SUN Hockey Pool

Penner nets huge raise

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

Dustin Penner's raise was substantial.

Now expectations will be up there as well.

Yesterday Penner, 24, became a member of the Edmonton Oilers when the Anaheim Ducks did not match the $21.25-million, five-year offer sheet presented to the restricted free agent.

"I'm going to face those expectations the way I've faced everything else in my life," Penner said.

"You can only worry about what you can control. I'm going to get in the best shape I can coming into camp here and just play hockey.

"I've been doing that no matter what level I've played at the last six or seven years.

"I've been able to succeed at those levels and I have no reservations of not being able to succeed now."

Last season, in his first full year with the Ducks, Penner scored 29 goals and added 16 assists in 82 games. He went on to score three goals and register five assists in 21 playoff games as the Ducks won the Stanley Cup.

NEAR 1,000% RAISE

And he did it making the league minimum of $450,000.

This year, he'll make $4.25-million.

The Ducks will get the Oilers' first, second and third-round picks in next year's NHL Entry Draft as compensation.

"The pressure that I receive from the media and the fans won't be near the pressure that I put on myself to be the best that I can be," Penner said.

"I know myself as a player, I didn't think I peaked this last year in Anaheim.

"I don't know what my potential is, but I think in the next five years I'll find out."

Penner, who was passed over in the NHL draft, signed an entry-level contract with the Ducks after spending a season at the U of Maine.

During the lockout season, the native of Winkler, Man., scored 10 goals and added 18 assists in 77 games with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks.

The following season he scored 39 goals and added 45 assists in 57 games with the Portland Pirates before getting called up to Anaheim late in the year.

"I think a lot of people look at the salary and the average based on what he was making last year, then they see it as a pretty big raise," said Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe.

"The way I see it, if Dustin continues to score goals at the clip that he's been, at some point in this contract, he's going to be highly underpaid."

SECOND-HIGHEST PAID GUY

Penner's contract makes him the second-highest paid player on the Oilers' roster next season. Defenceman Sheldon Souray is the highest paid at $6.25-million.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity the Oilers have given me," Penner said.

"I feel going to Edmonton this is an opportunity for me to become a better player and for the organization to achieve a way to get back to the Stanley Cup finals the way they were two years ago."

While Penner signed the offer sheet with the Oilers last week, he had to wait until noon yesterday to see where he was going to play next season.

The Anaheim Ducks, who had a week to decide whether to match the offer, decided to pass.

"It really didn't become that nerve-racking until the last 24 hours, when it came down to crunch time," Penner said.

"Now that the decision has been made, I'm moving forward, looking to the future and I'm excited to be an Oiler."


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