It’s fairly easy to keep score when your team is in rebuild mode. Count the number of genuinely good young players who are making progress. That’s pretty much it. Wins and losses will matter again someday but for this season (and next) it’s not about the quality of the meter or the band playing in time.
We’re tracking the future, just like Minnesota Twins fans 28 long summers ago. The 1982 Minnesota Twins. 60-102. That’s putrid. However, they had a big first baseman named Kent Hrbek and they gave him a full season of at-bats; he caught a few errant throws from another rookie over at the hot corner (Gary Gaetti); the Twins grabbed a mammoth LF from the Angels the year before (Tom Brunansky) and he made some noise at the plate. None of them could help a struggling lefty Frank Viola who went 4-10 and threw BP fastballs all summer long.
We know the future up front: Taylor and Samwise, Magnus and Jordan.
The blue? No lottery choices, no one stepping forward, not one young defender has separated himself from the others. That’s where the 1982 Minnesota Twins come in. Who ended up helping Gary and Kent and Tom and Frank? Finding the role players on defense won’t be as easy as tracking the boxcars. It’s a long list of possibles. We begin with Theo.
•Boxcars: 15gp, 0-1-1
•Plus Minus: -8
•Corsi (Rel): -12.6 (5th best on D, DNQ)
•GF/GA ON: 5-12
•5×5/60: 0.28 (6th among D, DNQ)
•Quality of Competition: 5th toughest among D’s (DNQ)
•Quality of Teammates: 7th best among D’s (DNQ)
•Cap Hit: $550,000
- What do these numbers tell us? Not much, he spent much of the season in the minor leagues. Peckham was injured before training camp and then conditioning was a problem (such a problem the Oilers management actually mentioned it). You can see it better if his two callups are split: in October 2009, Peckham went 4gp, 0-0-0 -5. In March he was 11gp, 0-1-1 -3. The kid was playing bigger minutes in March too.
- How could these numbers be better? We’re never going to be able to measure his success through the boxcars, but the quality of minutes and teammates will be a good tell. Rob Daum trusted him in Springfield and if he can stay healthy at the NHL level Peckham should be able to move up the depth chart.
- What does he bring? He is tough as nails, a real throwback. Peckham had 43 pims and was a willing fighter, and plays with so much confidence it borders on swagger. Peckham gives you the idea that he can make a play, be it a physical manhandling or reading a situation. He is somewhat alone among the group of defensemen bubbling under for the Oilers in that way, although Alex Plante showed some of that in his late season recall. He’s 6.02, 225 and a load.
- What was said about his conditioning? Last fall, Rob Daum was on Bob Stauffer’s show and suggested conditioning was an issue. He even mentioned conditioning was an issue when Peckham was healthy. I think the problem may have come from not being able to workout due to the pre-training camp injury (ankle) but either way it was enough of an issue for management to say it out loud and that’s a pretty big deal.
- Did management show any kind of trust in him? Pat Quinn: “When I first saw him (in an Oilers uniform), the scouting report was that he was a tough kid who didn’t really know how to play. When he came back (on his most recent call-up), he showed us that he had a little bit more than just being a tough guy. As he played and gained our confidence, he was gaining his own as well. They were really good minutes for him.”
- How important is he to the organization? Pretty important. I think the organization is probably moving their depth chart around, with Chorney stepping into an elevator shaft and Petry’s NHL ETA being pushed back. If we can agree that Plante and Motin will need some more time in the AHL, then Theo Peckham is up against Strudwick and Belle. With Peckham’s waiver risk, it shouldn’t be too hard for him to win the day in training camp.
Has enough AHL experience to get a real NHL shot