In his first full season playing for the Edmonton Oilers Theo Peckham made a lot of friends in Edmonton. Unlike some of the other new players in Edmonton, Peckham’s game has significantly less flash but the type of game Peckham plays isn’t about the flash; it’s all about the bash. He is without a doubt one of the most physical players on the club, one who is also willing to drop the gloves when the situation arises. That is a good way to get noticed by the fans. Having your name butchered by Don Cherry – in this case Teddy Peckman – doesn’t hurt either.
The beauty of Peckham’s game isn’t something you’ll find looking at traditional stats like goals and assists. By those measures Peckham’s production is simply pedestrian, 3 goals and 10 assists this season. But, like I already wrote, Peckham isn’t flash, he’s bash. This season he compiled 198 penalty minutes, a number that dwarfs any other Oilers season total and ranks him third in the NHL behind only Zenon Konopka and Chris Neil. All those penalties included ten fighting majors, again good for tops among Oilers and three more than Steve MacIntyre who is literally in the NHL for the sole purpose of punching other people.
What the NHL refers to as Real-Time stats also shine light on Peckham’s value. These measures include hits and blocked shots and in both cases Peckham looks good when compared to the others who play for the Oilers. With 196 hits he leads all his teammates by a healthy margin. Flip over to blocked shots and only Tom Gilbert is better.
All those blocked shots, hits, fights, and penalties don’t seem to keep Peckham on the right side of scoring chances however. Derek’s breakdown of the Peckham related scoring chances shows that the Oilers struggled significantly when Peckham was on the ice. Individually he bettered the team in just two of the eight season segments and had more segments below 35% (2) than he did above 50% (1). Somewhat surprisingly, despite the lopsided scoring chances Peckham still managed to finish the season at -5; not a good number on most teams but on a team outscored by 44 goals at even strength it’s not terrible.
Looking at the with-or-without-you numbers Derek identified that 18 of the 21 forwards on the team were better without Peckham out there with them. What I find especially interesting is what happens between Peckham and his most regular defence partner, Tom Gilbert. At even strength Peckham was paired with Gilbert 48.82% of the time and generated a respectable 47.1% of scoring chances. Separate them though and Gilbert is almost a breakeven player at 49.8% while Peckham falls off a cliff to 40%. It would certainly seem that Gilbert was more than carrying the load while Peckham was riding shotgun when those two were paired together.
For now at least it seems like Peckham is probably best suited for spot in the Oilers third defence pairing. In this situation he can still be physical and help set a tone for the game, fighting when need be, and at the same time be protected from playing tough minutes. In this role perhaps the Oilers could get a little more out of Peckham in the short term. In the long term I still think he can be a top four defenceman in the NHL but those days are still a ways off for now.
Prediction: The 2011/12 season will see Peckham finish with about 5 goals and 15 assists. I would guess that he will once again lead the team in hits and will almost certainly lead the team in penalty minutes. If health is on his side I think he is a good bet to break 200 penalty minutes for the first time in his career; something accomplished by an Oiler just one time (Zack Stortini in 2007/08 with 201) in the last 14 seasons.