seen him play have good things to say about him. What else would give us the confidence to rank him so high at age 24 with so few NHL games played?
Well, management saw it in him right away, signing him to a two year deal less than a month after he joined the team.
Petan has played centre on the fourth line with Moore and Connor Brown during the latest road trip, after the team announced a foot injury to Frederik Gauthier would keep him from joining the trip. Petan played 10 minutes against Nashville and five against Buffalo the next night. Over the course of the two games, he was a positive shot differential player in attempts, shots, and scoring chances.
So do we just like the chance at a player? Are we obsessed with potential? The voters have some words to add, but mainly against the guy:
Fulemin: Thank you to our commenter Zone Entry, who has caused me to hear his name to the tune of the Spiderman theme song every time I see it. As for the player himself, Nic Petan is very much in “[whiny blog voice] just give him a chaaaaance” territory, but just give him a chance. He might be too good for the AHL and nothing more, but unlike some of those guys he’s actually cleared 100 NHL GP, and he showed more than his production looks like (his NHL point totals are kind of tragic.) Nic is nearing last chance territory and I would expect if he can’t get a look somewhere this year, he’ll be looking overseas. Still, he has talent, and I’d love for him to get an opportunity to employ it on alongside, say, Jason Spezza and Nick Shore. ♪Nic Petan/Nic Petan/Plays if Babcock thinks he can/He could add//With some time/a modest amount of complementary offence and solid shot differentials on a modern fourth line♪
Brigstew: Petan’s another guy where I don’t really know what to think of him. He was used sparingly, but I’ve heard from people whose opinion I trust that he has some upside. But the top 9 for the Leafs seems pretty locked, and Petan couldn’t beat out Trevor Moore or Frederik Gauthier for a spot as a 4th line center OR winger when games mattered. The Leafs just signed ALL of the fourth line depth at both center and wing, so where does he fit? I have no idea if he’ll grab one of the spots for the NHL or get waived or traded.
Daniel: Petan surprised me by being ranked so high. I had him pegged as a guy who maybe is a 4th liner this year, likely not even that (though is slightly better than and should play over Gauthier, which is damning with faint praise, and I ranked him as such). He might have the potential to be more, but ultimately he’s barely played, has barely done anything when he has, and doesn’t look likely to play moving forward. I like him, he’s an NHL player, he’s on my list, but his future looks bleak with the organization so it was hard for me to rank him above some Marlies guys who look like they could be longer term options.
Katya: Petan is a weird player to rank. He’s both a known quantity as a 24-year-old capable of convincing depth play in the NHL, which ranks him over the AHLers who are barely younger and aren’t better than he was on the Moose. But he’s also still a prospect in the sense that he’s been put in press box stasis for so long, there might be undiscovered depth there. He’s got this tantalizing history as a goal-scorer, more impressive than Trevor Moore’s. There’s a legitimate reason to believe he is the rare player about whom ‘hasn’t been given a fair chance’ might actually be true. We might be overrating him on hope that this is true, but hope is free.
Me? I had him ranked 19th, as a guy who could be in the NHL and be good, could be in the AHL and be a top line player again, could be living in the pressbox and be the newest poster boy for wasted talent. We just don’t know right now.
Where will Nic Petan be by mid-season?
This poll is closed
Maple Leafs bottom six darling
Press box hero