DUSTIN PENNER: HE'S HAPPY IN EDMONTON

Robin Brownlee
February 09 2011 01:31PM

We poked and prodded Dustin Penner in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room this morning to get a read on his state of mind. I'd suggest, given what Penner said, that GM Steve Tambellini do the same between now and the NHL trade deadline.

Given that his name and that of teammate Ales Hemsky are front and centre when it comes to the subject of players Tambellini can either build around or trade to acquire assets between now and Feb. 28 -- any time in what remains of their contracts, for that matter -- inquiring minds wanted to know what he's thinking.

Is Penner happy in Edmonton? Does he see promise in the rebuild that is underway despite the team languishing at the bottom of the standings? Would he like to stay beyond the end of the 2011-12 season ?

The answers are yes, yes and yes. That's something Tambellini might want to sit down and discuss formally with Penner and his agent, Gerry Johannson, don't you think?

The sooner the better.

TIME TO TALK

"That's something for my friends to read about," Penner said, asked by TSN's Ryan Rishaug about his name coming up in trade rumours. "It doesn't really bother me. It's interesting.

"I think what usually happens is the people who get talked about the most usually don't end up getting traded, at least in the past when I've seen it, so . . . I don't know, it's probably exciting for a lot of people, but to me, it doesn't matter."

Penner, 28, has been a lightning rod for debate since the Oilers plucked him from the Anaheim Ducks by way of an offer sheet in the summer of 2007 after the Ducks won the Stanley Cup.

Seen by many, including the likes of former coach Craig MacTavish, as something of a satisfied player capable of being better than he is, Penner has taken more than his fair share of criticism.

He's inconsistent. He appears disinterested at times. He's not in shape. He's not really a leader. On and on. Penner has heard it all during his time here, and some of the criticism has been warranted.

Warts and all, Penner leads the Oilers in scoring with 18 goals and 34 points going into tonight's game with the Chicago Blackhawks. He led the team in scoring last season with a career-high 33 goals and 61 points.

So what to do with Penner? Trade him and continue the rebuild with assets you get for him? Keep him and build around him? A big part of what Tambellini decides is going to be based on what Penner wants because he can pick the team he wants to play for after next season.

So we asked, and asked and asked . . .

OVER TO YOU, STEVE

We asked Penner if this season feels different than last season, even if the on-ice results and the standings aren't what he and his teammates would like them to be.

"Obviously, the culture has changed here," he said. "We've got a great group of young forwards and young players. I like to say we're an up-and-coming team.

"As you've seen from the beginning of the year compared to where we are now, even though we're in 30th place, there's a stat we heard that 24 games have been either a one-goal game or an empty-net situation. If we end up winning half of those, we're in the playoff hunt."

Gene Principe of Sportsnet asked Penner if he is enjoying his time here and if he'd like to stay.

"Yeh," Penner said. "It's a great place. You know, I've been here for four years and it's always nice to have that comfort level being with the same team, seeing the game faces, the training staff. You grow attached, even to you guys here."

Is that a conversation Penner has had with Tambellini?

"That's more something for my agent," he said. "That's why I pay him two per cent . . . I think we'll have that discussion, probably. We've touched on it a bit, but it's something you really don't probably address during the season."

One more time, courtesy of the dogged and determined Dave Mitchell of CTV: So, Penner likes it here and wants to be here?

"I think I answered that," Penner said. "I like it here. I want to be here. It's a great place to play, especially when you're winning."

Just one more time for good measure, still with Mitchell like a hungry dog on a fresh cut of T-bone: Long-term? "Yeh."

It's probably time to talk.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 baggedmilk
February 09 2011, 01:42PM
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BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, ROBIN?!?!? Someone should probably ask him if he likes it here.

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#2 Chris.
February 09 2011, 02:04PM
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Not to be a total dick, but, did anyone really expect Penner to say anything else? (Especially in light of the Souray situation)

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#3 Rip van Winkle
February 09 2011, 01:37PM
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Firstly Its Super Terrific to hear that the D-Train likes it here, lets hope its not all just some lip service just so he can get through the rest of the season without being the target of some disgruntled fans.

