Would You Take Dustin Penner Back?

Jonathan Willis
March 06 2012 10:17AM

Dustin Penner is having a horrible season with the Los Angeles Kings. Five goals and 13 points in 48 games isn’t the sort of production Dean Lombardi expected when he traded for him, and it isn’t going to earn Penner – in the final year of his contract – good dollars next season.

Should the Oilers try to sign him to a bargain contract?

Penner’s best season came during 2009-10, a trainwreck of a year for virtually everybody on the Oilers. With Ales Hemsky and Nikolai Khabibulin hurt, AHL-calibre ‘tenders in net and Ryan Potulny on the second line, there was a shortage of good news on the team. Dustin Penner’s 32 goals led the Oilers by a mile (nobody else got 20), as did his 63 points (Sam Gagner, with 41, was the only other player with more than 40), and he had a pretty good follow-up season before getting moved to Los Angeles.

There are some other positives. Penner’s still relatively young; he’s not yet 30. He’s a career 12.6% shooter, shooting at a 5.7% clip this year – in other words, his goal-scoring is likely to rebound. Additionally, issues in his personal life have been made public, issues that might have some bearing on his terrible season. That gives some reason to believe he could rebound next season.

On the other hand, a lot of fans didn’t like Penner even when he was the best offensive player in the lineup. Work ethic has always been something that fans and management have identified as an issue – he was Randy Carlyle’s whipping boy in Anaheim, Craig MacTavish had him on a special exercise regimen in Edmonton, and when Dean Lombardi wasn’t criticizing Jack Johnson he found time to toss Penner under the bus too.

Is the risk of getting an impact player on the cheap worthwhile? Or did you see enough the first time around?

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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 The Soup Fascist
March 06 2012, 01:38PM
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edmonton Sux wrote:

Why would he come back to your craptacular city ? Hilarious everybody here assumes its up to the oilers if they want him back. hahah.... last i remember free agent love to sign there ... errr wait.. have fun finishing last again.

Go Nucks !

Damages to city after riot .... $50 million

Average jail term for rioters ..... 17 months

Number of dive artists, whiners and fart catchers on roster ......23

Number of delusional fans ......... infinite

2nd rate smack coming from a group of fans with ZERO cups in 40 plus years ....... priceless

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#2 Dallylamma
March 06 2012, 11:20AM
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I'd take him back on the condition that he has to live with Joey Moss and film a buddy-cop style reality show with him for the duration of his contract.

That would be gold.

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#3 James
March 06 2012, 10:21AM
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I would absolutely do it. Penner was a great two-way player; at the very least, he can be had for a bargain K.

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#4 VK63
March 06 2012, 11:33AM
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Sure.. why not. its good to have diverse skill sets and body types when picking the annual goat.

On a team full of impressionable kids a notorious slacker is always a perfect fit.

White guys that listen to rap music is totally what edmonton needs more of.

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#5 The Soup Fascist
March 06 2012, 01:48PM
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Just drafting future all-stars, polishing cups and watching 'Nucks choke as soon as a game means something.

Of course ...... I had help.

EDIT: I forgot to expand, by "cups" I meant Stanley Cups, thought you may not catch the reference. You guys have a park by that name, which will have to suffice for the next few decades.

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#6 Archaeologuy
March 06 2012, 10:27AM
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My only question would be where to place him. If the Oilers draft a forward this year then we're all out of top 6 spots and I think Smyth gets the 3LW spot. And that ignores the possibility of actually playing Paajarvi in the NHL.

Draft a defenseman and I'd be open to the idea on a short and uber cheap deal.

I liked Penner, but spending 1 minute talking to Penner's agent on July 1 means 1 minute away from a defenseman's agent.

No forward drafted, defense taken care of, and on the cheap I'd do it.

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Where does hit fit on this roster?

I don't mind bringing him back, but he's a guy that you sign in August not July 1st.

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#9 Oiler Country
March 06 2012, 10:31AM
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Not only would I not take him back, I would buy unlimited pancakes at the local IHOP to make him stay away.

He is not a top 6. He is not a good hockey player.

Words that describe Dustin Penner the hockey player:

apathetic, asleep on the job, careless, comatose, dallying, dilatory, drowsy, dull, flagging, idle, inattentive, indifferent, indolent, inert, lackadaisical, laggard, lagging, languid, languorous, lethargic, lifeless, loafing, neglectful, out of it, passive, procrastinating, remiss, shiftless, slack, sleepy, slothful, slow, slow-moving, snoozy, somnolent, supine, tardy, tired, torpid, trifling, unconcerned, unenergetic, unindustrious, unpersevering, unready, weary

and fin.

