How does Theo Peckham fit in on the 2013 Edmonton Oilers?

When the Oilers traded for Mark Fistric, it was good news for the team because it added a reliable, penalty-killing veteran who plays the game with a physical edge. It was bad news for Theo Peckham, since penalty-killing and a physical edge were the two things he added from his spot at the bottom of the defensive depth chart.

Peckham was activated off injured reserve by the Oilers on Tuesday. Now he’s likely the eighth defenceman, competing for a third-pairing job with Ryan Whitney, Corey Potter and Mark Fistric. Is there something he can do that the others can’t?

Well, there is one thing. Peckham himself hinted at it in a recent conversation with the Edmonton Journal’s Joanne Ireland:

[W]hen they put me in, I’m going to try and give them something they don’t have. I’ll try and be that mean player that I am.

Peckham is not going to displace either Ryan Whitney or Corey Potter as a puck-mover, and his career to date doesn’t suggest that he’s a better defensive option than Mark Fistric. What could set him apart, however, is his willingness to fight.

Fistric has eight regular season fights in his NHL career, according to Peckham had 10 as a rookie alone, and regularly cracked double-digits during his junior career. With Ben Eager concussed and Darcy Hordichuk generally absent from the lineup, that ability to drop the gloves might give Peckham the edge he needs to stay in the game.

Peckham undoubtedly knows that. His contract expires this season, and with a bunch of young defenceman coming in his spot on the Oilers is in definite jeopardy. Coming off a poor season, and starting this shortened year on injured reserve, he’s in a tough spot.

Making things tougher is Peckham’s concussion history. Peckham suffered his first NHL concussion in a fight with Nathan Horton in March of his rookie season; Horton caught him with a right and dropped him, costing Peckham eight games. Peckham described trouble focusing, blurry vision, and headaches.

A puck to the face cost Peckham 15 games in the second half of 2012, though Peckham indicated that particular injury did not cause a concussion. He was in the lineup for less than a month before taking a hit from then-Columbus captain Rick Nash; despite quickly returning to the ice after the hit it was later determined that he was concussed on the play. That finished him for the season.

My guess is that even with the injury history, Peckham fights. It’s the one thing – short of an unlikely spike in his performance – that can keep him competitive for a spot on the roster.

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  • Reality Check to the head

    I hope for Teds sake that he is not there to fight.

    Boxers with a concussion history go down and out with a blow that looks like it hardly touched them.

    If the oilers are sending him out to fight they will be irresponsible

  • 106 and 106

    “Competing for a third-pairing job with Ryan Whitney, Corey Potter and Mark Fistric.”

    Has Whitney fallen that far that he’s competing with Corey Potter?

  • Peckham was a really exciting rookie in this league. He added a dimension to the team that we sorely needed (still need). I wonder if that was coached out of him or if he actually changed his game in an attempt to improve/morph into something he never was. Hopefully he can simply flip the switch and get back to the rambunctious player he once was. From time to time, this style gets a defenseman in trouble positionally but it also a huge deterent for teams to float through the defensive zone – something that has been a big issue so far this season.

  • Phixieus666

    I must say I’m confounded why this is even a discussion. If you look at Mark Fistric’s game, he did well. His history is that of being more dependable than all of Theo, Potter, and now Whitney. Why would the Oilers add an out of shape, concussion prone fighter (now there’s a phrase)who is positionally challenged to the lineup? Even worse, if there was some reason which made sense on this planet (photos of Tamby?) that he was going to play, why wouldn’t the team start him off with a 2 week conditioning assignment? If no photos, then why not waive/assign and get him playing and bring up in an emergency? What’s going on here?

  • This could be a recipe for disaster for the long term health of Theo Peckham post-hockey.

    Faced in a desperation season needing to show something different to stay alive on the roster I fear peckham will do to much and could in fact risk his life.

    Given the recent studies and demonstration what blows to the head does in the NFL, NHL players are even more at risk.

    If Peckham gets another concussion there are other potential risk factors at play – depression, addiction to pain killers, suicide

    Unfortunately, nobody is going to tell him this, nor would he want to hear it as it will affect his mental physce going into games but it is a definite concern.

    How about mirror Smids game as a tough immovable object in front of his net that blocks a gazillion shots.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I agree with you completely…

      except that Smid and Peckham are worlds away in terms of positioning, speed, reading the play, clearing the zone, etc.

      Peckham should pick a more reasonable ideal… Fistric comes to mind.

    • I completely agree. This could end very badly for Peckham.

      Unfortunately due to his poor fitness and apparent lack of commitment he has fallen off the depth chart. Now the only way he is going to stick around is by providing that physical edge and doing some fighting when needed. Peckham knows what he has to do to stick and will answer the call when he has to, that much we know.

      If he gets in over his head or gets another concussion his career could be over.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    He should have been sent to OKC for two weeks.

