Dustin Penner: 10-Game Segments

Jonathan Willis
December 10 2009 10:11AM

Dustin Penner has been a bit of a golden boy around these parts all season long, thanks to improved results this year. Now, he’s being mentioned seriously as an Olympic candidate, and viewed as the offensive difference maker. That talk is premature.

That’s not to say that Dustin Penner isn’t a fine player. People here will recall that I felt Penner was a fine player last year too, and while he’s better this year the fact is that he isn’t the world-beater some seem to think. For instance, over at my other site, I was chided for leaving him off my version of Team Canada, and it was suggested to me that his success this year simply couldn’t be ignored.

Let’s just pretend, for the sake of argument, that we thought Dustin Penner was a good player, even an improved player, but not the incredible player his stats tell us he is. Let’s further pretend that his current fame is being unduly influenced by an early-season hot streak. If we believed that (I do) how would we show it? We might do it by breaking Penner’s season down into 10 game segments, and showing the season that would project to. What would that look like?

  • First 10 games: 8G – 9A – 17PTS, +8 (projection: 82GP – 66G – 74A – 140PTS, +66)
  • Second 10 games: 4G – 4A – 8PTS, +2 (projection: 82GP – 33G – 33A – 66PTS, +33)
  • Last 11 games: 5G – 4A – 9PTS, -1 (projection: 82GP – 37G – 30A – 67PTS, -7)

I do believe that Penner’s very capable of attaining either of the latter two projections. The 35-goal range seems logical enough, as does the 65-70 point range, and it fits with what I’ve seen and what I know about the player. That isn’t a bad thing, quite the opposite; 35-goal, 70-point guys are relatively rare commodities, and the Oilers could use one. 

I think that’s what Penner is capable of being over the long haul, a realistic upper marker.  Of course, I don't mind the plaudits he's receiving; I thought he was unfairly tossed under the bus by a lot of people last season, and if they want to go the other way this year than good for Penner.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Jay
December 10 2009, 10:19AM
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I like the idea of breaking down Penner's performance into ten game segments. Of course, Team Canada isn't selected entirely on point production since it discounts the importance of other elements of Penner's game.

What are your thoughts on the impact that Hemsky's injury has on Penner's point production? I would imagine his point production would slow down without Hemmer.

I might be wrong, but putting up over 35 goals and 65-70 or so points is pretty impressive for playing with Gagner and Brule.

I like Gagner and Brule, but they're two kids who are a very far cry from being actual 1st liners.

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#2 PaperDesigner
December 10 2009, 10:20AM
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So he's essentially playing the last twenty games on the same pace as Ales Hemsky usually does for this team, but that's realistic for him while for Hemsky, "he just needs someone to play with" or "he just needs to take that next step"?

I'd say that Penner has the high-end game to score at a top-twenty level in the NHL; there aren't a whole lot of players who have his combination of hands, size, intelligence and speed.

What I would like to see from Penner... is better line-mates. Brule and Gagner are fine in of themselves, but they're young and too inconsistent to properly utilize Penner.

It's kind of disappointed that now that Penner has finally brought his game to a new level, Hemsky goes down with a long-term injury.

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#3 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 10 2009, 10:20AM
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Bang on.

I would peg him as a 35/70 guy at this point. Hopefully he can keep that up for the duration of the contract.

If he does we'll get 145 goals out of him, pretty good deal for 21 million.

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#4 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 10 2009, 10:22AM
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Jay wrote:

I like the idea of breaking down Penner's performance into ten game segments. Of course, Team Canada isn't selected entirely on point production since it discounts the importance of other elements of Penner's game.

What are your thoughts on the impact that Hemsky's injury has on Penner's point production? I would imagine his point production would slow down without Hemmer.

I might be wrong, but putting up over 35 goals and 65-70 or so points is pretty impressive for playing with Gagner and Brule.

I like Gagner and Brule, but they're two kids who are a very far cry from being actual 1st liners.

Penners best (1st) 10 game stretch he played little to no time with Hemsky. (mostly with O'sully/Brule I believe)

He played quite a bit with Hemmer during his 2nd 10 game stretch and now Hemsky has been hurt for most of his 3rd stretch.

Like everyone else we've brought in, I'd say Hemsky has had little to no effect on thier production.