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#10 magisterrex
March 06 2012, 10:39AM
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If I was getting the Penner that drove the puck to the net using his size, AND at a bargain-basement contract, absolutely. Put him on the second line and watch as he clears space for RNH's magic.

The bottom six is the real problem on this team; too many bodies and no chemistry.

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#11 Robin Brownlee
March 06 2012, 12:08PM
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“He’s at the crossroads of his career. He can choose with his athletic ability to be one of the dominant power forwards in the National Hockey League or he can be a dominant number four hitter for the El Cid Lounge in a men’s softball league.”

--Dean Lombardi on Penner

Penner still hasn't figured it out. And you can probably plug in a dozen names of coaches and teammates who've echoed the same sentiment about Penner over the past 5-7 years.

Please, enough with excuses why Penner is having such a terrible season with the Kings. Was his marriage on the rocks two years ago? Three? How about when he was single? And poor Penner, when he first got to Edmonton he was still tired from a short summer after a Stanley Cup run with Anaheim. You can't expect a guy to earn his salary after that. Mac-T was mean to him. The dog ate his homework. What is this, Enablers Anonymous? Please, move on.

Besides, the El Cid Lounge will want draft picks for his rights.

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#12 Aunt Jemima
March 06 2012, 12:14PM
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I WOULD TAKE PENNERCAKES OVER PRV ALL DAY ER DAY CAN'T STOP WON'T STOP

Why does everyone think that PRV is that good and deserving to be an oiler? If he's really that good should he be killing it in ahl? It's time to wake up and smell the winterbreeze.

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#13 Greg Stink | ESPN
March 06 2012, 12:29PM
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This would absolutely make sense if the Oilers (somehow) end up trading two of their younger forward prospects (Paajarvi/Omark types) in a package for a #1 Defensemen. I think Penner would be much better back with the Oilers than he's shown the last 12 months. But yes, only for 1M-2M on a 1 or 2 year deal.

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#14 D-Man
March 06 2012, 01:08PM
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Oilers21 wrote:

I advocated keeping him before he was traded, so I'd take him back on a value contract. His 2008/9 season was terrible but his 2009/10 season was a real bright spot for us; pretty comparable to a typical Rick Nash season, who everyone views as a massive superstar despite never breaking the 80-point mark, and only breaking 70 once. Look, I'm not saying the 2 players are equal, and obviously consistency is an issue for Penner, but if Nash is worth 7.5 million (his LOWEST salary until 2018!) and we can sign Penner for around $2 million/year, then I would say that's value for sure.

Penner at $2 million would mean that he'd be a 3rd/4th line player... He doesn't have the speed or the aggression to play that type of game... He's not capable of playing in our top six - he doesn't have the foot speed...

I'm surprised that there would be takers considering the effort (or lack there of) we've seen from Penner in L.A. and for most of the contract here in E-town...

I wouldn't consider looking at Penner... Heck - I'd rather go after Oli Joikinen if I had to choose...

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#15 The Soup Fascist
March 06 2012, 01:58PM
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Jersey city much better than the average Canucks fan selling 'shrooms and the chronic to hippies and teens on the corner. Go away, Troll. You have been fed too much today.

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#16 Jason
March 06 2012, 02:38PM
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@Robin Brownlee

I'm not really going to make excuses for Penner. Instead I'm going to look at what he has accomplished.

- Stanley Cup winner

- 2 seasons removed from a 30G/60Pt campaign

- 4 seasons with 40+ points (out of 6 NHL seasons)

- Well liked in the dressing room (though maybe not with his coaches)

- Big body who is hard to move in front of the net

Is he an absolute need for the Oilers, like a Suter or Carle or some other defenseman? No. Would he be a good fit for the third line with Smyth and Horcoff? Yeah, potentially.

We took a gamble with Cam Barker this year, a 25-year-old D man with good pedigree who was falling out of favor all over the league. It cost us 2.5 million. It didn't work out, but I'm okay with them taking that gamble (provided they don't re-sign him this summer).

I'm also okay with them taking a gamble on a big winger who has shown an ability to score. If he would settle in the 2.0 - 2.5 million range, I think that's a good gamble. In any case, I think he'd have to be considered an upgrade on Lennart Petrell. Maybe Ryan Jones too.