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#4 edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY
February 09 2011, 01:41PM
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Penners gotta stay...he doesnt have to be a leader and i think its scary to think of what he can do in the playoffs for this team.

If the oil are going to trade, i think that guy should be Hemsky but only for the right price that fills a need (ie schenn or bogosian). Ya, those are longshots but Hemmers been through the tough times and deserves to see this thing out. Its not like he's Moreau and we need him out. Hemmer is a playoff performer too. When we get back to the dance, we need guys that have been there before!

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#5 Jonathan Willis
February 09 2011, 01:44PM
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If I'm Steve Tambellini, there's no way I deal Penner. If he's willing to sign for anything approaching reasonable money, he's here for the long haul.

Thanks for the good news, Robin.

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#6 Steve Smith
February 09 2011, 02:48PM
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@Chris.

On the one hand, you're right. On the other, there's a form answer for athletes for this kind of thing. It goes something like "That's something I'm going to worry about in the off-season. Right now I'm an Edmonton Oiler, I'm happy to be one, and my focus is on winning games." I don't think that would have gotten him sent to Hershey.

Dustin Penner's a pretty well-spoken guy, so I don't think he gave an explicit "yes" to "Would you like to stay here long-term?" just because it was the only inoffensive answer he could think of.

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#8 Steve Smith
February 09 2011, 05:47PM
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@bigguy13

Meanwhile, in Boston, they're discussing whether they should trade Marc Savard for Taylor Hall.

Also, your question is whether we'd do the deal if it was right. Yes we would. That's what "right" means in this context.

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#9 Hemmercules
February 09 2011, 01:45PM
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Great news, extend him for sure!

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#10 DK0
February 09 2011, 01:47PM
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Ok he said he likes it Long-Term, Robin, do you think you could maybe get in there and see if he's OK short-term? What if he wants to leave but come back later? I"M FREAKING OUT HERE MAN!

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#11 Quicksilver ballet
February 09 2011, 02:59PM
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Horcsky wrote:

The offer sheet route is a slippery slope. I wonder what players we missed out on based on the picks we had to give up in exchange for signing Penner? These last couple years should really highlight the value of 1st round picks. Not to be thrown away lightly.

The 1st 2nd and 3rd round picks the Oilers surrendered to bring Dustin here appear to be a bargain. Considering 80% of the players drafted don't make it to the NHL, the Oilers did fine on this one. Not sure how successful Pendergast would've been with those three picks anyways.

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#12 Hemmercules
February 09 2011, 03:07PM
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Ales Hallsky wrote:

Really? We're doing this again?

Sorry, I don't read every article and every comment on this site so I sometimes miss something. I asked Gregor on one of his threads but he was too busy fighting off trolls to answer me.

My apologies for wasting anyones time. I don't post often, maybe I should keep it that way.

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#13 smiliegirl15
February 09 2011, 04:08PM
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I'm glad he's holding up my star prediction. I like him with an A. He's argued with the ref for his teammates and that's the kind of guy you need on a team.

Obviously the culture change in Edmonton has been very positive now let's hope it continues.

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#14 OilFan
February 09 2011, 06:14PM
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Thanks for the update. Like Penner would say anything else. I hope the Oilers don't trade there only BIG forward. BTW Nation Radio sounds awesome.

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#15 Ryan2
February 09 2011, 06:46PM
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Why are so many people willing to trade Penner or Hemsky for the Leafs' #1 pick that the Bruins have? Last year there were no trades for top 5 picks, but this year the Bruins are already discussing it. Why? It is a bad draft year compared to 2010. Trading Penner/Hemsky for that pick is trading them for POTENTIALLY a borderline 1st line-more likely 2nd line talent, if not a bit worse, that will need some seasoning before being ready for the show.

My vote would be to sign both Penner and Hemsky to reasonable deals (the rumored Hemsky one at $5.5M for 5 years is reasonable, and Penner at the $4.5 - $5M mark for 4 years + a club option for an extra year would be fine as well). There is no guarantee that the rookies will all end up being stars/injury free over the next 3 years. If they do, then Hemsky and Penner will have reasonable deals that can be moved.