    It gives him a chance to get his sea legs without feeling the pressing need to make his mark and end his career. And, it solves — albeit temporarily — the logjam at D on the 23 man roster.

    Ultimately, Theo has done this to himself. Two years ago he showed he could have been more than a goon D with PK ability fighting for a 7 spot. Instead of grasping the brass ring and working for it, he chose sloth.

    It is incredibly depressing that he is reduced to forfeiting his health and future in order to impress (who?) for a very brief period of time.

  • A-Mc

    Looks like we have too many guys fighting for that 6th spot. Injury or trade are the only way these guys are going to get to play. IMO the end result should be Whitney/Fistric as our 5/6.

    Peckham or Potter for a 3rd round pick?

    Next year we’ll have a couple more D looking to fill in, one of which is Teubert (who, again, is likely better than Peckham and still has that physical aspect w/o the concussion issues). And lets not forget the guy we’ve all been waiting for: Klefbom!

    Looks like Tambolini is going to have a few people to move at the trade deadline depending on where the Oilers sit in the standings.

    • K-UGER Industrial Smoothing

      I was in Penticton for the Oilers rookie camp 2 years ago. Teubert got into a scrap with Darren Archibald (if memory serves me right). Anyway, Teubert got popped right on the button and went down, missed the next few weeks with a concussion.

      Secondly. Peckham/Potter for a 3rd round pick is a laughable suggestion, if Tambo could pull that off I’m sure he would have ages ago.

      But I would agree with you that come trade deadline this might be the year the Oilers try and make a push, but they won’t sell the farm.

      • A-Mc

        ehh with all due respect, depending on the time of year – a 3rd rounder for either of those guys could definitely fly. So lets not call it laughable.

        The chances of a 2nd rounder even making the NHL are next to nothing, lets not even bother looking at the _approaching_Zero_ chances of a 3rd rounder.

        If a team needs an extra depth guy for a playoff run, a 3rd round pick is an easy give away.

        Also, just because Teubert has had a concussion doesn’t mean he has concussion problems. Peckham and Eager both have concussion problems and it only gets worse. Taylor hall has had a concussion too but i don’t consider him a concussion prone player. Lets not get too pedantic here please..

        • K-UGER Industrial Smoothing

          Unless you have never had a concussion, every player is more susceptible to brain injury than they were previous to the incident. When you consider that Teubert is considered a physical/defensive presence, the fact that he initiates contact more often than an Eberle-type player, the probability of him sustaining another head injury is only amplified.

          To quote Lincoln Park’s crappy song: “It starts with one”

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Sorry Teddy – Your lack of commitment to fitness and below average skill = Bye Bye.
    No lose here folks. I pulled for him , we all did i think, time to move on.

    • Phixieus666

      Now this is just me thinking out loud but. Peckham really doesn’t need to fight unless something major happens to a star player. What he does need to do is play tough hard physical game. Momentum can shift from a big body check as much as a fight.

      Now JW here is a thought, what if they occasionally slot him in as a winger on the 4th line? Kind of like what Byfuglien has done in the past. Would that make sense? He actually has a pretty decent wrist shot and as a forward he wouldn’t be as much of a defensive liability. Just wondering your thoughts on the subject

  • OilClog

    It’s hard to understand this guy, I would say the concussions are already playing a role in his decision making. You have a once in a lifetime chance to be on this talent loaded roster and do incredible things. Instead you gorge in bacon cheeseburgers (we all love bacon cheeseburgers), allow yourself to come to camp completely out of shape, and instead of improving hockey skill or smarts.. “I’ll just fight my way on”.. is the road he takes. Sad. Theo Peckham needs the heart of a Sam Gagner.

  • justDOit

    When Wreckem Peckham was first called up at the end of one season a few years ago, I thought he looked quite good despite being a squeaky new rookie. Not a world-beater by any means, but he showed promise and, most importantly, was BIG.

    I can’t remember who he was partnered with then (Struds?), but he didn’t over-think plays or try to do too much with the puck. He kept it simple, yet seemed to make pretty good little plays along the boards or when pressured. Keep in mind, that this was by eye, and totally just my impression over about 10 games or so. It was also the end of another exasperating season, and I may have been searching for hope in everything I viewed.

    Looking back at his subsequent showings in the roster, that was probably also the best shape he has been in. I guess the arc of his progression is a perfect example of how many ways a young player can be de-railed on his path to being a pro athlete. I hope that Theo doesn’t have to become a designated goon just to keep his dream alive.

  • Oilers21

    Great, he can fight. That will come in really handy with his :45 of ice time a night. I wish Theo all the best but didn’t we learn anything from the Steve McIntyre experiment? I have a really hard time buying into the “deterrent” argument

  • Tough to see a long term role for Peckham assuming EDM re-signs Fistric, I’m fine with the Oilers carrying 8 D for at least awhile this year – by the time Jones is ready to come off the IR, pretty unlikely one of the D isn’t hurt (hopefully not, of course, but I would imagine it would be pretty uncommon for a team to go 20 games without someone getting injured/IR’d). The depth is nice, and who knows, if another team runs into injuries maybe you get an offer you don’t mind for one of your depth D vs. waiving one of them now?

