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.