Falcons 08-09 D (Reasonable Expectations Reviewed)

This is Theo Peckham. If we were going to vote on which Springfield Falcon is most likely to spend over 50 games in the NHL next season it would be Wreckum. There will most certainly be growing pains, but his development curve since being drafted suggests he’ll be counted on sooner than many of the young blue who’ve come down the pipeline in the last decade.

Peckham is 21 years old, has played 16 games in the show and during those games he’s established himself with the fanbase as a tough defender and a willing combatant. His skill set fits nicely with the current blue and he looks like a strong candidate for a depth job this fall with the Oilers. He’s certainly the brightest star among this D group.

  • Mathieu Roy: Fall ’08 Reasonable expectations: With the one-way deal and being waiver eligible, we should expect a full season with the big club, even if there’s a bunch of healthy scratches thrown in. Injuries will also be a factor for Roy. ACTUAL: Roy didn’t spend one minute in the show, effectively playing his two-year, one-way contract entirely in the minors. He had a reasonably healthy (50gp, 2-15-17, 120pims) season in the AHL but wasn’t as good as hoped in terms of performance. Roys’ -20 (2nd worst on the blue) added to the downer. He played middle-to-soft opposition (source: Willis) and this season would have to be described as disappointing.
  • Josef Hrabal: Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: He should be smoother and better able to handle AHL competition from the starting gate (among those who haven’t seen AHL action before) and would have to be considered a possibility for recall. ACTUAL: He was injured at TC and I think we have to view his season through that lens. Hrabal played 2nd pairing opposition in the 17 games he played (all of this info is from Jonathan’s two sites, search for “qualcomp”). Hrabal also played in the ECHL and for Modo (SEL) but was -5 in 6 games in the European league. I think he’s still a prospect but the mystery of one year ago has been replaced by something resembling indifference.
  • Theo Peckham: Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: More prominent role in the AHL with a better plus minus number and perhaps some powerplay time. ACTUAL: He beat holy hell out of the expectations and did it well playing the AHL vaunt. His -7 ranked second amongst Falcons regulars on defense and was a massive improvement from the -14 he posted (2nd worst on the team) in 07-08. The kid has been able to develop nicely while staying in the lineup. Defensemen get all kinds of horrible injuries playing in the AHL (it’s a pretty big league and there are some vicious people who need that paycheque) and the kid has negotiated the rapids nicely.
  • Sebastien Bisaillon: Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: If he stays healthy he could post 40+ points in the AHL which would make him the next Marc-Andre Bergeron. Some NHL time is also possible. ACTUAL: One of the things that we can conclude from this past season is that many prospects performed below expectations, but the organization may have been part of the problem. Bisaillon had some arrows headed in the right direction going into the season, but many HS’s and trips to Stockton (and more HS’s) have cast doubt on him as a prospect. He may also have lost a step after that horrible injury last season. He played the softest opposition during his AHL time.
  • Taylor Chorney: Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: A full, healthy season in the AHL, with a plus minus in the middle of the D pack and enough offense to justify his draft number. ACTUAL: It was a bad season for a pretty talented kid. Chorney’s -29 was the worst on the club, but he did play top pairing opposition for most of the year. Why they played him so long against the toughs seems crazy, even with injuries to some of the veterans. Is there any historical precedent for this? When an organization plays their top prospect against the oppostion and he fails miserably, the logical response would be to spot this player against the soft parade and perhaps use him as a powerplay specialist. I see no evidence this was done, and cannot think of a past example of this being done with future success for said prospect. It was a crazy experiment and someone in the organization deserves to be fired for it.
  • Bryan Young: Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: Top 4D in Springfield and perhaps a cup of coffee in the NHL. ACTUAL: Played some of the softest opposition this past season and did his usual struggle early/improve late routine in the plus minus department. The fact that he didn’t play in the top 4D this season is pretty damning, although we can’t fault him for something the organization decided on.
  • Cody Wild: Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: A healthy season (that goes for all these rookies) and learning how to make defensive decisions at a higher speed. ACTUAL: Played 2nd pairing toughness (59gp, 4-14-18) while joining the crowd (-14) in double digit negatives at EVs. He’s probably a little better player than Chorney at this point, but that’s a guess. Wild was also HS’d in Springfield and spent some time in the ECHL, but I’m going to suggest that was an organizational error. He was certainly among the 6 best (healthy) D in Springfield this season.
  • Jordan Bendfeld: Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: A full season in the ECHL with a possible callup to the AHL. ACTUAL: He was injured, playing only 17 games. I still think the Oilers should have done a “draft and follow” instead of taking Bendfeld (who could have been signed as a free agent after the draft). Wasted opportunity, he looks like a guy who’ll have a career in the minors as long as he wants to fight the other team’s big guy.
  • Mike Gabinet: Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: Crash Davis. ACTUAL: Incredibly, Gabinet played only 45 games in the AHL this past season. He was one of the more veteran players on the squad and as such should have had a more prominent role (or the organization should have had a better option). He played against soft opposition and had a -13 in 45gp so a good guess might be the Oilers should have signed a better man.
  • Robbie Bina: Not listed in the original post, Bina split time between Springfield and Stockton this past season. He played against softer opposition and was -18 in slightly less than half a season. Not ready for broadway, and he’s a stretch for off broadway too.
  • Ryan Constant: Enforcer type who played the year in Stockton and had nice numbers in a cup of coffee with Springfield.
  • Jake Taylor: I really want to say that Taylor’s injury had a tremendous impact on the season but may be overstating it. Still, a veteran like Taylor (had he been healthy all year) with a young bull like Peckham is a nice pairing and then maybe Bryan Young, Mike Gabinet and Cody Wild could have combined for some reasonable 2nd pairing. Either way, he was hurt for all but 28 games and it left the kids exposed.

