What Willis Is Talking About

That’s Theo Peckham in an Oiler uniform giving us a hint of what he’ll be doing over the next decade or so (barring injury or trade). Peckham’s arrows of development have never waivered in the breeze since his draft day. He’s improved on his already established skills and worked on the things that could be considered weakness, and Jonathan Willis suggests that he is in fact the top prospect in the organization at this time.

I concur.

Willis’ complete list is here and he offers a terrific look at the organizational depth chart. My list from Christmas is here. Here are some observations I have about Jonathan’s list:

  1. Willis suggests that Riley Nash’s development “may be stagnating at Cornell” but I don’t see it that way. I think Nash is progressing just fine, but the Oilers (like Carolina a few years ago with Jack Johnson) seem to be unhappy with his choice of career path and have been very public about it. Nash’s progress seems reasonable based on his age and quality of opposition, and in fact Cornell went deep into the spring (compared to their own established level) with Nash playing a key role. I’d watch this situation closely this summer; the Oilers may follow Carolina’s example and send him out of town.
  2. Omark is the “best offensive talent in the system right now” as Jonathan contends, but is that reason enough to have made room for him this year? Linus Omark is 22-years old and his breakout season this year is not an established level of ability. Although he was drafted in the same season as Sam Gagner, Omark is in fact 30 months older than Gagner. He’s 4 months older than Andrew Cogliano too, and as such a big step forward in a Euro league (at his age) isn’t enough to make room on your big league roster for an undersized forward. My wish was for them to bring him over to see what he was, but it sounded like Omark and his agent were looking to cash in. My opinion is that Omark’s situation was well played by Tambellini even without the stated wish to get bigger over the summer. I don’t see a tremendous amount of evidence that Omark could replace Gagner, Cogliano or O’Sullivan among the smaller skill forwards and if we’re honest he may not be any better than Robert Nilsson at this time.
  3. I like his take on Dubnyk. It’s very hard to measure goalie performance when the team is so dreadful (call it the Gilles Meloche rule) and DD has had some nice things.
  4. I think he has the new hires from last summer (Cornet and Hartikainen) rated too high at this point. These kids have improved tremendously year over year but that’s to be expected both in level of maturity and opportunity. Improving incrementally over the next two seasons (and more) is the bigger test and as fans we (I) usually overrate that first season after the draft as a predictor of the future.
  5. I think he’s a bit too hard on Schremp. Whatever we think of him, the guy still has enough skill to approach a point per game in the AHL (this season aside) and there were some early season EV indicators that were positive.

Finally, I want to say that Willis’ work over the last few months has been exceptional. I have my favorites and no doubt you do too, but if you don’t start your blog tour with the Willis stops then you’re not as informed as you should be about the Edmonton Oilers.

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9 Responses to "What Willis Is Talking About"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Willis! Willis! Willis!

    I don’t think they move Nash though LT – if so much of the old regime is on thin ice I would have to think that if the kid can play then Tambellini will keep him.

    As for Peckham, for me he is like Gilbert. Right from the beginning the guy has looked like a player. I hope they run he and Smid as the bottom pair this season with a Strudwick type to fill in when necessary.

  2. jon k says:

    I think Peckham’s best asset from the start has been an extraordinary work ethic and determination to be the absolute best he can be.

    From interviews and scouting reports he’s always come across as a guy who is supremely confident in himself but not without good reason.

    His attitude reminds me significantly of Sheldon Souray’s.

    Which reminds me of a funny story: A lady friend of mine works for a phone company. She was assisting some tall, good looking guy with slick hair and a huge wad of cash. She unfortunately assumed he was a drug dealer or the like. She was surprised that when she asked for his name to complete the transaction that he just gave her a funny stare. After a moment’s pause she just asked again, noticeably annoyed. He sort of looks at her and then starts spelling out his name: Sheldon, S-O-U-R-A-Y.

    At that moment she notices that every guy in the store is staring at her.

    I guess he was surprised that there was a single person in Edmonton who did not recognize him.

  3. hunter1909 says:

    Peckham has one of the meanest toughest looking faces I’ve ever seen. It’s just terrifying, the way George Foreman’s used to be.

    He’s going to be the best Oiler defenceman meanness wise since McSorley.

    He’s going to be great.

  4. Black Gold says:

    Are you talking about this face?

  5. Coach pb9617 says:

    If the big red are going to be tournament-worthy again next year, Nash should stay. He can’t face that competition and situation anywhere else right now.

  6. B.C.B. says:

    I agree Willis is one of my two top stops in blogosphere.

    While, I agree with LT that Cornet and Hartikainen (refereed to as the two kids), it is more to do with the rankings in respect to other players (while I have a good friend in Rimouski, who only has good things to say about the Cornet).

    These two kids should be behind JFJ and Schremp, if it is based on who is going to play in the NHL more (not the possible overall production).
    JFJ will get another shot here next year with the big club is my guess, and if he fails then he will get another try with another team, ala Winchester. He is big and can skate, and that never goes out of demand . . .
    Schremp played like crap, but based on his skill, I think he is like JFJ. He’ll get another chance to crack the Oilers line-up and if he fails someone else will pick him up on a league min one-way contract the year after.

    I also think Cornet and Hartikainen should be closely ranked with Josef Hrabal and Milan Kytnar (not 7 and 15 positions a head of them).
    Hrabal took a step back this year, but was it all his fault; or did the two kids just make that many steps forward. Hrabal was still a great defenseman in some tough leagues at a young age.
    Cornet plays in the most offensive junior league and did not get a try out for Team Canada Christmas tourney. Kytnar excelled in both the WHL and played some big defensive minutes for team Slovak in the tourney. Kytnar plays a more defensive game then the two kids, and these skills will make him more likely to play in the NHL.

  7. PunjabiOil says:

    There have been quotes illustrating Peckham’s work ethic and committment.

    It was one summer that he remarked that he was going to stay in Edmonton and work on his skating, despite the fact he wanted to spend time at home.

    That said, I’m not as high on him as far as career wise potential goes. I don’t believe he has enough offensive game to be a blue chip prospect. A Cory Sarich type is probably his ceiling; which isn’t a bad thing.

  8. NBOilerFan says:

    B.C.B. said…
    I agree Willis is one of my two top stops in blogosphere.

    Ditto! A well deserved acknowledgement!

    Great work, Jonathan.

  9. Master Lok says:

    I’m hoping that Peckham tops out as lesser Robyn Regehr. Who fights.

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