  • Spydyr


    As part of a trade package that brings either one of three things:

    A young goalie.

    A to 4 D-man.

    A gritty tough top 6 player.

  • Spydyr

    JW wrote:

    “When the Oilers traded for Mark Fistric, it was good news for the team because it added a reliable, penalty-killing veteran who plays the game with a physical edge. It was bad news for Theo Peckham, since penalty-killing and a physical edge were the two things he added from his spot at the bottom of the defensive depth chart.

    My guess is that even with the injury history, Peckham fights. It’s the one thing – short of an unlikely spike in his performance – that can keep him competitive for a spot on the roster.”

    The problem with Peckham’s physicality is it tends to come with a bunch of penalties. We’ll see what Kreuger took away from Hordichuk’s lineup appearance vs. Hartikainen, and see if that applies to Peckham as well, if he can’t keep his penalties in check vs. the alternatives.

  • 15w40

    I don’t get the obvious reluctance to insert Fistric into the line up. Look at all those years that Regher ran roughshod over the Oilers. Turning Hemsky and Gagner and any other little forward into wall paper. Fistric looked reliable in his one game and between Whitney, Petry, and Potter – that should be able to cover off the 2nd PP unit on the back end. Fistric can play on the PK and can punish people 5×5. Peckham to me is now the call up guy instead of Teubert. If the management thinks Teubert is better – then see what you can get for Peckham in a trade.

    One player that looks interesting is Jeff Schultz from the Capitals. Would hardly complicate things in the dressing room but if you look at that guys +/- over his career at any level it is good.


  • Phixieus666

    Peckham is needed in this lineup more often than not. My feeling is that Hodichuck has ecome an expendable asset. Why keep him if he is isn’t playing more than 1:30 minute. If I am Tambo I see a deal that moves Hordichuck with Potter. It makes no sense to retain Hordichuck when you could play Peckham 12-15 minutes and have him do essentially the same job. Potter is fodder for a deal for a team that needs a guy who can play 5-6 minutes. I do not think he has any gamesmanship or enough physicality. IMO.You need Peckham more than you need either of the other 2 in the lineup.

  • Apparently Peckham is only 2 or 3 pounds heavier than he was last year. Wasn’t the main reason he was out were hip flexors? Isn’t it fun to blow little things out of proportion.

    Either way, I could give 2 rabbit poops about a guy’s weight. All I care about is that he does what the coach wants.

    Unfortunately injuries derail the careers of a kabillion d-men each year. Is this it for Peckham? I hope not. Can you imagine a Peckham/Fistric pairing? Carnage! It would be fun to watch the other team constantly dump it in at the red line in fear!

    I’ve got my doubts, but I’m still rootin’ for ya Pecks.

  • I don’t think there is any room on the roster for Peckham. His skill set and foot speed fall way to short of what it takes to crack the Oilers lineup and his lack of discipline and poor puck decisions hurt the team on a regular basis. His willingness to fight is needed, but with the history he has of getting hurt is something nobody needs. We are better off with Fistric and Peckham is better off in OKC. Sending him there will benefit him more than anything else could. I think if the Oilers want to move up in the standings and take a real run at trying to make the Playoffs, then Peckham and Habby will not lend any confidence to the fans or the rest of the team.

  • vetinari

    I don’t see Peckham being able to play a skill game, and I don’t see him being able to play a “disciplined” physical game to not be a liability to the team. His lack of speed leaves him too often out of position and opposing forwards usually eat him alive one-on-one– and frankly, this edition of the team needs strong one-on-one defenders because they keep trading chances with the opposition on odd man rushes (good, “old time” hockey). This isn’t Peckham’s skill set.

    I suspect that he could be safely waived to the AHL or flipped for a mid to late draft pick without being missed too teribly by the big team.

    We’re carrying too many defencemen and he’s the most likely one to be sent down. However, the impression that I get is that the team doesn’t want to make a decision on this unless they are forced to and if they can manage the roster space for the short term, then they will do so.

  • Clyde Frog

    Wait for the injuries, its game 5 and we are already using our injury reserve forwards.

    If Peckham can play with fewer mistakes than our AHL talent, keep him. It’s not hurting us to have defensive depth that has NHL experience…

    If we make it all the way to the trade deadline without needing him, then look to flip him. But why rush things now when we have the time and space to let things play out?

  • Clyde Frog

    Hey JW,

    I am curious, do you think they should give him a look on the wing? Add a little muscle up front, I’d much rather our 4th line from last game, but from time to time if you can add his size and willingness to bang bodies it might not be so bad.