This is David Woodley wearing the Oklahoma City Blazers uniform from the mid-60′s. Woodley was well down the Bruins depth chart in the summer of 1967 (expansion year) but Boston lost a ton of defensemen in the expansion draft. Woodley went to camp that fall with a decent chance to make the big club as a depth player (Bruins had also dealt Gilles Marotte in the Phil Esposito trade) but he returned to Oklahoma City that fall and in fact played for the Blazers 66-70 before moving on.
By the time the WHA arrived Woodley (still playing pro in the WHL pro league) was 27 and could have made the second league but it didn’t happen for him. It looks like he was pretty healthy those years and I have old Hockey News issues from the era and Woodley was invited to training camps but never got the call.
I’ve listed Woodley for two reasons: the Oilers AHL farm team will very likely be in Oklahoma City next season making recalls to the show easier beginning in the fall. The Oilers will likely use this as an opportunity to evaluate Kevin Prendergast’s position and some among us don’t think it is going to be pretty. I think Prendergast is going to have a hard time defending the Falcons most recent season, especially considering there was an added element (money for AHL free agents) in the mix for 09-10.
The other reason I posted this photo is Woodley himself. I’m probably the world’s leading expert in which players didn’t make the NHL/WHA in the years 1967-90. I can say this with some authority because who the hell else would bother? It’s an obscure hobby to say the least and frankly not something I generally share with people (didn’t tell my wife until after we were married).
Anyway, the idea of the exercise is to find reasons for failure/delayed success by specific players. They always fall into five categories:
- Elevation to the show was delayed but said player was saved by expansion/trade/IL draft.
- They spent a certain amount of time as an “option” for recall but it didn’t happen.
- They weren’t good enough, likely filling a 5-role on their minor league teams.
- They kept getting passed by other players during a period of good/better/best procurement by the parent club but became reliable as a minor league option so had enough value to stay in the organization.
Woodley was an epic fail among the men on the Bruins 1967 summer list (Bob Heaney had the same experience at the same time), never making the NHL, the WHA and retiring long before most of the others in the prospect pool 1967 summer.
I mention this because there might be a subtle change in order taking place in the next few months along the Oilers prospect blue. In my latest Oilers top 20, I ranked Theo Peckham #5, Taylor Chorney #8 and Alex Plante came in at #15. Peckham has been injured for much of the season (TC and later concussion) and there were conditioning whispers from the Oilers organization to go along with it. Add to that Plante’s performance (in a very small sample), the club’s increasing reliance on Taylor Chorney (this is his rookie season in the NHL, having just passed 20 games) and the strong year Jeff Petry is having and you can trace Peckham’s subtle shift down the depth chart to #2 (injury).
This might not mean a thing. Peckham’s a helluva prospect, a willing fighter and can hit like a Mack truck. I’m pulling for him because he’s a fun player to watch, there’s never been a suggestion he isn’t working hard to get better and from all reports he’s a guy Daum relies on when healthy.
But these things happen quickly and sometimes catch us off guard. So, if the Bruins come calling for Lubo at the deadline and the Oilers ask for a lot in return, perhaps Boston asks for Theo Peckham as part of the return. It’s also possible they get him, which (if true) is a subtle shift from the pecking order just a few short months ago.