#3 Prospect Winter 2008: Theo Peckham

Current Rank: #3
Summer 2008 Rank: #3

I’m fairly certain Theo Peckham is going to surprise people. Bob Stauffer can’t say “Theo Peckham” without adding “might be a good 5-6D someday” and that kind of comment obscures the fact that the kid continues to develop.

Theo Peckham turned 21 about one month ago and has played 75 AHL games and had a couple cups of coffee in the show. His improvement since turning pro has been nothing short of amazing.

In his rookie season (Peckham was 19 when he turned pro) in Springfield he played in 59 games, scoring 6-7-13 and 174pims and a -14. 2 of his goals came on the powerplay and his minus 14 came on a team that was -29 overall (I can’t find shorthanded goals for and against so that number is a little off) in the 07-08 season.

This year, Peckham is getting powerplay time and delivering. But it’s more than that. His numbers (16gp, 4-6-10 +3) are an improvement and he’s having an impact in all areas. His plus +3 comes on a team that is 35-30 (+5) at EVs this season. He’s also playing against tougher competition (based on reports and scoresheet) this season.

Springfield coach Jeff Truitt: “Theo’s still a young player, but he shows a well-rounded game. He’s physical, a guy his team can count on. He’s relied upon for penalty-killing and the power play. On the power play, he has a knack for getting a shot through traffic.”

Peckham: “I know my role (on the power play). Either shoot the puck or be a distraction (to the defensive team). The coaches have been working with me, teaching me to take my time and not go at the net every time I get the puck.”

Year over year (through 16 gp) we can see that Peckham is in fact improving:

  • 07-08 Peckham at EVs: 2-1-3
  • 08-09 Peckham at EVs: 2-4-6
  • 07-08 Peckham on PP: 1-1-2
  • 08-09 Peckham on PP: 2-2-4

Peckham’s indicators are all positive. This comes on the heels of an 07-08 season in which the organization took notice. Again, Prendergast: “The guy who’s come the furthest is Theo. He brought every element of his game that we drafted him for; the toughness, the ability to clear the front of the net and he’s advanced his game in being able to carry the puck and jump in the play, his gap control is very good and he’s a team-orientated player.”

Bob Stauffer may be right: Theo Peckham may end up being a 5-6D in the NHL. I think there’s growing evidence that he might be more than that and I also believe Peckham is close to being recalled to the show for good. He’s a quality prospect, you could make a strong argument for Theo Peckham to be the #1 prospect in the system.

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31 Responses to "#3 Prospect Winter 2008: Theo Peckham"

  1. jon k says:

    Been a big fan of him since a Bears rookies versus Oilers rookies game a few seasons ago.

    Seems to be a bright guy, which I think is an underrated quality in defensemen, even despite the fact that the best defenseman since Orr relies almost entirely upon just that.

    For the same reason I still think Petry is a quality prospect, albeit one whose development is a behind on the curve. Hopefully he turns pro next season.

  2. Black Dog says:

    Terrific prospect. I really have high hopes for this guy.

    I’ve used this phrase before – this guy just screams “hockey player” to me. He’s tough, smart and confident – what’s not to like?

  3. doritogrande says:

    Theo Peckham would kick the sweet fuck out of Sean Avery.
    Full stop.

  4. B.C.B. says:

    I know +/- has a bad rap around here, but to me that is his biggest improvement. Going from -14 last year to +3 this year is huge (the year is still young, I know). I don’t care, as much, about his offensive numbers (while it is good, he is thinking a smarter offensive game). If he is going to be our big hulking defenseman of the future- with smarts- then I’ll be happy (we could use one since Greener is gone).

    I’d say his optimal range is 3.5-6 defenseman, with is very good for a 3rd round draft choice: Good job Prendergast!

  5. Marc says:

    Apropos of nothing, the Sports Illustrated vault tossed up this beauty today:


    It's an article from 1982 in which Orr, Esposito, Dryden and Hull marvel at a young Wayne Gretzky. It totally made my day.

  6. jon k says:

    Well, that’s hard to say unless it happens. Avery, despite being a total pain in the ass, is actually quite a good fighter when he decides to drop them.

  7. Marc says:

    That didn’t work for some reason.

    Try this:


  8. Jonathan says:

    I swear, the current team is basically the 2005-06 Oilers. Gilbert is playing Staios, Grebeshkov is playing Bergeron, and Strudwick/Staios are Ulanov/Cross.