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#16 Archaeologuy
February 09 2011, 09:04PM
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@Shaun Doe

Nilsson also had a similar skill-set. The difference is how that skill-set was applied in game and the production it translated into.

I am pleasantly surprised by Omark's strength and tenacity on the puck, but I think he is a long way away from making Hemsky redundant.

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#17 Archaeologuy
February 09 2011, 09:27PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

I dont know. The 2015 Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers still need 5 and 6 defensemen with grit. He's not untouchable at all, but you have to think that he is bringing something this team needs, this or any year.

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#18 Archaeologuy
February 09 2011, 09:39PM
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@Shaun Doe

And by "choose between the two", are you referring to Hemsky and Penner, or Hemsky and Omark?

Because if the option is Omark or Hemsky then I take Hemsky every day of the week.

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#20 derrickhand
February 09 2011, 01:56PM
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About time, something I like to hear. Now lets get down to business and trade Hemsky and Simd to Boston for Seguin.

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#21 baggedmilk
February 09 2011, 02:02PM
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derrickhand wrote:

About time, something I like to hear. Now lets get down to business and trade Hemsky and Simd to Boston for Seguin.

Pass that electric cigarette this way, because you must be high if you think Boston does that deal.

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#22 PegCity
February 09 2011, 02:03PM
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His trade value is as high now as it will ever be. I think Tambi needs to pull the trigger if a solid trade offer comes his way. My biggest fear is that all the things he has been criticized for in the past could come back at any time, especially if he signs an extended contract.

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#23 Quicksilver ballet
February 09 2011, 02:06PM
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Not sure keeping both is in the best interest of the hockey club. We still need both a #1C and a blue chip blueliner. I'd prefer they moved Hemsky++ in order to help fill one of those needs. With there being no clear No.1 draft pick this year we're more likely to see clubs draft based on needs, and our needs leave little doubt Larsson and Couturier would put this rebuild in the rear view mirror for the most part.

If the Oilers fall short there's always the offer sheet route again.

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#24 Jamie B.
February 09 2011, 02:11PM
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Well, I didn't really expect Penner to stand in front of the media and say he wants to catch the first plane out of here when he might have to play for this team for another calendar year, but I guess that's still good.

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#25 freeze
February 09 2011, 02:19PM
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I hope he stays at a reasonable cap number; he's an under-rated hockey player. The bandwagon will be full next time the Oil make the playoffs.

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#26 Rogue
February 09 2011, 02:23PM
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The last 30 games I think I have seen a different Dustin. Not the typical Power forward, but someone who will drive the net. He will never be physical, but that is not in his make-up. I think the "A" makes him a more involved player. I like what I see from him and I hope he stays and grows with the kids.

I hope it is Hemsky that gets moved, if we do move someone. Yes, he can make things happen, but we seem to have some young talent that can do that too. My biggest fear is how injury prone he is. It is one thing to have someone on the 3rd or 4th line injury prone, but not on your top 2 lines.

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#27 Horcsky
February 09 2011, 02:26PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

The offer sheet route is a slippery slope. I wonder what players we missed out on based on the picks we had to give up in exchange for signing Penner? These last couple years should really highlight the value of 1st round picks. Not to be thrown away lightly.

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#28 Ales Hallsky
February 09 2011, 02:32PM
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Horcsky wrote:

The offer sheet route is a slippery slope. I wonder what players we missed out on based on the picks we had to give up in exchange for signing Penner? These last couple years should really highlight the value of 1st round picks. Not to be thrown away lightly.

Tyler Myers, Justin Shultz and Kirill Petrov

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#29 Ales Hallsky
February 09 2011, 02:35PM
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Schultz with a c.