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#17 Bucknuck
March 06 2012, 03:21PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

He won a cup playing on the third/fourth line in Anaheim, so why not again here. If he doesn't have those top 6 expectations placed on him he would probably be fine. With injuries the Oilers already know he could see spot duty in the top 6 if needed. Penner can be an effective player if he's not burdened with the expectations that accompanies a large contract. The Oilers created this mess by giving him a 20 mill over 5 yr deal. Oilersnation could solve alot of the Oiler issues....but it can't fix stoopyd.

I agree with you, Quick. If Penner has the right coach he is a good player. You do not get 32 goals and 60+ points if you are a bad player.

But, since he is unreliable and unmotivated he is a risk. At 2 million he is worth that risk.

If you get a 30 goal scorer or that then you are laughing all the way to the bank.

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#18 oilers1974
March 06 2012, 03:49PM
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edmonton Sux wrote:

haha oil fan, or should I say Islanders west, do anything relevant last 5 yrs ?

so you're having a little fun today making an idiot of yourself. fair enough. there is something you should understand though, and i wouldn't expect you to as i don't believe canuck fans are that knowledgeable when it comes to hockey, based on the fact that there is very little significant hockey history in vancouver. so I will go slow. and if any flames fans are reading this, pay attention. the nhl runs in cycles. teams are up, then teams are down. Again, teams are successful for a period of time, then they usually experience a downturn of some kind. That is why the draft system is the way it is. Are you following moron, or do i have to slow down.(i am also unsure of your reading comprehension abilities). save for the odd exception, this cycle basically hold true. in this particular cycle, vancouver is up, edmonton is down. do you think oiler fans do not realize vancouver has a better team today? does that make the success or non success of a team through history irrelevant? depends what you are measuring. i can look at the standings today and see who is good and who is not. because montreal today is a lottery team, does that mean they are not the most decorated successful team in nhl history. does there record today erase their proud heritage? my point is, canuck rioters always want to point to their team today and say how good they are. well done. you have a good team right now. until the canucks have won a cup (or five) you are still fans of a brutal franchise that has won nothing and historically has been a joke through most of its existance. as a franchise, calgary would rate higher. and neither vancouver or calgary can claim to have iced what many consider to be the greatest team of all time. i can't wait to watch your city burn again this spring. idiot.

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#19 Thinker
March 06 2012, 05:06PM
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Absolutely. We should try to get some term as well as value contracts will be essential when we make our run. Advanced stats love the guy, hes big, has hands, and can play in the top 6. You can call him lazy and all that but hes come back from adversity, and silenced all the critics in the past. Also has chemistry with hemsky, and is the same age.Hes a good teamate, leader, and loves edmonton. I would try for 1-2 mil for 5 years but idk if hed go for that.

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#20 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
March 06 2012, 05:12PM
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edmonton Sux wrote:

haha oil fan, or should I say Islanders west, do anything relevant last 5 yrs ?

Oddly enough, the Oilers have the EXACT same number of stanley cup victories as the Canucks in that time frame. Even crazier, the Oilers have the EXACT same number of Stanley Cup final appearances as the canucks since the lockout.

pretty sad when the sh** pile oilers stack up against the mighty canucks in something isnt it?

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#21 FastOil
March 06 2012, 09:04PM
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If Klefbom and Teubert become good or better NHL players you could make an argument.

Right now all we know is we lost a big LW that is a hockey player, and we're playing Eager as a result. No gain in toughness, big loss in potential productivity and skill.

If Penner wants to come back cheap, it's not like there are a lot of guys that are available that have his skill set to play opposite Eberle.

Gagner benefited a lot from Penner on his wing.

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#22 michael
March 06 2012, 10:23AM
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i would at 1.4 to 1-8. Penner has carried the wieght of that contract for 4 years and the expectations that went with it. A revived Dustin Penner in edmonto playing 3rd line minutes may be just what he needs to become successful once again. Its not that he is lazy in my opinion its that he just dosent play the game as a big man should or could be expected tp play. His temper is that of a mashmellow. I would sign him at a reasonable price and see what the market is for Belanger and Eager in the off season. In with old out with the new.

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#23 Andrew
March 06 2012, 10:24AM
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Sign him to a 3rd line role where he should be. Then put him on the PP in front of the net and leave Belanger on the ice.

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#24 Neilio
March 06 2012, 10:24AM
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I'd do it for the right dollars. He as good with Gagner. Mayber he misses us :O

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#25 GSP
March 06 2012, 10:25AM
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If we could get him on a one year deal for say $1-1.5 million I would do it. He would add size to the top 6 and would look good with Gagner & Hemmer on 2nd line.

If it cost any more than that, not interested.

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#26 Rob
March 06 2012, 10:25AM
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I think if a team could land him for 2 mil or less it'd be worth the shot on a very short term contract.

