There was doubt as to whether or not Theo Peckham was deserving of a full time role with the Edmonton Oilers last season. Heading into last year’s training camp, most people were expecting him to take that next step and earn a shot at becoming a regular. Problem being, Peckham ended up having a very ordinary camp and did himself no favours with his performance on the ice. The club will never admit it but the reason he was allowed to start 2010-2011 in Edmonton was because of his contract status. In order for Theo to be sent down, he would have had to clear waivers and many in the organization feared they could not sneak him by the other 29 teams. That was a sound decision on the Oilers part. I have little doubt that nearly every club would have willingly taken a shot at the 6’3”, 230lb defenceman.
Not exactly sure what brought it on but as soon as the puck dropped on the season, Theo Peckham was a different player. Night in and night out, he played a solid all around game and always made his presence known to the opposition. On opening night he dropped the mitts with Calgary Flame tough guy Tim Jackman to send a clear message and made it even clearer on November 14th in a game against the New York Rangers. He jumped off the bench to help his fellow teammates after Rangers pest Sean Avery took a cheap shot at Ladislav Smid and started a line brawl between the clubs at Madison Square Gardens. After the game Peckham admitted coming off the bench was the wrong move but he quickly added "we're a family and sometimes you have to just make a stand for yourself". A mindset that has been missing in Oil Counrty for a very long time and it was nice to hear those words come out of the bruising blueliner.
As the season progressed and the injuries continued to pile up, the club struggled to stay competitive on a nightly basis and Peckham saw his share of ups and downs. Largely due to being asked to play far too many minutes on most nights and put in situations that were doomed for failure. He did have the concussion bug hit him when he was dropped in a fight against Boston Bruin Nathan Horton and missed 8 games.
Peckham's style of play has made him an instant fan favourite in Edmonton and he has a certain former head coach who's a big fan and it has earned him a cult following of sorts. Back on November 27th, Don Cherry was talking about Peckham and how much "he loved this kid from Richmond Hill" during his Coach's Corner segment. After showing off some of Theo's big time hits and gushing about the Oiler rookie, he proceeded to rename him "Teddy Peckman"!!! As they say, the rest is history. Not only do many fans and media now refer to the hulking defenceman as "Teddy Peckman" but that is his new moniker inside the Oilers dressing room.
Theo Peckham proved last season that he not only belongs in the NHL on a full time basis but that he could be a difference maker on most nights. Be it by delivering one of his now trademark body checks or by just playing a solid all around game in his own end. Peckham has found a home in Edmonton and he now needs his play to dictate how high on the Oilers depth chart he ends up.
2011-2012 Prediction: 2 G - 8 A - 10 Pts