    Enter Peckham as Matt Greene, Ladislav Smid as Dick Tarnstrom, and they just need to add a Spacek and dump Cross/Ulanov and that is a fine looking d group.

  9. Black Dog says:

    B.C.B. – the other thing is that by all accounts he’s handling the other team’s big boys this year, which makes it that much more impressive

  10. doritogrande says:


    Spacek = Visnovsky?

    I guess this assumes that 44 = 44?

    And they’ve already dumped Cross/Ulanov, but not quite in the same sense. He’s Matt Roy, and he’s buried in the minors, playing his level of hockey for the money that Theo Peckham deserves.

  11. B.C.B. says:

    BD: That is more impressive. I like this guy and I don’t care what his offensive numbers are: I want a defensive defenseman for the future.

    What do you folks think about leaving him down in the AHL till next year? Of course barring a major injury that cannot be replaced by a trade.
    I think the Oilers should keep him down in the minors, playing big minutes and the best AHL has to offer all year (trade if the Oilers get into injury).
    I say this because it seems like the best way to develop defenseman (unless they are a 1st round pick and they need that next level right away).

  12. Bob Arctor says:

    Thanks for the article Marc.
    This line stood out for me:
    “Gretzky, who last season averaged a whopping 38 minutes of ice time a game…”

    Enough of the past, hopefully Peckham gets his chance next year. With either Strudwick or Staios gone…

  13. Lord Bob says:

    A guy should be left in the minors until he’s proven he can handle AAA-calibre pitching.

    If Theo Peckham isn’t there yet, he’d be damned close. I’d see nothing wrong with bringing him up after the trade deadline or, if we make a trade, even earlier.

    And let’s not rule out his offense just yet. His career arc seems to have a sort of Sheldon Souray path to it so far.

  14. B.C.B. says:

    Marty Sackic is playing on the top Thrasher line against Montreal. To me that means either:

    1) the oilers made a mistake by letting him
    2) Atlanta suck more then I knew

  15. Doogie2K says:

    Fantastic SI article.

    Yet there he was playing with a bunch of guys like Lumley and Kurri and Callighen—talented players but hardly stars—and taking us to scoring heights never imagined.

    Jari Kurri was a late bloomer compared to Wayne Gretzky, I guess. ;)

    In two appearances in Detroit, home of the hapless Red Wings

    [sing]Those were the days…[/sing]

    The only team to have shadowed Gretzky successfully so far is Boston, which uses a young center named Steve Kasper for the job. Kasper was voted the best defensive forward in the NHL last season largely because he held Gretzky to a total of one goal and four assists in three games. In the two games the Bruins and the Oilers have played against each other so far this year, Gretzky has gotten only three assists.

    And then sometimes, you look back and laugh. If Ales Hemsky had eight points in his last five games against Boston, or whomever, that would be just fine with me, thanks.

    Dryden, 35, a non-practicing lawyer, now lives in Toronto and is completing a book on hockey.

    And a fine book it was, too.

  16. Jonathan says:


    I was thinking that Visnovsky/Souray combined is a pretty comparable top two to Smith/Pronger. Pronger’s the best of the four, but 71-44 is a pretty nice top end in their own right.

    And in my analogy, I think Mathieu Roy is Alexei Semenov.

  17. bookie says:

    Mactavish has to be Fired!

    ok, I am totally kidding with the above. I hope I made your blood pressure rise for just a second though – its good for you.

    Good post LT, I thought Peckham did a good job for the game (was it just one?) that he was up here. He was pretty steady and showed his physical side as well.

  18. Ender says:

    Honestly, I don’t see MacT getting fired. The team, even when they’re losing, is leaps and bounds better than it has been in years. Sure, wins are all that really matters, but so many players are so low with their shot% right now that it’s a dam that’s going to be broken sooner or later.

    Yes, you can argue that Staios/Strudwick is driving down the team and replacing them with Smid/Peckham would be at least as good as what we’ve got, and you might be right. But the goalie situation has actually been working out pretty well, and other than that D line, the D has been working pretty well.

    The top two lines have been working pretty well, especially considering slumps, and the third line has been showing up fairly regularly as well. The fourth line has been a bit of a rotator, and it’s suffering because of it, but for the most part the team is functioning pretty well.

