In what has been an extremely frustrating season for the Edmonton Oilers organization and their entire fan base, one of the most curious situations surrounds the club's decision on how to use defenceman Theo Peckham.
Edmonton - April 24, 2013 - To be completely fair, Theo Peckham has no one to blame but himself for the situation he currently finds himself in.
Once the NHL and NHLPA decided to finally come to their senses and put an end to what was ultimately a pointless lockout, Peckham showed up to the Oilers abbreviated training camp overweight and out of shape.
Simply unacceptable for any player in today's NHL...unless your first name is Dustin and your surname is either Byfuglien or Penner.
Having said all that, the twenty-five year old paid the price for his mistake from the first day of camp but at what point is that debt considered paid-off? For a team and blueline core that has been as bad as this one has been during certain stretches this season, can anyone come up with a a good reason as to why Peckham has not dressed for a single game since March 8th?
That's twenty-one games and counting, in which the former third round pick hasn't dressed for head coach Ralph Krueger.
Make no mistake, Theo is nothing more than sixth/seventh defenceman but on a roster which has at least two other players in the same exact situation, why is #24 the one continually getting the short end of the stick? Could it have been based on his performance during the four games he played? While Edmonton did happen to lose all four of those outings, you would be hard-pressed to blame that on him.
He was a very respectable -1 during his brief stint in the lineup, played between 16-18 minutes a night and brought a physical element to the backend, which is basically non-existent, should Mark Fistric find himself in the press box. To be completely honest, Peckham looked far more composed with the puck on his stick, than he had at any point during the 2011-2012 campaign. Making is exile all the more perplexing.
Krueger told a media scrum last week that the plan all along, was to only use Peckham if they were to run into injury trouble on the blueline. They felt their current rotation of seven was pretty darn solid. Not sure if Ralph and his coaching staff have been paying attention but that rotation, is one of the worst groups in the entire National Hockey League.
The continual flipping of Fistric, Corey Potter and Ryan Whitney has become almost comical and produced nothing but shotty performance from all three, during the Oilers most recent struggles. At this point, you almost have to wonder if they would have run with five defenceman, had that injury bug hit.
In the organization's defence, this is not the first time that conditioning has been an issue, when it comes to the hard-hitting rearguard. Perhaps they have grown tired of his act and no longer see him as part of the equation. Should that indeed be the case, no one would question them going in a different direction.
Having said that, why is he still part of the organization? Cut him loose and let him get on with his career. The Oilers gave Peckham a shot at becoming an NHL player, when they decided to call his name at the 2006 Entry Draft. To this point in his career, he has not made the most of the opportunity and that is completely on him.
At the end of the day, the Edmonton Oilers do not owe Theo Peckham a thing. Though keeping a guy around, when you have absolutely no intention of using him, is bush league. Had they simply put Theo on waivers, he would have likely been claimed as a depth defenceman by another organization or he would be in Oklahoma City. Instead, we have the situation we currently do and it does not look good on those running the show in Oil Country.
Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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