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#5 Logan
December 10 2009, 10:25AM
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Could you do these same level of projections for other leading Canadian Olympic team candidates just so that we have a decent frame of reference with regards to how all these players stack up to one another? It would be interesting to see if Penner is below, on or above par with other players who have been mentioned or are even consider "shoe in's".

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#6 Jay
December 10 2009, 10:35AM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

I do see your point... One could argue that a ten game stretch is probably too small of a sample size to glean much information from. However, if you do try to, it seems apparent that playing with Gagner and Brule has killed his plus/minus.

For the first 10 game segment, one could argue that Penner had a hot stick based on his shooting percentage. As well, he may have played softer opposition with O'Sully/Brule. I would imagine that his early success got him unwanted attention in terms of other teams' line matching/defensive pairings.

Without supporting this with math, I would think over the course of 82 games, Penner would likely produce more points with better linemates (Hemsky/Horcoff) than he would with Burle and Gagner in the same way that one would intuitively expect if he played with Marleau/Thornton.

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#7 Jay
December 10 2009, 10:40AM
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Also, let's not forget that Hemsky was playing with an injured shoulder with Penner which also distorts the numbers somewhat. Plus, the Oilers defense was decimated with injuries leaving Penner out there with Corsi Machines like Strudwick/Staios or other random pairings.

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#9 Bucknuck
December 10 2009, 10:48AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Penners best (1st) 10 game stretch he played little to no time with Hemsky. (mostly with O'sully/Brule I believe)

He played quite a bit with Hemmer during his 2nd 10 game stretch and now Hemsky has been hurt for most of his 3rd stretch.

Like everyone else we've brought in, I'd say Hemsky has had little to no effect on thier production.

Rememebr five of his points came in one night. I am not sure which stretch it is included with, but that night he was playing with Hemmer and Gagner.

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#10 BarryS
December 10 2009, 10:58AM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Rememebr five of his points came in one night. I am not sure which stretch it is included with, but that night he was playing with Hemmer and Gagner.

Remember he also went pointless some nights, with whoever. It all evens out during the season.

@Jonathan Willis

More relevant and to the point, bigger sample size, less distortion by one time events, what do his current points work out to.

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#11 Bucknuck
December 10 2009, 11:01AM
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BarryS wrote:

Remember he also went pointless some nights, with whoever. It all evens out during the season.

@Jonathan Willis

More relevant and to the point, bigger sample size, less distortion by one time events, what do his current points work out to.

When one sixth of a players production comes in one night - you look at who his linemates were on that night. That was all I was getting at. Stating Hemsky had nothing to do with his point totals is not true.

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#12 Milli
December 10 2009, 11:05AM
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I think Klo says he is being considered, but I find that a strecth. Do we make him an olympian based on 35 or so games? I can see him getting a look in Russia if he keeps improving his play over the next few seasons.

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#13 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
December 10 2009, 11:11AM
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@Jonathan Willis

I'd agree with this.I suspect that 30 will be a number that we can i see from year to year, but I suspect he will have some good years and some bad so it could drop to 25 and go up to 35.

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#14 MrOiler
December 10 2009, 11:14AM
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Nice analysis - you made your point.

Willis, you're insights are much better when you stick to the numbers and leave the "gut" feel out of it.

p.s. - One fly in the analysis has to do with the concept of linearity. Straight line projections are rarely true over long periods unless variables are constant. There's nothing saying that Penner can't go on another "tear" for a 10 game stretch. From a stats textbook: "In the real world, apart from the electromagnetic properties of a vacuum, true linear behaviour is virtually unknown. Fortunately, however, many systems are effectively linear over a restricted range of variables." p.p.s. - one variable that potentially worked against Penner in the 2nd/3rd segments is the injuries/flu bug that ravaged the team.

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#15 BarryS
December 10 2009, 11:20AM
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Bucknuck wrote:

When one sixth of a players production comes in one night - you look at who his linemates were on that night. That was all I was getting at. Stating Hemsky had nothing to do with his point totals is not true.

True enough, but he went pointless with Hemsky some nights, and had a three or four game pointless streak in there. Also, didn't he have at least one multipoint game without Hemsky. So he scores in bunches, long as the bunches are not to far apart, it doesn't matter.

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#16 Matt N
December 10 2009, 11:25AM
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He is on the bubble and in the conversation.

Lack of depth at wing. Small ice surface. Unique skill set on PP (classic front of net guy). Can kill penalties. Hot start.

