Theo Peckham’s slide from #2 overall prospect to fifth overall comes down to one thing: conditioning. Falcons coach Rob Daum was quoted on Bob Stauffer’s show earlier this fall talking about Peckham and conditioning. In the interview, Daum suggested that Peckham’s slow start in the AHL this season was due to slow recovery from his ankle injury and not being able to stay in shape. Daum ended the exchange with a comment about conditioning being an issue with him even when healthy.
Having said that Peckham (6.02, 220) is still the best defense prospect in the organization. He’s strong as an ox, appears to love the hitting game and when healthy (as he was last season) appears to be capable of playing defense in the NHL. At least two of his coaches have commented on Peckham’s penalty-killing ability, plus his ability to read plays and eagerness to enter the fray. These are valuable assets. Also, Jonathan Willis’ study last season into which blueliners were facing the toughest opposition had Peckham right at the top, so one assumes that he’s facing a similar climb every night this year. I should also mention he brings more offense than you’d think, having gone 122gp, 12-26-38 in his AHL career.
What doesn’t he bring? Peckham isn’t going to help a major league powerplay (although he does have a terrific shot and has been used on the Falcon powerplay) and I don’t think we’ll mistake him for Lubo as a puck carrier.
Peckham looked overmatched in the show this season (-5 in 4 NHL games, total ice time: 48 minutes) and struggled early in his AHL season too. Daum mentioned in the same Stauffer interview that Peckham was a spent force in the third of a “three in a row” weekend series earlier in the year (Oct 16-18) and it showed (-2 on the night). However, that game aside Peckham has had a nice season in Springfield (15gp, 0-6-6 +5 without the Oct 18 game) and could get another chance in the NHL at some point this season. Certainly we can look for him to get some playing time after the deadline if Tambellini offloads a veteran defender.
In my earlier look at who makes it from a top 20 at any given time (I used the 2003 list) the magic number was 5 (Stoll, Torres, Greene, Bergeron and Conklin). If we follow that line of thinking, the current top 5 would represent the only members of the top 20 to have NHL careers (if I was lucky enough to identify the correct 5). That same glance at 2003 suggested there would be 2 or 3 players who still had a chance to be players some 6 years later.
The second tier (6-8) are up next.