LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 04: Dustin Penner #25 of the Los Angeles Kings dives to play the puck as Travis Zajac #19 of the New Jersey Devils looks on during Game Three of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
2011 Cap Hit: $4,250,000
2012 Status: UFA
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The Triple Stack: Penner is a game changer*. During the playoffs, his goals and assists often came at critical times of games (2 GWG, one in OT to end the series with the Coyotes). He hit anyone in front of him, and he showed a surprising amount of speed in breaking up icings and getting in for some breakaways. His desire to win was palatable. The guy has quick hands and a smooth, deceptive shot. He’s also fantastic in the locker room. His affable nature and quick wit do much to ease tensions and lift spirits. He’s intelligent, funny and self-deprecating, as witnessed by his classy use of the Pancake Incident to create an opportunity for charitable donations of time and money. He’s honest about himself and his play, rarely giving clichéd answers in interviews.
The Mushy Stuff Left Over: *maybe. While all of that may be true, so is the flip side of things. He’s a floater. He shows up when he wants to. When not held accountable for his play, he seems not to care at all about his performance or the success of the team. Although he doesn’t shy away from contact, he often doesn’t initiate it, either, wasting the advantage his size and strength provides. Remind you of someone?
The Bill: Working in Penner’s favor for a nice contract is his strong play during the post-season (3g, 8a). It’s the most recent performance in the minds of GMs and fans alike, so it’s going to boost his
imaginary value significantly and might make people forget his tendency to Wolski about during the regular season. Some may point to his injuries or linemates for a lack of production, claiming that he’s simply not suited for third-line minutes (which he’s not) and should be getting more power play time (which he should). But the fact remains that he needs to show he’s worth the money. With a pay cut and a commitment to off-season work, I’d expect to see him back with LA. I wouldn’t put it past him, though, to see if some other team is willing to throw money his way.
My Order: When talking about Penner with a friend of mine, an avid Kings fan since birth, I realized that the Pancake King is exactly the kind of player the Avalanche would sign...four years ago. Now, however, Greg Sherman has made it abundantly clear that work ethic is a top priority for the team. Talent will only get you so far in this organization, and while Penner oozes it, he too closely fits the mold of players we’ve seen shipped out over the years: Wojtek Wolski, Chris Stewart, T.J. Galiardi, Tyler Arnason, and (allegedly) Peter Mueller, among others. Despite Joe Sacco's hard-nosed, "you earn your spot" take to coaching—the type of accountability Darryl Sutter brought to LA that seemed to turn Penner's performance around—walking into that type of situation wide-eyed just isn't something the Avs like to do. Take on a player that seems to have gotten the short end of the stick? Sure. Take on a player with obvious commitment issues? Not a chance. Also working against him is his age. No, 29 isn’t old in the NHL. It is, however, in Colorado. There’s no way Dustin Penner dons an Avalanche jersey.
The Carb Coma: Honestly, none of this really matters and even reading this post is a waste of time. The LA Kings have either come to an agreement with Penner by the time you read this or are not far from it.
Stick tap to my buddy Neil for a full run down on the Penner Pancake Menu.
What would you pay Dustin Penner?
$4.5-5 million (4 votes)
$4-4.5 million (14 votes)
$3-4 million (27 votes)
$2-3 million (37 votes)
Lifetime supply of Aunt Jemima Syrup (45 votes)
I prefer waffles, thanks (77 votes)
204 total votes