Theo Peckham didn't go to college, but he's no dummy. We all know that Peckham didn't have a very good season in 2011-12, and when I say "all" I mean to include Theo Peckham himself, who was smart enough to jump on the qualifying offer that the Oilers gave him prior to July 1st. Qualifying offers expire on July 15th, so it's no surprise that we're hearing about Peckham's signing today. With seven other defenders already penciled in for NHL employment, Peckham's position on the NHL roster was precarious to say the least. But by signing the deal in front of him, he's set to earn good money (it's a one-year deal that will pay him $1.075M), and with some solid play, he could re-establish himself as an NHL regular. The decision was such a no-brainer that the only thing that surprised me about the announcement was the fact that Peckham's signing was the only one announced.
Four other players also received qualifying offers from the Oilers, namely Sam Gagner, Linus Omark, Alex Plante, and Chris VandeVelde. Sam Gagner rejected his offer, but he's in no danger of losing his job and is sure to be under contract with somebody by this time next week thanks to the arbitration process. Turning down a qualifying offer makes complete sense for him.
Linus Omark's offer was a two-way deal and he's just not prepared to earn $65,000 playing in Oklahoma when he could be pulling down six or seven figures elsewhere. That doesn't mean he's walking out on the organization, but he clearly has other options available that make this move sensible. Of course, those other options might not be in the NHL. If the Oilers send him down, there's no guarantee that anyone picks him off waivers, which would mean another season spent at least partly in the AHL. I'd guess that he's asking for $105,000 at the AHL level on his next contract (the maximum he's allowed without needing to clear re-entry waivers), and that if the Oilers won't give it to him, he'll be back off to Europe. For Linus Omark, turning down the qualifying offer makes some sense.
Next up, we have Alex Plante. Plante's refusal is at least somewhat understandable in that he's probably hoping to get a bit more AHL money (that $105,000 number is again the likely target), he's young enough to be a prospect, the Oilers spent a first-round pick on him, and he's shown enough improvement that the club likely want to keep him in the organization. Alex Plante is a good AHL defenseman right now and has some upside, which is exactly what the Oilers should want in filling out their AHL team. Seems like he's pretty safe to me.
VandeVelde's refusal, however, is inexcusable. When the Oilers gave him a qualifying offer, it was an absolute gift. He's not young enough to be a prospect, he's not in high demand anywhere else, and he's not even all that good at the AHL level. It's baffling to me that he doesn't know that he's not a tough player to replace. Heck, the Oilers could go out and sign Ryan O'Marra to take his spot, and they'd probably be better for it. I'm hopeful that they'll use their newfound room under the fifty-man limit more judiciously than that, but that more judicious use does not include signing Chris VandeVelde.