2022 Season Preview: Andrew Peeke

ELMONT, NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Andrew Peeke #2 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on March 10, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
ELMONT, NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Andrew Peeke #2 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on March 10, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Andrew Peeke, 6-3, 196 pounds

March 17, 1998 (24 years old)

Drafted 2nd round (#34 overall), 2016 NHL Draft

Cap hit: $787k through 2022-23

Role: Bottom four defenseman

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The biggest question mark for the Blue Jackets heading into last season, was in regards to the blueline. Stocked full of young, up and coming puck movers, the team lacked shutdown options outside of Vladislav Gavrikov. While many of these questions still remain this summer, the team found its own homegrown option in Andrew Peeke, who quietly had a solid season for the club.

Many had written Peeke off as a lost cause. Once a highly touted prospect, he struggled to find footing under John Tortorella, finding himself in the press box more often than not. But last season he earned his spot out of camp, and simply played a much-needed physical brand of defense. Built around checking and shot blocking, Peeke was one of just two players to skate in all 82 games. With his brand of hockey, that’s an impressive feat, especially considering near the end of the season, he was skating on the top defense pair and averaging over 20 minutes per game.

Jan 30, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Fight between Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) and Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Andrew Peeke (2) during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 30, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Fight between Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) and Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Andrew Peeke (2) during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports /

A bit of a throwback to defensemen of old, Peeke keeps the game simple. He works hard to stay above the puck defensively, choosing to use his body to keep pucks out of the net. He’s not the kind of player that will run around and throw jaw dropping hits, but he’s physical in front of the net and keeps opposing forwards honest. He keeps things pretty simple when moving the puck, nearly always choosing the safe play with an eye towards defense first. Don’t expect big offensive numbers from this player, just a quiet, calming influence on defense. Much needed for this young team.

Three Keys to Success

  1. Depth role. While it was nice to see Andrew Peeke on the top pairing with Zach Werenski, that isn’t the ideal role for him. He’s best suited on a second or third pairing, focused on keeping things simple and shutting down opposition forwards.
  2. Snarl. Erik Gudbranson was brought into this group to add toughness, but it can’t fall on just one guy. Too many times last year, we saw players with too much time in front of the net. Peeke is big and strong enough to play even meaner in front of the net – they need this to be part of his game.
  3. Learn. Another thing Peeke can take from a guy like Gudbranson or even Vladislav Gavrikov, is veteran savvy. Learn the nuances and tricks of the trade: how to bend the rules without breaking them. The best defensive defensemen know how to get away with just enough.

2022-23 Expectation: Make it boring.

I’m not sure where Peeke will fit into the lineup, but this team needs an effective shutdown pair. He and Gavrikov seem like an obvious fit; both big guys who are mobile enough, but play defense first. They could be matched up against any line in the league in defensive situations, and I feel like they could hold their own. But whatever position Peeke finds himself in, he needs to remember to keep it simple and shut it down. Make the game boring when he’s on the ice – the lone exception being the odd after-whistle scrum. That’s the role he’s going to have success with in the NHL, and a role the Blue Jackets desperately need filled. Read: 2022 Season Preview: Cole Sillinger