The other nine teams in the U.K.’s EIHL should be watching their backs while playing the Nottingham Panthers this season. The club has signed two Ontario Hockey League grads with NHL experience. Both have a knack for playing with the gloves off, to say the least. Cam Janssen and Theo Peckham both have spent a considerable amount of time in OHL and NHL penalty boxes. Both should bring entertainment and a bit of skill to a league that seems to be loading up on players with NHL experience this year.
Janssen played three years in the OHL from 2001-02 to 2003-04 with the Windsor Spitfires and Guelph Storm. He was originally drafted by the Spits in the third round of the 2000 OHL Priority Selection, 46th overall. He was traded to the Storm at the deadline during his final season. Over his OHL career, Cam scored 17 and assisted on 42 for 59 points over 178 regular season games. He sat a whopping 748 minutes in the penalty box. In the playoffs, Janssen appeared in a respectable 39 games, adding seven points.
In his rookie season, 2001-02, Cam led the OHL with 268 PIM over 64 games, 12 more than Danny Bois of the London Knights. Bois spent a short time with the EIHL’s Sheffield Steelers in 2014-15. Playing just 50 games in his second season, Janssen fell to fifth in the league with 211 PIM. In 2003-04, he tied for third with Brandon Prust of the London Knights, accumulating 269 minutes over a combined 64 games with the Spitfires and Storm.
He arrived in Guelph just in time for a long playoff run that saw the Storm sweep the Mississauga IceDogs in the finals for the championship. At the Memorial Cup tournament, held in Kelowna, British Columbia, the Storm went winless in three games.
The New Jersey Devils selected Cam in the fourth round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, 117th overall after just his first year of junior. He has played pro hockey since 2004-05 in the AHL and NHL. His NHL experience consists of 336 regular season and ten playoff games between 2005-06 and 2013-14 with the Devils and St. Louis Blues. Over that time, he scored six and assisted on eight while sitting 774 minutes.
In 2004-05, he placed third in the American Hockey League with 337 PIM as a member of the Albany River Rats. In 2009-10 with the Blues, he tied for fifth in the NHL with Matt Carkner of the Ottawa Senators, both with 190 PIM. However, Janssen played just 43 games that season.
In 2014-15, Cam played exclusively for the AHL’s Albany Devils, appearing in 34 games. He is signed with the Nottingham Panthers for one year.
Peckham played three years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2004-05 to 2006-07, all with the Owen Sound Attack. He was a late 14th round pick by the Attack at the 2003 OHL Priority Selection, 268th overall. With similar numbers as Janssen, Theo appeared in 181 regular season games, scoring 17 and assisting on 43 for 60 points. He sat in the box a bit less but the numbers were still pretty high at 618 PIM. In the playoffs, he appeared in another 23 games, adding eight points.
He never led the league in penalty minutes but was always among the leaders. In his first year in the OHL, Peckham placed fourth with 209. In his second year, he was second with 236 PIM, just three minutes behind Craig Cescon. In his final season, the numbers dropped to 173 minutes which was good for tenth.
At the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers took Theo in the third round, 75th overall. He has played pro hockey since 2007-08 in the NHL, AHL, ECHL, the Slovakia Extraliga and Denmark’s Metal Ligaen.
In the NHL, Peckham played 160 regular season games between 2007-08 and 2012-13, all with the Oilers. He scored just four goals and assisted on 13 with 388 PIM. Of course, as a member of the Oilers, he did not play a single game in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In 2010-11, he finished third in the NHL with 198 PIM.
In 2014-15, Theo split his season three ways. He started out with the Wichita Thunder in the ECHL before heading across the Atlantic. He also spent time with HC Banska Bystrica in Slovakia and Rodovre in Denmark. He is also signed for one year with Nottingham.
The franchise has roots back to 1946. The Panthers were a charter member of the EIHL when it was formed out of the BISL for the 2003-04 season. Since, Nottingham has won four championships, including three in a row between 2010-11 and 2012-13.
Head Coach Corey Neilson is also an OHL grad. Neilson played four years in the league from 1993-94 to 1996-97 with the North Bay Centennials, Detroit Junior Whalers and the Barrie Colts. He played for the Panthers from 2006-07 to 2012-13. Corey has been head coach since 2008-09. His number 77 has been retired by the club.
The Panthers play home games at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, England, a 8,000 seat venue that opened in 2000. Nottingham is a city north of London with a population of around 315,000 and a metro pop of around 1.5 million.