That’s Bobby Hull (Hawks) followed by a young Brad Park and veteran Dave Balon (both Rangers) about 40 years ago.
Young defensemen are such a pain in the ass until the light goes on. It’s true. Turning the wrong way, falling down, forgetting the backdoor play, I’ve watched decades of young defensemen and with few exceptions it’s an absolute nightmare.
They screw up two-on-ones, block out the goalie, take penalties at the worst time for no good reason and turn the coaching staff grey.
However. When they turn the corner, when the lightbulb over their head goes on, when they manage oppositions sorties with authority–well, that’s a damn good day.
The Teaching of Peckham 1-2-3
The latest available relCorsi numbers from our friend Gabe Desjardins show Theo Peckham turning a corner. This confirms what our eyes see. I’m not saying he’s all the way there but Peckham is the first defender drafted by the Oilers in ages to show enough development to be considered a legit top 6 option on a decent hockey team. Plus he should get better–defensemen have a tough job and as he approaches 50 games (and then 100) the Oilers should benefit from his experience as the game pace slows for him.
We’re focused on the three kids up front (and for good reason, they’re going to be outstanding) but we should remember that this season saw an emerging NHL defensemen arrive from the Prendergast draft lists. Should Jeff Petry, Alex Plante, Taylor Chorney or Johan Motin also emerge healthy and useful over the next few seasons it’ll be a huge item in the ST 3.0 rebuild. Good young defensemen who can actually play are not only rare, it is truly painful to watch them develop.
I’m slotting my winter top 20 and will begin posting it the last week of this month. My dividing line for prospects is 50 NHL games for skaters and 20 for goalies. What does this mean? Peckham and Dubynk graduate from the summer list and of course it goes without saying that the three rookie forwards will have graduated by next summer. This is an amazing time for Oilers prospects–they’re real and they’re spectacular.