I think these things put him on the team over other bubble wingers like St. Louis or Perry. Then again, as a fan, I am probably prejudiced towards him being on the team and against Corey "C$#Tface" Perry not being on it.

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#17 Bucknuck
December 10 2009, 12:03PM
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BarryS wrote:

True enough, but he went pointless with Hemsky some nights, and had a three or four game pointless streak in there. Also, didn't he have at least one multipoint game without Hemsky. So he scores in bunches, long as the bunches are not to far apart, it doesn't matter.

I know it averages out, but I do believe that a Dustin Penner line with Hemsky is better than a Dustin Penner line without Hemsky. If only because it makes the defense and coaches etc key on two top players, not just one.

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#18 Dman169
December 10 2009, 12:33PM
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I like this idea but also remember that if a player can maintain the 35 goal and 60+ points on a steady basis all season, it is possible to also shoot up with a good hot streak that can lift them to say 45 goals and 80+ points. Also during the last 20 games the Oiler's hadn't been spending as much time it their opponents zone because the defense wasn't clicking and injuries and sickness. I think it is very possible for Penner to be a 80+ points a season player as long as the rest of the team is in good condition and playing well.

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#19 BarryS
December 10 2009, 01:06PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I know it averages out, but I do believe that a Dustin Penner line with Hemsky is better than a Dustin Penner line without Hemsky. If only because it makes the defense and coaches etc key on two top players, not just one.

At the moment, having Horcoff and Penner on different lines means one or the other gets softer competition. If Penner continues like this when Hemsky comes back, then having them on different lines should do the same.

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#20 Hemmertime
December 10 2009, 01:08PM
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Hell, take away Penners two best games of the season and he is only 23 pts in 29 games. Good for Penner, but he is not good enough to make Team Canada. The only way I can see it is if they plan on playing him with Getzlaf and Perry, however with Penner on it it is no better than our third line will be. If they plan on going this route I would much rather have Marleau Thornton and Heatley as a line.

Sadly, Penner frankly is not good enough for the team. We will be leaving many first line players off.

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#21 Hemmertime
December 10 2009, 01:09PM
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BarryS wrote:

At the moment, having Horcoff and Penner on different lines means one or the other gets softer competition. If Penner continues like this when Hemsky comes back, then having them on different lines should do the same.

Brule and Penner work very well together and Horcoff is damn near useless without Hemmer, so they should be on separate lines to give us balance in scoring. On a healthy team Comrie could slot on the Hemmer line with Gags on the Penner.

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#22 BarryS
December 10 2009, 01:15PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Brule and Penner work very well together and Horcoff is damn near useless without Hemmer, so they should be on separate lines to give us balance in scoring. On a healthy team Comrie could slot on the Hemmer line with Gags on the Penner.

Seems to me the winning streak owes as much to JDD and Horcoff as anybody. What's Horcoff got, two game winners this trip? Hardly useless Superman.

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#23 Jay
December 10 2009, 01:48PM
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To be fair to Penner, he's averaging just over 2 minutes of PK time per 60 minutes TOI.

Also calling Dustin Penner a 30-35 goal/65-70 point player on the Oilers is far different than labeling him the same as Black Hawk or Shark.

Hemsky aside, I don't think it takes a glance at HockeyAnalysis, to see that Penner playing with Brule and Gagner (or O'Sullivan) is far different than Dany Heatley (who doesn't kill penalties) playing with Marleau and Thornton.

Seriously, Penner has 32 points in 31 games with 17 goals on the Oilers--a team completely lacking top-end firepower... plain and simple.

Sam Gagner 18 points/30 games (.6 PPG) Gilbert Brule 18 points/28 games (.64 PPG)

Dany Heatley has 34 points in 32 games with 19 goals--he doesn't kill penalties. I know SJ has bounced around their lines, but anyone Heately has played with is better than Gagner/Brule at producing points.

Patrick Marleau - 34 points/32 games (1.06 PPG) Joe Thornton - 42 points/32 games (1.31 PPG)

Okay, I don't think it you have to be a Mensa member to see that Heatley's point production is similar to Penner's despite not killing penalties and having infinitely better linemates.

Anyway, I am a big fan of Jonathan Willis, but I don't think rolling ten game point production on the middling Oilers squad is a very sound way of making a roster decision for team Canada. Penner may or may not ultimately make the team, but I hope it's based on other more important factors.