However it's not right for the Oilers. With Hall the #1 LW and PRV needing some top 6 time to get a legitimate chance at producing, it's not right for the oil.

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#27 Teddydubbs
March 06 2012, 10:26AM
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Where the heck is he gonna play? Not a 3rd liner and shouldn't be a top 6 option for this team. 91's gotta get a look as LW on the second line IMO. BiG NO! Barb and Ernies may wish to boost their business though...

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#28 Dave240
March 06 2012, 10:27AM
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Where do you think he would he fit in the line up?

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#29 Jerconjake
March 06 2012, 10:27AM
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No, but only because Smyth is going to be re-signed and that other LW spot should be Paajarvi's next year. I know Paajarvi hasn't been good this season but I don't know if another full year in the AHL is in the cards for him. He'll get his opportunity in the NHL and have to show whether or not he can stick in a top-nine role.

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#30 Westcoastoil
March 06 2012, 10:28AM
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Pass. All the tools, but no sustained effort. Let someone else take him on as a reclamation project. I'd rather have a Paajarvi or Harski working their tail off to be in the line up.

Speaking of line up - now that the team Tambi assembled is finally healthy and everyone is playing we've lost 3 in a row.

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#31 Shredder
March 06 2012, 10:32AM
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I would focus on dmen before looking at forward depth...Penner would certainly be a big step up from Petrell on the 4th/3rd/2nd line, but only at the right price. If we can get him for 1.5 for 3 years, that's a great deal. Otherwise, let's spend some money on D, because our strength is rushing the opposing team, and that happens best if a dman turns the puck over. We need some skill guys on the blue line to make that happen more frequently...Penner wouldn't be a huge upgrade, and really I think that ship has sailed. If I were Penner I would not be keen on coming back here based on the fact that they traded me to a team that didn't work out. Plus it was the Oilers who put the huge expectations on the man in the first place with the big RFA offer sheet...

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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If you've got Penner signed cheap, you could stick him with Smyth and Horcoff on the the third line RW, and bump him up if his play warranted it.

Of course, there's a pretty decent chance that one of the top-9 will be leaving town for a defenseman.

Has he ever played RW? Penner isn't exactly the type of guy you want to be teaching a new position.

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#34 mayorpoop
March 06 2012, 10:36AM
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no. never. not a chance. stupid stupid idea.

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#35 TrentonL
March 06 2012, 10:39AM
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Yes no question i would sign him on the cheap. This is the kind of reclamation project that works, not the Barker kind.

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Jonathan Willis wrote:

He actually played 3rd line RW for a while under MacT when he was trying Pisani at centre.

I'm sure I saw him play RW on other occasions too.

Obviously it was short lived. Like I said if he is around come August and you can't find anyone else then fine sign him. But he brings very little to what this team needs to be making him a priority on July 1st.

David Jones is who we should target if we are looking for a bigger bodied RW.

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#37 a lg dubl dubl
March 06 2012, 10:48AM
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Id say sure but only if ST isn't going to resign Jones,Penner is a bigger version of Ryan probably put up the same amount of points. 2mil for 2yrs would be ok in my books for Mr IHOP.

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#38 Westcoastoil
March 06 2012, 10:49AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Obviously it was short lived. Like I said if he is around come August and you can't find anyone else then fine sign him. But he brings very little to what this team needs to be making him a priority on July 1st.

David Jones is who we should target if we are looking for a bigger bodied RW.

Exactly. Get a kid like Jones who is burning to play not Penner who has made almost $14M and clearly doesn't have the drive. How hard is he going to work on the 3rd line, and while I believe he was popular do you want a lazy player in the room.

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#39 oilbaron
March 06 2012, 10:50AM
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2 year 2 way deal at 1.75 both ways. hahaha or not

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#40 Quicksilver ballet
March 06 2012, 11:03AM
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He won a cup playing on the third/fourth line in Anaheim, so why not again here. If he doesn't have those top 6 expectations placed on him he would probably be fine. With injuries the Oilers already know he could see spot duty in the top 6 if needed. Penner can be an effective player if he's not burdened with the expectations that accompanies a large contract. The Oilers created this mess by giving him a 20 mill over 5 yr deal. Oilersnation could solve alot of the Oiler issues....but it can't fix stoopyd.

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#41 nunyour
March 06 2012, 11:06AM
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don't we have enough slow lazy players?

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#42 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
March 06 2012, 11:06AM
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I'd take him in a heart beat as long as it's one year deals.

