EDMONTON - Theo Peckham is happy to have the paperwork out of the way.
The Edmonton Oilers defenceman can now concentrate on regaining the form that saw him become one of the club’s toughest blue liners.
On Monday the Oilers announced Peckham had agreed to their qualifying offer of a one-year, $1.075-million contract.
“I’m happy to get it over with, I’m the kind of guy that just wants to play hockey and not really deal with the business side of it,” Peckham said. “This is my fourth contract negotiation with the Oilers, I think, so you kind of get used to it and know what to expect. It’s not the quickest process in the world, so it’s good to get it over with and now I can just focus on hockey.”
Originally selected by the Oilers in the third round — 75th overall — of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Peckham, 24, had a goal, three assists and 80 penalty minutes in 54 games last season.
Those numbers were down from the previous year when the Richmond Hill, Ont., native posted a career high three goals, 10 assists and 198 penalty minutes, while establishing himself as an every-day blue liner.
“Obviously last year, I didn’t play as well as I think I could have,” Peckham said. “Taking that into the summer, I’m looking to train a little bit harder and play like I did two seasons ago. I don’t think it’s too tough that I can’t do it, I did it once and I think I can obviously do it again.
“I think once you get a little comfortable getting into the NHL, it can get into your game. I think last year I got too comfortable thinking that I was an NHL player and perhaps wasn’t at the point where I needed to prove it every game. That’s something I want to bring back into my game, proving I belong every time I step out onto the ice.”
Peckham made his debut with the Oilers during the 2007-2008 season, getting called up for a game while playing with the club’s AHL affiliate in Springfield.
The following year Peckham got into 15 games as a late-season call-up. He added another 15 games with the Oilers in 2009-2010, before making the team out of training camp the following year.
Signing a one-year deal implies Peckham still has something to prove to the Oilers brass.
“It kind of made sense for both sides to sign a one-year deal. I’m happy with it, it’s another chance to prove yourself and show that you belong in the NHL,” Peckham said. “It’s a chance to earn that three- or four-year deal. For me the ultimate thing is that you want the team to have success and with team success, you’ll have individual success, then all that contract stuff will work out.”
The prospect of playing with the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and defenceman Justin Schultz is exciting for Peckham, who is in a similar age category.
He wants to be part of the core group that takes the Oilers back into contention.
“Obviously I’m not the same type of player as the Halls and the Eberles and the Nail Yakupov’s of the world,” Peckham said. “But, it’s fun to be next to those guys and see how truly gifted they are. At the same time, you can provide that stability for them so they have more opportunity to do those great things.”
In order to get to where he was two seasons ago, Peckham has stayed in town to work with former Oilers Norm Lacombe this off-season.
He’s one of the stronger players on the club, but needs to work on his endurance.
“I’m more so focusing on conditioning this year,” Peckham said. “Obviously I’m a strong guy and I can do those things, but being able to do it for longer periods of time and make sure that I can use my power for the entire game. I have to make sure I can maintain that level of power for the whole game and for the whole season. It’s a very long season and you have to be sure that you can get through all 82 games.”