As the son of a former major league baseball player and current coach, new San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis didn’t get to share his NFL moment with his father Friday night.
That’s because Gary Pettis, who played 11 seasons in the majors, was busy coaching third base for the Houston Astros against the Oakland Athletics as the NFL draft’s second round was playing out.
The Pettis family athletic legacy isn’t limited to Gary and Dante Pettis. Dante’s cousin, Austin, also was a wide receiver and a 2011 third-round pick of the then-St. Louis Rams. Dante’s brother, Kyler, is currently an actor appearing on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” Dante said having a professional athlete as a father only helped guide the way to his own journey to the NFL.
“It was awesome growing up,” Dante said. “I’ve been around professional sports my whole life. I already have the lay of the land. Obviously, football is a little bit different than baseball, but for the most part, it’s still a professional sport. They all go about their business pretty much the same way. I’m just excited to actually be here now.”
There were only 34 Russian skaters in the NHL last season, but five of the NHL’s top 20 scorers hail from that country. Fourteen of the Russians in the NHL had at least 30 points last season as well. Teams will continue making gambles on these players in the draft.
The safety net is that once a player is drafted out of the Russian system, the team basically holds his draft rights in perpetuity due to the lack of a formal player agreement between the NHL and KHL. When that player wants to come over, if he ever does, his options are often limited to the team that drafted him, unless a trade can be made.
There are quite a few intriguing prospects who recently completed their KHL seasons and are worth tracking a little more closely. Some are under KHL contract for a few more years, and while it used to be moderately common for a player to buy out the remainder of his contract to bolt to the NHL, it is my understanding that is no longer a viable option in most cases. Therefore, we’re seeing more players stay in Russia longer than they might have in the past.