This is a hard season to evaluate because the Falcons were so bloody young. The AHL is a tough league to survive, and the Oilers (imo) probably lost one year of development with these young defenders. Taylor Chorney may have been a much better player in the spring if the Oilers had decided to bring him along more slowly. They had injuries, but the club was also too thin (read:cheap) in terms of experience.

That’s an organizational flaw.

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18 Responses to "Falcons 08-09 D (Reasonable Expectations Reviewed)"

  1. PDO says:

    Detroit takes it slow with their prospects… lets them dominate a level before moving up.

    The Oilers are like the Dad who wants his kid to be the next Micheal Phelps, so they rip off his water wings, take him to the deep end and chuck him in the water, waiting to see if he can figure it out or not.


    That said, Peckham looks like a keeper. He looked better as a rookie than Smid ever did as a sophomore at the same age….

  2. oilerdago says:

    Agree with you assessment on Chorney. Why you don’t let young kids master the task at hand before giving them more responsibility is poor player development.

    But didn’t someone in fact get fired for this (among many other mistakes)?

    This team has to find a couple of vet AHL d-men to mentor Chorney and Wild next year. If that’s not the #1 priority, it ought to be darn close to it.

  3. Lowetide says:

    oilerdago: Truitt had to use the talent he had, the guy who should be fired is the fellow who left this team so poor in terms of veteran minor leaguers.

  4. Vic Ferrari says:

    Yeah, when you look especially at the lockout year in the AHL, a lot of famous young defenders (Bouwmeester, Suter, Hamhuis … a raft of them) were playing in the AHL. And by a tough minutes metric similar to jonathon’s, most of them were playing second level AHL competition, and still weren’t doing as well +/- wise as the 28 year old AHL vets playing in the first D pair.

    The Oilers had Mrozik and a guy named Smith (they had two Smiths, one was much better though). And Ward leaned on them heavily. I was looking for Lynch and Woywitka, and they were playing second pairing type of ice time. Critical situations and Ward would send one of them out with his vets, but not the pair of them, not that I saw anyways.

    I mean that wasn’t a very good team either, but at least they had a few good players to lean on.

