Time for Wreckum?

The Edmonton Oilers signed D Theo Peckham this week. Capgeek has the numbers ($550,000 salary and cap hit at the big league level, $65,000 in the AHL).

With a very reasonable end-of-the roster contract, the risk of being lost on waivers, and a less than formidable depth chart one would assume Peckham can win the day with a solid training camp.

While he was still head coach, Pat Quinn said "when I first saw him (in an Oilers uniform), the scouting report was that he was a tough kid who didn’t really know how to play. When he came back (on his most recent call-up), he showed us that he had a little bit more than just being a tough guy. As he played and gained our confidence, he was gaining his own as well. They were really good minutes for him."

Tom Renney (in an interview after being bumped to the head job) said much the same, implying Peckham impressed and they were looking forward to seeing him healthy and ready in the fall at training camp. This would be a reasonable depth chart (with the top 8D’s making the lineup): 

  1. Tom Gilbert
  2. Ryan Whitney
  3. Sheldon Souray (trade block)
  4. Ladislav Smid
  5. Kurtis Foster
  6. Jim Vandermeer
  7. Jason Strudwick
  8. Theo Peckham (waiver eligible)
  9. Shawn Belle
  10. Taylor Chorney
  11. Richard Petiot
  12. Alex Plante
  13. Jeff Petry
  14. Johan Motin
  15. Jordan Bendfeld

Your list may vary, but that seems reasonable to me. Peckham has all kinds of room to move up on this list: Strudwick could be moved up front if he loses the competition, or he could retire and enter the coaching ranks; Vandermeer cleared waivers in June and can do it in the fall; Smid could falter when he takes on tougher minutes beginning in 10-11 (likely replaced by Foster) and Souray could be traded which may open up a slot in the top 6D depending on the return. Lots of room to maneuver for "Wreckum."

There is some competition below him on the depth chart, but Peckham has a strong case over the following: Belle isn’t the same waiver concern so could be sent down with less worry; Chorney proved he needs more time to work on the defensive aspects of the game; Petry is a wild card who could jump the group but the organization has stated they want their prospects to progress along very specific check points (one being the AHL). The same could apply for Plante and Motin.

A prospect like Theo Peckham may never get another chance this good: he’s impressed the incoming coach who is looking for exactly what he brings and the organization believes he may be able to handle a larger role based on the most recent viewing. If he shows up at TC ready to kick out the jams, Theo Peckham’s NHL career might be well established one year from now.

  • EasyOil

    If he performs well enough in camp by all means keep him. I wouldn’t want to see him make the team just because of waiver eligibility though.

    He hasn’t been very good in the NHL to date, and there is no reason to believe he will have figured it out over the last off season.

    I think there is a pretty good chance of him clearing waivers even if he is sent down. Pretty much every NHL team now has 5-7 Dmen already on their big roster, and they all have their own prospects to look at, as well as the fact that there are a bunch of UFAs still floating around to be signing.

    Peckham is just another guy in the herd of waiver eligible defenders this season. Even if someone did grab him off the wire, the Oilers could always just go out and pick a comparable player right back. Calgary for example has 8 defencemen on one-ways, and have Pelech and Baldwin that need to clear waivers.

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      Did Daum ever actually say his conditioning was a problem and it was because of his injury, or did he just say he was under conditioned and the rest of the world assumed it was due to injury?

  • EasyOil

    @Max Powers

    Yeh that seems to say a lot about his work ethic and desire to do well, which is why I was surprised with the reports about his conditioning this year. Now whether that was just the coaches saying he had trouble getting back in to shape because of his injury or just generally not trying to get back in to shape I don’t know.

    Either way, with him, Whitney, Smid and Plante (down the line) manning the blue, we should hopefully have a tough, if not the most offensively gifted D corps (although Whitney and Gilbert are pretty good options, with Foster not looking too shabby if he can keep up with his current form).

