2006 Draft yielded two quality defensemen for Edmonton Oilers

By Lawrence Bailey
Photo: In his first professional season, Jeff Petry has shown a great level of poise with the puck. (Photo courtesy of Holly Gunning/HF)

On the heels of their miracle Stanley Cup finals run, it was a quick turnaround for the Edmonton Oilers to the June 2006 draft table in Vancouver. They were also down a few picks, most notably their 1st rounder which had been dealt to the Minnesota Wild in the Dwayne Roloson deadline trade.

With only five picks to work with—and only two in the top 132—the odds of netting a haul of top flight prospects were already slim, though by the looks of it at least one and quite possibly two members of that quintet will be quality NHL players.

Jeff Petry, D, Des Moines (USHL) – 2nd round, 45th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 7

While Jeff Petry took his time developing, he has finally made it to the NHL this season and expectations are high within the Oilers organization and among their fans for the well-rounded blueliner.

Petry played another year in the USHL after being drafted, and followed that up with three seasons with the CCHA’s Michigan State Spartans before turning pro in the spring of 2010. His tenure at Michigan State was up and down, as he bookended a very poor sophomore season with brilliant freshman and junior campaigns. His 29 points in 38 games as a junior in 2009-10 were enough to convince to Oilers to sign him and he had a brief run of eight AHL games (notching three assists) with the Springfield Falcons at the end of the season.

He was incredibly impressive in training camp in the fall of 2010, outplaying some of the NHL veterans, but the Oilers brass didn’t want to rush him, so he was sent to Oklahoma City of the AHL. After putting in a tremendous 34 game stretch with the Barons (in which he notched seven goals and 14 assists), he was given his shot once the Oilers ran into some injury trouble and he hasn’t looked out of place.

Most around the organization feel that Petry is here to stay, and with top four upside, a smooth skating stride, and a 6’3, 200 pound frame his stay could very well be a long one. He is undoubtedly one of the key building blocks on the back end for this young, emerging Oilers squad.

Theo Peckham, D, Owen Sound (OHL) – 3rd round, 75th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 70

Already a Don Cherry favorite, Theo (or Teddy as Cherry calls him) Peckham is the quintessential throwback D-man, the kind of player who would have been right at home patrolling the blue line for the Broad Street Bullies in the 1970s. The rugged, physical, defensive minded rearguard has carved out a role with the Oilers this season and has impressed with his steady and ever improving play.

Drafted out of Owen Sound, the Oilers knew what they were getting. Peckham posted 15 points and 236 penalty minutes in 67 games in his draft year. They were pleasantly surprised the following season though, when his offensive output jumped to 35 points in 53 games without any drop off in his physical or defensive play. That season was enough for Edmonton to bring him to the pro ranks for the 2007-08 season.

Peckham would make a one game NHL cameo that year and played 15 games with the big club in both 2008-09 and 2009-10 before making the grade full time this season. In his three AHL seasons (all with the Springfield Falcons) Peckham continued to deliver quality defensive play, an intimidating physical presence, and surprisingly adequate offensive production (notching one point every 3.5 games).

In his first full NHL season, Peckham is on pace for 15 points and 140 penalty minutes while climbing the depth chart rapidly. Many feel he has supplanted Ladislav Smid—possibly even made Smid expendable—and the majority view him as a part of the long term future on the backend for the Oilers. Definitely a quality pick in the middle of the third round.

Bryan Pitton, G, Brampton (OHL) – 5th round, 133rd overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Drafted while still an OHL backup, his 16-4 record and a lot of positive indicators convinced the Oilers brass he was worth a late pick. Pitton is a classic draft and follow player, and the old adage that “goalies take a long time to develop” may well apply to him.

Pitton has been somewhat buried in Edmonton, sitting behind 2002 2nd rounder Jeff Deslauriers and 2004 1st round pick Devan Dubnyk on the net minding depth chart, but it is telling that the team has kept him around. He is still far from the NHL, having spent all but 13 games of his three year pro career in the ECHL, but he has shown steady improvement year over year.

With Dubnyk establishing himself in the NHL, Deslauriers widely believed to be on his way out at the end of the year, and Martin Gerber on a one year deal, there will likely be a chance for Pitton to spend a full season in the AHL next season and what he does with that opportunity will go a long way to determining whether there is an upward trajectory to his Oilers and pro career.

Cody Wild, D, Providence College (Hockey East) – 5th round, 140th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Wild had a handful of Oiler fans quite excited when he was taken late in the 2006 draft, which isn’t surprising considering his impressive NCAA rookie season (21 points in 36 games in his draft year). Unfortunately he failed to show a great deal of improvement in his sophomore or junior seasons and struggled to establish himself at the AHL level in two seasons with the Springfield Falcons.

Despite posting decent offensive numbers, his failings away from the puck and on defense combined with other blue liners (Petry and Peckham among them) surpassing him made him expendable. As a result, he was sent to the Boston Bruins in a deal for AHLer Matt Marquardt. Since joining the Bruins organization things have gotten worse, as he was unable to establish himself with their AHL team in Providence and is now in the ECHL trying to work his way back.

Alexander Bumagin, LW, Tolyatti Lada (Russia) – 7th round, 170th overall
Status: NHL Bust
mes Played: 0

It is rare that the Oilers look to Russia for prospects and Bumagin isn’t one to change their minds on that front. He was an intriguing choice on draft day, a skilled forward with decent size who scored 23 points in 40 games in the Russian league in his draft year. He continued to tantalize fans with flashes of brilliance with an eight point performance at the 2007 World Junior Championships.

Since his draft year however, he has failed to produce at a similar offensive pace. Furthermore, his weaknesses include a lack of intensity on defense and away from the puck as well as a lack of willingness to engage physically, two things that don’t bode well for his NHL prospects. Bumagin has the look of a player who will play out his career in Russia, with the NHL being highly unlikely.