The Edmonton Oilers rarely draft, develop and deploy big, physical defensemen who are useful.
In the last decade or so, they’ve drafted (and traded) Matt Greene, Mathieu “never met an end board he didn’t like to bash head-first awkwardly” Roy, Alexei “slow-slower-slowest” Semenov and Alex “O” Henry.
They have another in Theo Peckham. He isn’t perfect–for instance Greene’s size/speed combination isn’t part of his skill set–but Peckham is pure hammer on a drum. His development (along with Jeff Petry’s) is the most welcome news along the blue.
Theo Peckham 10-11
- 5×5 points per 60: 0.70 (3rd among Oil D)
- 5×4 points per 60: nil
- Qual Comp: 2nd toughest among D
- Qual Team: 6th best available among D
- Corsi Rel: -6.6 (6th best among D)
- Zone Start: 47.1% (toughest among D)
- Zone Finish: 49.5% (worst among D)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 41 shots/3 goals 7.3% (2nd best)
- Boxcars: 71gp, 3-10-13
- Plus Minus: -5 on a team that was -52
- What do these numbers tell us? Peckham played tougher minutes than one would think for a player of his experience. He did it while playing with Tom Gilbert 48% of the time at evens, so despite the teammate number above he wasn’t alone. He did have the toughest zone start, so for Peckham to emerge with his CorsiRel at -6.6 and a -5 overall (and allowing a major dollop for luck) that’s still a solid year. This was his first full NHL season.
- What about that expected plus minus thingy? Peckham played 1,134 minutes at evens, making his expected plus minus -14.8 for his first full season in the NHL. Again, lots of luck but I think it’s also fair to suggest there’s a player here.
- How could these numbers be better? The Corsi team rank could be better, but it’s still an encouraging number on a team this bad. Considering the toughness of minutes and the zone start, expecting more would be beyond reasonable.
- Is he really a top 4 defender? I don’t know. I think we’re about to find out. Peckham isn’t going to be a puck mover and he might have more injuries than most because he’s so bloody active. However, he does seem to be improving with experience and best of all Peckham delivered with some degree of consistency as the season rolled along.
- You like him better than Smid? You’ll have to wait to read the Smid item.
- Big mystery, you’ve already traded Smid. Is Peckham really top 4? If the Oilers keep Whitney, Petry, Gilbert and Smid then my thinking on Peckham is that he’d be 4A (with Smid) next season. I don’t think they’ll do that, deciding instead to run with Whitney-Petry and then deal for another Whitney-type player. If the club flushed Tom Gilbert in that deal, it’s wide open for that defender’s partner with Peckham and Smid the likely candidates.
- Don’t you mean the only candidates? No. Foster is under contract and there’s a possibility he’ll be better next season, plus the team might re-sign someone like Jim Vandermeer. Plus there’s Chorney, a player the organization clearly likes, and the minor leagues have Teubert, Plante, Montgomery and Marincin could take a run.
- Martin Marincin? The same Martin Marincin who struggled in the second half of the WHL season? The very same. Marincin could come to camp and impress, and the Oilers could also draft Adam Larsson. They are also rumored to be in discussions with this fellow and he could surprise. Sounds like Risto Siltanen to me.
- You’re off your nut. NONE of those guys will compete! You do know the Oilers finished 30th in a 30 team league, right? I think the only safe bets on the blue for opening night are Whitney, Petry and Peckham. After that, it’s show me in training camp.
- Ridiculous! Not so. In 1987, the Montreal Expos brought the world to training camp. Every sore armed, heavy drinking male who’d thrown a baseball in anger got an invite. Montreal won 91 games that year. The absence of alternatives clears the mind.
- Baseball isn’t hockey. The point is the same. If you don’t have enough of something, expand the pool of talent available in an effort to find something useful.
- Like Grebeshkov? Yes, except by my count the Oilers have enough puck movers and enough stay-at-homes but are shy on people who can do a wide range of things.
- Who do you want them to trade for? One of those complete talents would be ideal. Someone like Shea Weber, only before he became Shea Weber. Know any of those?
- Will the Oilers make more than one move to improve the defense? Yes. Petry aside, I think they’ll add two defensemen to the top 6 that played here a year ago.