    Talking about Plante, I hear many conflicting reports about whether he tends to be a defensive or an offensive D-man, or is he a 2-way guy? Being from the UK, I only know about these guys mostly from highlight reels and various blogs! Doesn’t help that ESPN UK hardly ever shows the Oilers, although I’m sure that Hall and company should help our cause!

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      I’m with you on being surprised to hear about Peckham showing up out of shape last year. Especially someone who seems to have a good attitude. It couldn’t be too bad if the coaches are still high on him this year, which would mean it was probably just an immature mistake from an immature player. Maybe he waited too long to start getting into camp shape or didn’t work on cardio when he could have or something. Regardless, it seems as if the organization likes him and sees him in the future.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Man, what a difference one game can make. I was high on this guy too, until i seen him live in a pre-season game last year. Boy was he outclassed. Since seeing him that one time I’ve been trying to find reasons as to why he should stay in the bigs, but I haven’t. The only positives of this guy I’ve seen (lately) has been on paper. I wonder about his puck skills. I guess I “saw him bad”.

    I’m really hoping for a good year from this guy cause I wanna like him.

    • Bar Qu

      Which is why we remember that unless you are talking the Drew Doughty class of defenders, teams need to give a quality prospect many, many games to develop. Defence seems the most difficult position to translate from minors to the pro leagues (AHL or NHL) and it takes even good defenders a few years to ‘get it’.

      Go get ’em Peckham. I look forward to a good year (relatively speaking).

  • EasyOil

    Muchos grazias LT. I’ve long been looking forward for Peckham to make the team full time and I hope this is the year. From the moment he played his first game in an Oil jersey and bowled over Jared Boll everyone knew he had something the team has sorely lacked in recent years.

  • Velo

    Like what this guy brings. Hope he can gain confidence and hold it together back there. There is a chance that he struggles…then we’re in a pickle, as sending him down is presumably the loss of a decent player/prospect to another team. However, with the chart as you drew it up, LT, he’s in there…and with an injury or two, he’s in there for good.

  • DoubleJ

    I heard the story that Peckham during the combine testing he was ranked to go in the 5th round. But, because he went so hard that he puked at the end of his test. The Oilers noticed and picked him in the third round.

    Peckham was one of the first guys to push himself to the point of getting sick. He pushed himself from round 5 up to round 3. During the combine all the agents started telling their guys to at least fake getting sick. Now every prospect who goes through the combine gets sick. It started with Peckham.

    He’s a guy who never takes a shift off, and I hope he makes the team this year.

  • Lowetide

    Here is the ISS Scouting report for Peckham:

    Peckham entered the OHL as a 14th round pick out of AA hockey and has worked his way up to becoming a favorite at ISS.

    He has been fearless since his rookie season and was willing to fight all comers. In today’s game toughness alone won’t make a prospect, so he went out this year and became a more complete player.

    Although he has limited offensive upside, we feel he understands his limitations and avoids mistakes while playing to his strengths.

    We feel he should become a regular player in the NHL.

  • EasyOil

    Anyone have wreckum’s draft-day scouting report? Would be interested to see what was thought of him then and if he’s progressed along the right track…

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      Don’t have a report, but I was watching clips on the combine from that year and they did mention at the end that Theo Peckham had made a good impression on scouts with his impressive output.

      It says a lot about an impression a player made when the wrap up is all about the top 5 prospects (Kessel, Staal, Johnson, Brassard, Toews) and a mention of someone who’s supposed to go in the 5th (or wherever he was ranked).

  • All signs point to yes when it comes to Theo Peckham having a job to lose, at least based on his waiver eligibility. Not certain he’s fully ready, yet… I would think he could use a tad more seasoning, but its also possible he can get that here.

  • Tha Legion

    Woot I love Theo! My THEOry is that he cracks the bottom pairing, he will make the occational annoying error ala Matt Greene but will flourish as the man who’s smile I want to punch/defensive player.