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?