May 7, 2012
Penner could be attractive to Senators
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Much criticism and many jokes have been made about Dustin ďPancakeĒ Penner, but it wouldnít come as a shock if Senators GM Bryan Murray shows interest in the 6-foot-4, 240-pound (on a good day) Los Angeles winger when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The two have a history, and Penner is proving in these playoffs that he still has some game. The native of Winkler, Man. has two goals and five assists in nine post-season games, helping the Kings earn the first berth in the final four.
One would assume the 29-year-old King will be lucky to receive offers of even half the $4.25 million he has made in each of the last five seasons. More likely, heíll have to settle for something in the $1.5 million range. If thatís the case then yes, the Senators should consider making him a pitch.
Penner, who had just seven goals and 10 assists in 65 games during the regular season, has never been worth his current salary. He did show plenty of promise when he scored 29 goals for the Cup winning Anaheim Ducks in the 2006-07 season Senators fans remember well. In the playoffs, though, he didnít exactly rise to the occasions, scoring just three times and adding five assists in 23 games.
That was back in a day when fewer people could accuse NHL owners of collusion. Then-Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe liked Pennerís potential so much he drew up an offer sheet worth $21.25 million, over a half decade, for the restricted free agent.
Penner signed it, much to the outrage of Ducks GM Brian Burke, who chose to moan instead of match. In his first two seasons with the Oilers, Penner was mostly a disappointment, scoring just 23 and 17 goals. In his third, however, he netted 32, and in 2010-11 he scored 21 in 62 games before the Oilers shipped him to L.A. for prospects in a deadline deal.
Sour about leaving Edmonton, Penner responded with only two goals in 19 games down the stretch, then one in six during the playoffs.
This season, his failure to produce was one of the many reasons the Kings struggled early and ultimately fired coach Terry Murray, Bryanís brother, before turning things around under Darryl Sutter. Hence, it would be understandable if Terry didnít have complimentary things to say about Penner in conversations around the dinner table.
But Bryan Murray took a chance on Penner before, so why not do it again?
In 2004 it was Murray, then the GM in Anaheim, who signed the undrafted Penner from the University of Maine to his first NHL contract. Donít forget that in 2009, Murray had Penner included in a package he was getting for Dany Heatley, before the latter exorcised a clause in his contract and nixed the deal.
There are numerous stories about Pennerís battle with the bulge and his fondness of donuts. Earlier this season, he admitted to throwing his back out while eating his wifeís pancakes.
But Penner has proven that he does have a scoring touch the Senators need. If he can rediscover it, landing him at a decent wage would be coup.
Especially if on those soft hands, Penner is wearing a couple of championship rings ó something no other player on the team could show off.