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#30 Albertaboy111
February 09 2011, 02:46PM
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Isn't there anyone here who thinks if Pens and Hemmer want to re-sign here, that we should keep them and let them do that? I mean, the growth we have seen from this team this year, don't you think they could fit better in the coming years? I mean, over a "possible" fit? I think this team is looking better and better each game. Let's keep them both, and see where we can go when the kids have a year or two under their belts. We could probably even get them for what they make now. A comfortable player is a productive player, and I want to see what these guys can do on a winning team, comfortable they are going to stick around.

Also, I thought Penner said he paid his agent 3%. Maybe somebody better ask him again...

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#31 Hemmercules
February 09 2011, 02:47PM
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Chris. wrote:

Not to be a total dick, but, did anyone really expect Penner to say anything else? (Especially in light of the Souray situation)

I think he would have worded things alot differently if he didn't want to be here. Watching his interviews over the years he seems to tell it like it is so I'll take his word for it on this one. If they do extend him it will be interesting to see what length of contract he gets offered. I would guess it to be 3 or 4 years, maybe ending the same year as Horcoff?

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#32 Hemmercules
February 09 2011, 02:56PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Do you think they keep Jones after this year?? I like Jones, he seems like a real team guy, he works hard and pitches in a goal here and there. Or will he be the next Glencross or Broadziak and get pitched for a 5th rounder or just cast aside.

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#33 Ales Hallsky
February 09 2011, 03:00PM
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@Hemmercules

Really? We're doing this again?

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#34 Oilers4ever
February 09 2011, 03:03PM
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Good to see... and we know from what I've heard and read that Hemmer wants to be here as well. I still think though with Hemmer's injury status that if we get a knock your socks off deal we should trade him because I do agree that Omark is the same type of player but younger and cheaper. And he's hard to knock off the puck. DTrain is a power forward.. they are hard to find. Personally I hope the Oil don't make any huge monumental trades.. this team has to grow together, even Cogs I would say keep now because he's playing very well with Ebs and Hall... On a side note, has anything heard anything on the arena or a website that gets regular updates?? Not being in Edmonton myself, I have not heard much on this other than some rezoning being done where the arena is to be built. Has anything happened since then??

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#35 Chris.
February 09 2011, 03:09PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Players can say something else without spelling it out. They can get cute with answers, avoid the question or offer "no comment."

When somebody repeatedly says he wants to be here -- on and off the record -- then it carries weight.

Believe it or not, some of the reporters who cover the team don't just nod in agreement and believe everything they're told.

I'm listening to your clarification on the matter right now on the radio. Thanks Robin.

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#36 Chris.
February 09 2011, 03:17PM
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ELPH just took a hit:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=353115

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#37 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 09 2011, 03:28PM
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Chris. wrote:

Not to be a total dick, but, did anyone really expect Penner to say anything else? (Especially in light of the Souray situation)

Ya I was thinking the same thing. I think people put too much emphasis on what these guys say with a recorder shoved in their face.

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#38 Reality Check to the head
February 09 2011, 03:29PM
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I think a team has to be careful with Penner. I am not his biggest fan. I think someone of his size should have a mean streak to be a true power foward. However, I am impressed with his scoring/playmaking ability and hands. He is also a brute to get off the puck along the boards.

I think a guy like him will want to explore his options via free agency, why wouldn't he?

I also think if he stays with Oilers for next season it will be his best year going into free agency. A truly motivated Penner is a scary hockey player. I think the best thing is to trade him deadline this year or this summer. Only way we get decent return. Maybe I have seen too many players leave Edmonton to be optimistic...

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#39 Ender
February 09 2011, 03:32PM
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@Chris.

Well, the E part anyway. Even without him, I think the LPH part of the equation is alive and kicking.

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#40 BarryS
February 09 2011, 03:32PM
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Love people here, noses out for joint for years for sending away players because we wouldn't/couldn't pay them, now lots in favour sending away players even though we can afford to pay them anf they might want to stay.

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#41 It's Hall Over!
February 09 2011, 03:37PM
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Ales Hallsky wrote:

Tyler Myers, Justin Shultz and Kirill Petrov

Sure you can look at the picks that we missed out on, but there is no way you can tell who the Oilers would have drafted in those spots.