    Also, I remember hearing Jeff Tambellini (Islanders porspect) talking about the AHL, on one of the Isle blogger’s blogradio thing I think. And he thought that the AHL wasn’t as tough as it used to be, because there were fewer veterans playing their now. If that’s so … where did they go? Is it really harder to find good AHLers because of Europe, KHL, or are these guys just retiring earlier once they realize that they won’t make the show?

  5. B.C.B. says:

    PDO: I disagree with you that Peckham was better then Smid in their respective rookie years. 1st, Peckham hasn’t had a rookie year, but just 16 games. 2) Peckham doesn’t have the passing ability thet Smid has. 3) Smid saw the ice better then Peckham did when they where 20 years old.

    My AHL pairing next year:
    Vet- Chorney (top opposition)
    Vet- Wild (2nd tier opposition)
    Hrabal – Mortin (weakest opposition)
    Extras: Two of Young, Bisallion, or Vet

    This way the kids we need to develop against the men get big minutes. These kids have Veterans to lean on. The Europeans have a chance to develop their game on the small ice surface, against weakest opposition. In case of injuries, or if someone is playing terrible, we have AHL experienced Dmen in the wings

  6. kris says:

    Chorney’s year was interesting. Obviously he doesn’t have the decision making and maybe not the strength to be a defend top AHL opposition.

    But we knew speed was his main asset and that he might have some skill as a puck mover.

    It seems prospects defense and forwards are sort of the opposite. A speedy skill guy like Cogs can compete at the NHL level and would destroy the A, even if his game is full of holes, but the holes in a defenseman’s game get exploited even in the A.

    I think in two years Chorney might be something. The skills are there.

    Maye he should’ve stayed in school.

  7. Lowetide says:

    kris: I think CHorney turning pro was the right plan, but they needed to bring him along slowly in the AHL. Had he been matched up with say Bryan Young against other rookies (say 4line) from the other team whenever possible things may have worked out better.

    As it was, Chorney (based on Jonathan’s terrific work) played much tougher opposition. I don’t think his resume suggested that was likely (he isn’t a physical type, the AHL’s big forwards would be much older and far more seasoned) and certainly when he was getting crushed early there was time to move him down in the batting order.

    I don’t think this is on the kid at all.

  8. Vic Ferrari says:

    On Peckham, I’m impressed with his game too, but he’s a long ways from being a top four defender right now.

    He was only -1 at evens I know, but his underlying numbers are terrible:

    EV scoring chances (on ice SCF/SCA):
    A ratio of .78
    The same for corsi (on ice shots at net)
    A ratio of .69

    Those numbers are pretty much in line with the Stortini and all the AHL callups except Jacques and Potulny, who were better by another level. And MacIntyre, who was brutal.

    Then again, any D who played with the bottom six Oiler forwards, against the other squads bottom six forwards … they got squished down pretty hard too.

    One of those years where getting bumped up into the top four helped a Dman’s number, the better opposition was more than compensated for by the better forward linemates. SEE Smid and Staios after being bumped up.

    This team had real depth issues. Hopefully they are addressed, good value proven players, guys that actually help you win, they are available every summer lately (Glencross, Torres, Bourque, Williams, Reasoner, Umberger, Hilbert, Gratton and others last summer alone, Jokinen mid season, probably others through waivers that I’m forgetting). Hell, Jeff Hamilton or Boyd Devereaux at league minimum would have been a huge upgrade, and the AHL is swimming in guys like that (just not in Springfield).

    If Sutter can fix his bottom six dramatically in one summer, anyone can methinks.

  9. Smytty777 says:

    Does Plante have another year in junior or is he in the AHL next year? He is having a heck of a playoff run right now.

    17GMs 6G 9A 15P +13

  10. spOILer says:

    Vic, I believe Jussi Jokinen was available on waivers this year… And I’d be taking a run at a guy like Sammy Pahlsson this summer, considering our grief at 3C all season.

    Havlat’s the one that makes me curious, though. I can’t figger out the open market price point on him, if other scoring wingers like D. Sedin and Hossa are available. Does he get a raise from his $6M per yr?

    With the Great Recession it seems to me that it should be easier now to re-shape a team than at any other time during this CBA.