@Hemmertime - "Hell, take away Penners two best games of the season and he is only 23 pts in 29 games."

I don't that's a reasonable way of looking at things. I suspect you would see the same thing if you did that type of analysis with Crosby, Heatley, or any top NHL player who's had a few big scoring nights.

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#24 Bucknuck
December 10 2009, 01:57PM
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@Jay

You make a good argument. Penner playing with Thornton or Marleau would probably get you a few more points.

I like the ten game breakout though. Maybe defenders are more prepared for him after his robust first couple of games now that there is some good video of the new and improved PDP (Potent Dustin Penner).

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#25 Eric Johnson
December 10 2009, 02:27PM
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@Jonathan Willis

So by 35 goals and 70pts... you mean like Rick Nash Career numbers...team Canada Rick Nash.

Also Although Penner's number to start the year were completely unsustainable, he still managed to produce with 2/3rds of the top line on the IR and a revolving door of D-corps and call ups. I'd say the numbers during those periods are far more outstanding.

I say if Rick Nash is getting looked at this season...So should Penner.

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#27 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 10 2009, 02:53PM
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How much do you think Lowe has influenced on getting Penner on to the list of 6?

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#28 mowgli
December 10 2009, 03:27PM
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BarryS wrote:

Seems to me the winning streak owes as much to JDD and Horcoff as anybody. What's Horcoff got, two game winners this trip? Hardly useless Superman.

let's see him score in regulation or overtime. If Pisani was in those shoot-outs i bet he would have taken the same shots. (5-hole)

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#30 Dominoiler
December 10 2009, 07:26PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Penners best (1st) 10 game stretch he played little to no time with Hemsky. (mostly with O'sully/Brule I believe)

He played quite a bit with Hemmer during his 2nd 10 game stretch and now Hemsky has been hurt for most of his 3rd stretch.

Like everyone else we've brought in, I'd say Hemsky has had little to no effect on thier production.

Except when penner and hemmer got 5 points each one night,.. lets ignore that one...

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#31 oilerman53
December 11 2009, 02:37AM
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Man I ain't even going to BS about the way Penner is going this way. This guy is the Neely and LeClair type of player the Oilers never had. The way he's able to go out and pimp the boards and make the defenders his bitch and take about three of them have people thinking he's a bigger man's version of Nash, whatever that means. I love the way he plays this year and maybe it's a flash in the pan or Quinn telling him that he's among the top ten in league. He has the hands, size and strength to truly be great. If it keeps up give him $7million per and sign him for the rest of his playing career.

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#32 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 11 2009, 08:34AM
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Dominoiler wrote:

Except when penner and hemmer got 5 points each one night,.. lets ignore that one...

So one big big trumps the rest? Also, if anything this year it was Hemsky feeding points off Penner more then it was Penner off Hemsky.

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#33 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 11 2009, 08:38AM
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Dominoiler wrote:

Except when penner and hemmer got 5 points each one night,.. lets ignore that one...

Going off memory, I belive the first night Hemsky/Penner played regularly together at EV was the BJ's game, that was game 9 of the season. They then played most of the next 10 game stretch together, which was Penners worst offensively.

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#34 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 11 2009, 03:51PM
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oilerman53 wrote:

Man I ain't even going to BS about the way Penner is going this way. This guy is the Neely and LeClair type of player the Oilers never had. The way he's able to go out and pimp the boards and make the defenders his bitch and take about three of them have people thinking he's a bigger man's version of Nash, whatever that means. I love the way he plays this year and maybe it's a flash in the pan or Quinn telling him that he's among the top ten in league. He has the hands, size and strength to truly be great. If it keeps up give him $7million per and sign him for the rest of his playing career.

Whoa there tiger ease up. You saw what happened last time he signed for big money he sucked butthole for the first 2 years.

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#35 Jon
December 11 2009, 08:55PM
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I can't wait till you update us with the fourth 10 game segment!!!!

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#36 rickithebear
December 11 2009, 09:11PM
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JW: Couldn't help noticing you wrote this after our discussion At your SCORE blog. you even posted there to get me to read this article.

You need to revise this article:

Last 12 games:

12GM 6G -7A - 13PTS +3

That projects to 41G-48A-89pts +21

Crows say what!

It was nice watching the best forward in hockey.

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#37 rickithebear
December 11 2009, 09:18PM
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Barry want to join the crrow club?

Game winner I think it is called.

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