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#42 Ender
February 09 2011, 03:40PM
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Reality Check to the head wrote:

I think a team has to be careful with Penner. I am not his biggest fan. I think someone of his size should have a mean streak to be a true power foward. However, I am impressed with his scoring/playmaking ability and hands. He is also a brute to get off the puck along the boards.

I think a guy like him will want to explore his options via free agency, why wouldn't he?

I also think if he stays with Oilers for next season it will be his best year going into free agency. A truly motivated Penner is a scary hockey player. I think the best thing is to trade him deadline this year or this summer. Only way we get decent return. Maybe I have seen too many players leave Edmonton to be optimistic...

I haven't forgotten Penner's first couple years with this team right after he got his big, new raise and his nice, long contract. He was feeling pretty fat, and I'm not referencing a fondness for donairs. He's looked a bit more interested last season and this one (some people attribute that to coaching changes) but I still don't hear anyone describe him as 'driven' or 'hungry'.

Despite him not being one of my favorite players, I acknowedge that interested or not he seems to help make pucks go into the opponents' nets. That's a good thing no matter who you are and for that reason, I wouldn't lose too much sleep if he's in training camp with us in the fall. On the other hand, I hope any extension we end up signing with him is a short one. If he gets 'fat' again with a sweet new 4-year deal, we could re-live the other side of Dustin Penner that most of us have tried hard to forget.

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#43 LoDog
February 09 2011, 03:42PM
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It's Hall Over! wrote:

Sure you can look at the picks that we missed out on, but there is no way you can tell who the Oilers would have drafted in those spots.

With no MBS probably much worse players.

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#44 Jonathan Willis
February 09 2011, 03:49PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

Naturally, I meant with the usual 'barring an offer Tambellini simply can't refuse' caveat.

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#45 Chris.
February 09 2011, 03:55PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee:

Naturally, I meant with the usual 'barring an offer Tambellini simply can't refuse' caveat.

...and what would that be?

Let the fun begin!

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#46 book¡e
February 09 2011, 03:59PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If I'm Steve Tambellini, there's no way I deal Penner. If he's willing to sign for anything approaching reasonable money, he's here for the long haul.

Thanks for the good news, Robin.

I agree, my sense is that Penner's game improves when it means something (i.e. not on a team that is 30th and ok with it).

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#47 Ales Hallsky
February 09 2011, 04:08PM
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@Hemmercules

No, no. You got me all wrong. That was one that wouldn't stop. The ol' can of worms. Dont be so sensitive.

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#48 ClosetGM
February 09 2011, 04:22PM
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You guys are right about one thing, you shouldnt put to much into what they say in front of the camera or mike. If he genuinley wants to stay he will sign a four year extension in the 4-5 mill area. That would be great for us. Then we keep him for sure but if not then we need to recoup some assets for him. Penner is one hell of a hockey player even better than he thinks he is. As far as im concerned if he was a little meaner you would consider him among the elite of the leauge. If we are going to trade either of these guys then we gotta get a real return not a bunch of never will be's. We need a top defensmen or a tough skilled forward. Anything less is not going to help us. Tambi already knows this and i am sure he will make the right decision

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#49 Hemmercules
February 09 2011, 04:23PM
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Ales Hallsky wrote:

No, no. You got me all wrong. That was one that wouldn't stop. The ol' can of worms. Dont be so sensitive.

I didn't realise it was dicussed in such great detail before. I looked back and read JW's article about selling him high. Some good points there and I suppose it's in the best interest of the team to ditch him sooner than later. I guess sometimes you just like a player, stats aside. Jones is that guy for me.

I would love to keep both Penner and Hemsky. Ditch JFJ, MAC and Fraser for some guys with actual skill sets other than "play tough", add a dman or two and this team is fairly competitive next season in my eyes. Too bad Bulin is stuck here for two more years. Would be nice to have Dubnyk fight for ice time with a younger/better goalie over the next couple seasons.

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#50 Hemmertime
February 09 2011, 04:44PM
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Now time to corner Hemsky. Though I might be more depressed with his answers, give him another win coming back from injury and talk tomorrow

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