    By the way, I love it when the madding masses ease up here and you start posting more frequently again, Vic. Good work on your site too–thanks for the great reads and the data crunches.

    As for Falcon expectations and the thread at hand… Peckham’s the only one who met or exceeded expectations IMO too. Chorney I would give a get out of jail free card on the season (to continue the monopoly metaphor). And I too had hoped to know more about Wild and Bisaillon that what we got out of that season.

    As for organizational issues…

    Did the 50 contract issue affect the senior depth in Springfield? Wasn’t Roy supposed to be the guy you are talking about, LT? Someone who has mastered that level and could mentor the kidlets?

  11. Traktor says:

    “Havlat’s the one that makes me curious, though. I can’t figger out the open market price point on him, if other scoring wingers like D. Sedin and Hossa are available. Does he get a raise from his $6M per yr?”

    I’d say he’ll get offers in the 6.5-7.5 range on a 2-3 year deal if he makes it on the market.

    My sense is he’ll stay in Chicago for around 5.2 mill though.

  12. Bruce says:

    Apologies to our considerate host for a brief threadjack, but since everybody on the Oilogosphere regularly passes through Lowetide’s Lounge, this is the best place to post a single such item.

    I am hosting a live blog/GDT over at Oil Droppings for today’s Canada-Sweden semi-final. Game time is Noon Mountain, though first post is up now. I welcome folks who are waching or following the game to drop in amd share your thoughts.

    A player of special interest to Oiler fans is Linus Omark, who leads the Swedes in scoring with 2-8-10. A couple of more familiar faces on the Canadian side, where Shawn Horcoff has been a key contributor to the PK unit and shutdown checking line and playing extremely well to my eye. Dwayne Roloson gets the start in goal for the red-and-white.

    If you are planning to watch the game on tape delay later — MUCH later if you are relying on TSN :( — read the pregame stuff by all means but spoilers will follow as the game gets underway.

    The first semi-final between Russia and USA was a wonderful game, and I expect another beauty to follow.

  13. Bank Shot says:

    If Peckham isn’t first call-up this season then the Oilers are likely doing it wrong again. Defense injuries are inevitable and Peckham would probably play 30-40 games as a first call-up which is just fine for a 21 year old that we know isn’t a top tier talent.

    The Oilers should leave him down and look for a bargain on the blueline through trade or free agency.

    Either way, the Falcons are looking to have another year with really young D now that Motin is coming over, and Plante is likely to be signed.

    That gives the Falcons at least five young guns in Chorney, Wild, Motin, Plante, and Bisaillon.

    Hopefully the org. will pick up at least two solid AHL vets to help carry the load.

  14. kris says:


    I’m not so sure about whether it wouldn’t have been better for Chorney to stay in college.

    How different is the softest opposition in the A from the hardest opposition in the NCAA?

    I really don’t know the answer to that. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

  15. kris says:

    And surely there are some intangible benefits to staying in college. Playing for a ‘real team’ is the way I believe Chorney put it. There’s more time to train. Less wear and tear on the body, less travel.

  16. Lowetide says:

    kris: I think as an organization you have to turn kids pro when they’ve proven they can compete against the best players at their current level. Chorney probably did that for 2 seasons at UND.

    It was time.

    The problem probably came from the coach and the Falcons GM. “Play the kids” has to stop when your kids are getting killed.

  17. Gord says:

    If Peckham isn’t first call-up this season then the Oilers are likely doing it wrong again. Defense injuries are inevitable and Peckham would probably play 30-40 games as a first call-up which is just fine for a 21 year old that we know isn’t a top tier talent.

    The Oilers should leave him down and look for a bargain on the blueline through trade or free agency.Totally agree Bank Shot,

    Much as I am a fan of our Mack Truck, the best thing for Peckham’s development is to have him starting the upcoming season in Springfield.

    Injuries or trades can move him to 5/6 on the Oilers by Christmas if he continues to improve.

    The Oilers must quit rushing the next wave!

  18. Dennis says:

    I would say that the best thing I can say about 49 is that I really didn’t notice him out there.

    That’s praise for a Dman that young.

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