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#43 Jesse
March 06 2012, 11:07AM
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Signing a player who is very likely to bounce back to a reasonably sort-term, value contract seems like a real Detroit-thing-to-do (ie. a savvy move). However, the oilers already have a logjam on LW. It's sort of a question of who do want to be a part of your future, PRV/Omark or Penner? I think well developed youngsters like Omark (2nd LW), Paajarvi (2/3 LW), and Harski (3/4 LW) are the ideal. With Smyth playing the role of the transitional veteran in the meantime, unfortunately there's no room for Penner. Someone's gonna get great value for him though.

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#44 Horcsky
March 06 2012, 11:14AM
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IMO, if the contract is right, Penner is exactly the player you want on the third line. Why does he have to be top six?

Food for thought: would you let go of Smyth to make room for Penner? I would at least consider it.

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#45 Eric
March 06 2012, 11:14AM
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Everyone talks about top-6, but it would be nice to have a top-9. Could be real dangerous with three quality lines and some grinders rounding out top-12. Of course, we still need to sign Suter.

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#46 The Soup Fascist
March 06 2012, 11:20AM
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If Ollie can make it back to Calgary .... (still can't believe that one actually happened) .... then anything is possible. When Penner was motivated and focused he was very good. Kinda like a solar eclipse, the rare time you saw it, you knew it was special. (Insert requisite Eclipse / Pancake joke here). Problem is - as others have mentioned - not sure where you play him. If he does come in motivated and plays on your top 6 then Paajarvi (right or wrong) is relegated to another year of tire spinning.

If Penner is in your bottom 6 who does he replace? Horcoff (unless we tap our ruby slippers together and move him and his contract), Smyth, Eager, Lander, Paajarvi (unless he is in the top 6) are locks.

Belanger can't easily be moved. Jones is a fan favorite and arguably very effective. Plus you need to account for anyone moving up from OKC including Omark or Hartikainen). So to take Penner (and his baggage) you need to walk away from Petrell and / or Hordi plus leave some young guys in the minors or trade Ryan Jones. Certainly it can be done, but to me the risk is greater than the reward. As mentioned above if as a GM I could get David Jones (also having a down year) for similar money, I am increasing odds of success and reducing the chances of looking like a bigger schmoe than I already do.

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#47 Wanye
March 06 2012, 11:22AM
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MY 2008 ARTICLES CONTINUE TO BE RELEVANT!*

*Reading the commenters that were here back in '08 is like going to a high school reunion

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#48 nofool6110
March 06 2012, 11:33AM
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Absofreakinglutely, but not because he's Penner, but because he fits my bill of what this team needs.

Watch Eberle and RNH in these last few games not on the powerplay (so basically, the whole game). They're damn good players, we all know that, but they enter the zone against the Dallases or the Phoenixes and are rubbed off by the Yandles and Sourays of the league.

Say what you will about playing Paajarvi there - he hasn't cut it this season. Smyth was good when he had legs. Jones, I think, is better suited to a third line role, but I still don't know why he hasn't been tested there...

Penner creates space, it's what he does. Beyond that, he can convert a pass, which Petrell really hasn't been able to do...

Fine, I'll just spit it out: I BELIEVE IN PANCAKES. BRING HIM BACK.

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#49 hamzinoilcntry
March 06 2012, 11:37AM
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Yes I think if the price is right you gotta try for him. He can be so effective when he wants to be. Maybe some heart and soul time with rayn Smyth can help him refind his groove. *plus i could dust of Penner jersey in closet*

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#50 Dman09
March 06 2012, 11:49AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If you've got Penner signed cheap, you could stick him with Smyth and Horcoff on the the third line RW, and bump him up if his play warranted it.

Of course, there's a pretty decent chance that one of the top-9 will be leaving town for a defenseman.

I find this very interesting. We all know that Tambo has said his number 1 task in the off season is to find a #1-2 dman and I can't imagine any way he could do it without getting rid of a roster player. MPS really hasn't played well and in reality hasn't earned another trip to the NHL unless he really lights things up in training camp and pre-season, same goes for Lander.

Now assuming they do trade for a dman and they decide not to resign Petrell, How would a third line with Omark, Penner and likely horcoff look?

We all know that Penner can finish a play, 30 goals shows that. Omark and Horcoff working the boards and penner sitting infront of the net. It actually sounds like a pretty damn good idea to me.

Also Tambo seems unwilling to part with any of the young players, I don't blame him, which leads me to wonder who would be heading out of town. Jones, Eager, Belanger...... Can you really make anything trade worthy from these guys and draft picks?

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