    As I see it, there’s one big aspect that’s fallen apart this year, and that’s the forecheck. Nobody seems to be forechecking offensively, and nobody seems to know how to deal with a forecheck defensively. The day they put a Brule/GlenX character on the 4th line, coupled with a decent defensive D-man on the third 3-line is the day we go on a run.

  19. bookie says:

    Ender – It was totally a joke (read the whole post). The last thing I wanted to do was bring MacT into this post. I was being totally being rediculas to spoof the dominance of MacT in all of the threads.

    wow, I guess I missed on that one. Peckham…its all about Peckham. T

  20. doritogrande says:


    Great call on Semenov. Is great success.

    Question is this: Can Rob Schremp come in and bat 5th a’la Sergei Samsonov?

  21. Lord Bob says:

    Well, we all expected Semenov to be something and he got every chance in the NHL.

    Roy, none of us had much in the way of expectations for and he’s playing right where he belongs.

    So there is some difference there.

  22. Ribs says:

    I never expected Semenov to be anything. That guy was horrible from day one!

  23. Ender says:


    I knew it was a joke. Just been meaning to make that post for a while and never got around to it. Bad timing on my part ;)

  24. Ender says:

    Hmmm. I guess that ended up OT. What I meant was that maybe if they pull up Peckham and bench Staios/Strudwick, we could stop talking about MacT altogether. I mean really, if a vet has poor positioning, you’d think a youngun couldn’t be worse, plus a bit faster right?

  25. Lowetide says:

    Ender: But what about MacT?


  26. Ender says:

    Lowetide: Oh, obviously fire him. ;)

  27. raventalon40 says:

    I know +/- has a bad rap around here, but to me that is his biggest improvement. Going from -14 last year to +3 this year is huge

    Doing well at +/- still means something whether or not the stat has bearing on the player’s overall contribution.

    Peckham has some offensive ability as attested by his stats as well as a demonstrated toughness and tenacity. When the coach MacT has questioned the team’s toughness, willingness to play and their fire, what’s not to like about Peckham? He’s just pure awesomeness.

  28. Scott says:


    To me, you seem a bit higher on Peckham than is warranted by his actual play. You also talk a lot about comps, which I often find very helpful in illustrating your perspective (I also often find them compelling evidence). Do you have anyone in mind for Peckham?

  29. Scott says:

    Incidentally LT, regarding comps, the two guys I’d suggest (among other reasons for my not being so high on Peckham) are Rick Berry and Lance Ward.

    Both Berry and Peckham have birthdays in mid-November. They were both drafted as physical dmen in the third round out of the CHL. Berry brought his PIMs to the AHL in his first season there as a 20 y/o and then contributed additional offence in his second year. In his third pro season he made his NHL debut (19 games) and was an established NHLer the next year. He played in a total of 197 NHL games, garnering 15 points and 314 PIMs.

    Lance Ward also made his debut as a pro at age 20 in the AHL after being drafted in the third round (though this was in his second go-around, he was originally drafted in the first round). June birthday. He also established himself in the NHL in his third pro season (30 games) and became a full time NHLer the next season. His career came out with 209 games, with 16 points and 391 PIMs.

    Both of these guys strike me as pretty good comps (although Peckham looks to be a little better) and neither is anything to get excited about. Peckham probably has the NHL in his future, but, at least to my (statistical) eye, he’s nothing to get excited over.

    19 y/o junior season and 20 y/0 pro season:

    53 GP 10-25-35 173 PIMs
    59 GP 06-07-13 174 PIMs

    59 GP 09-21-30 131 PIMs
    62 GP 02-06-08 153 PIMs

    71 GP 08-25-33 233 PIMs
    43 GP 02-05-07 051 PIMs

  30. Oilmaniac says:

    If Peckham is going to be up by the end of the season, its only due to injury right?! or is this opinion the continuation of the smid-will-be-traded mentality…

    Id still rather see smid than peckham…


  31. Dennis says:

    When I think of Berry I always think of the time him and Neminen were dealt for Kasperitis.

    This is based on nothing numerical – and normally I laugh at stuff like that – but I see Peckham as a 6 dman who’ll step up to high people and will fight and will be a good teammate. I’m not sure if he’ll ascend beyond that strata and I’m seemingly a lot harder on G and D than I am with the forwards.

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