Lennart Petrell returns to the Edmonton Oilers

Jonathan Willis
June 19 2012 11:12AM

This morning the Edmonton Oilers announced via their official Twitter feed that pending unrestricted free agent Lennart Petrell had been signed to a one-year contract extension.

The team did not announce financial terms of the deal, though it seems probable that Petrell will earn something close to the $900,000 he got on his first contract – my guess would be that he gets a little less but that it’s a one-way deal, meaning that the money is guaranteed.

Petrell had some nice points playing as a fourth-line forward last year. He brings good size and a willingness to play a physical game to the table, as well as excellent work on the penalty kill. He struggled at times five-on-five – particularly when it came to producing offensively – but he’s a serviceable defense-first energy player.

Late last month I suggested that Petrell’s good points weren’t quite enough to compensate for his struggles 5-on-5, but there are ways to mitigate those struggles. In Vancouver, Alain Vigneault has made good use of players like Petrell by deploying his fourth line as a specialty unit that only plays in the defensive zone – and between Petrell and Eric Belanger, the Oilers have two pieces well-suited to that sort of work. It will be interesting to see how the Oilers use the big Finn next season.

In any case, as an end of roster option it’s hard to be particularly critical of Petrell. He fills a role, and as an older veteran can be shuffled in and out of the lineup without much concern, and seeing the signing today I’ll admit that I wasn’t at all disappointed at the thought of him spending another season with the Oilers.

A special bonus to the Petrell signing? More Petrell-related hilarity at the Twitter feed of the Oilers’ Russian captain, Shawn Horcov. Horcov was thrilled with today’s signing, declaring: “Was just talk to Petrell on phone. Are giggling like schoolgirls Komrades. Oh shenanigans and hijinks and capers we will do for next year.”

This week by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.