We have been waiting patiently for this generation’s Jason Smith to arrive. A player who combines toughness, defensive ability and can move the puck forward as required. No five tool type, this player has been central to the National Hockey League since Lionel Hitchman. Heavy minutes in the D-zone, not a lot of glory but you know they’re valuable as soon as there isn’t one available.
Theo Peckham is not an ideal candidate for the Jason Smith role. He can get mixed up at times defensively and caught going the wrong way, and he has challenges moving the puck. He did not have big offensive seasons as a junior (Jason Smith did) and he does not have the ability to skate the puck out of danger.
However, as they say: the absence of alternatives clears the mind. Theo Peckham is the best candidate for the role the Edmonton Oilers cannot solve: a solid minutes EV defender who can play heavy minutes against good opposition and then have enough energy to play a major role as a penalty killer. Ready or not, here comes Teddy Peckman.
- Are you sure he’ll play a top 4 role this coming season? Based on their behaviour this summer, I have to assume the Oilers think Barker is the solution. He’s being hyped in the media and is a pretty famous young hockey player. The math suggests he is not going to be the solution, and Peckham was the Renney fallback position one year ago.
- Seriously? What about Sutton? I know Sutton played some bigger minutes in the recent past and maybe he can play a bigger role than I’ve suggested. It doesn’t seem reasonable to suggest he’ll win the day as a major even strength contributor.
- Will they start the season with Peckham on the 2nd pairing? I think they’ll give Barker a shot, but there’s not a lot of positive trends on his resume. I think Peckham wins the job as he did last year.
- Peckham was top 4 last year? Yes. As I said in the spring RE review 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.
- So maybe he can handle it? In a perfect world or even a logical one the Oilers would get a more experienced partner for Gilbert and then that tandem would do damage. As it is, the Peckham-Gilbert pairing will have to stand up to quality opposition and try not to get killed. It is somewhat similar to the days when Ladislav Smid would skate the puck over to Steve Staios–dragging an opposition forward along–and then pass Staios the puck. Not quite that bad, but this is not an ideal scenario.
- The tandem got killed last season. According to Dennis King’s numbers (via Copper and Blue) it was the most successful pairing Peckham was attached to last year. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride; this looks like the 11-12 2nd pairing to me.
- No No No! It’s Gilbert-Smid and Whitney-someone. Well, we can wait for someone, but I think the club will run through Barker and maybe Sutton before arriving at Peckham (or Petry).
- You seriously think they’ll run Peckham-Gilbert out there? Not to start. I expect Smid-Gilbert will be a 1st or 2nd pairing (with Whitney possibly missing the first part of the season) and then they’ll try something crazy for the other two pairings.
- Crazy? If Whitney is hurt, then Renney will likely have Smid, Gilbert, Peckham, Barker, Sutton, Chorney and Petry on the roster. How would you cut that up? I’ll guess he goes Smid-Gilbert, Sutton-Barker, Peckham-Petry as a beginning.
- And it won’t work? Recent history for the new hires suggests it won’t, but maybe they know something we don’t know. I’m guessing they slide Peckham (and maybe Petry too) up the depth chart early on this season.
- You don’t think the Sutton-Barker tandem can play tough minutes. What is your proof? For crying out loud: Minnesota bought out Barker, and the Ducks–dying for defensemen–played Sutton 12 even strength minutes a night. If you look at the summer’s exchange: Foster and Vandermeer out, Barker and Sutton in, pretty much all of that activity is outside the top minutes at evens.
- What’s the plan? This why I don’t understand what Steve Tambellini did on defense this summer. He has two reasonable young bets on defense (Peckham and Petry) and odds are both will he useful if they can stay healthy. Peckham should be able to cover 15-17 minutes a night at evens when he’s mature, and then be a PK contributor. I’m not really familiar with what a top 4D represents to people, but if he can play the evens against the tougher (not toughest) opposition, that should be a second pair defender. Right? Petry, same thing only he’d be used on the PP too so maybe he grabs 20 minutes a night. Maybe Petry even becomes a guy who can take on top pairing opposition but we’re guessing at how things will turn out long into the future.
- What don’t you understand about Tambellini? Tambellini looked at the roster and probably saw three of his top 4 (Whitney, Gilbert, Smid). He sees Peckham who played top 4 at times this past season but has some issues, he sees Petry who is a long term solution but perhaps not ready. So, in that situation I believe you’d want to add a guy who can play tougher minutes at even strength and cheat for the PK a little; ST got a PP solution and an enforcer who can penalty kill. It just doesn’t make as much sense to me as signing Scott Hannan.
- Maybe Hannan wasn’t available to the Oilers. Could be, he did sign just down the road though. I think the Oilers might have had a shot if they’d offered longer term and say 2M or so, but am clearly guessing. I don’t think anyone thought Hannan would be available this late and the Oilers decided on their roster earlier in the summer. Too bad, Hannan made sense for this roster.
- How good can Peckham become? I’m not sure. You’d like a more expert puck handler but he’s certainly going to create room for his blue partner. Peckham has moved up the depth chart nicely and has passed a lot of tests, which is one of the main reasons I think Renney will ask him to add a few chores to his game this coming season.
- You like him. Sure do, he’s a throwback player who I think will be more effective as he ages and learns those little tricks that allow veterans to cheat defensively without getting caught. I think he’s a keeper, no matter if he’s playing 2nd or 3rd pairing.
- Should he be a top 4 option? No, not at this time. Possibly in the future. However, I believe he’ll be thrust into the role again in 11-12.