LA KINGS PLAYER PROFILE: DUSTIN PENNER AND EXPECTATIONS

Who is Dustin Penner? What does he bring? How will he help? Why does he fit?

If you are as hockey obsessed as Surly & I, you may have read every article you could get your hands on from proclaimed (self and otherwise) experts, media, and bloggers about the Dustin Penner trade that sent Colten Popcorn Teubert, a 2011 1st round pick and a conditional 3rd to the Edmonton Oilers.

But how much do you really know about Dustin Penner? If you have been paying attention, you know this much thanks to our blogging friends at Putting on the Foil…I think Racki over there may still be in shock over the trade. I have offered my condolences and any information he seeks about our former 1st round pick, Colten Teubert.

As for you, want to know more about Penner? What kind of obsessive fellow LA Kings‘ fan would I be if I didn’t offer such.

WHO IS DUSTIN PENNER?

A 28 year old, 6’4″, 245 pound left wing that was undrafted and started his rookie season with the Anaheim Ducks in 2005-2006.

A few borrowed facts I have learned.

Penner became only the second man in Oilers’ history to lead the team in Goals, Assists, Points, and +/- in a single season

Only twenty wingers have scored more goals than Penner in the last four seasons and only eleven wingers have scored more goals than Penner in the last two seasons.

WHAT DOES DUSTIN PENNER BRING?

First, ask yourself this question. What does Anze Kopitar?

Size – 6’3″, 219 pounds. Soft hands – a wicked wrist shot and an accurate slapper.

Style – Strong with the puck and without. Willingness to play both ends of the ice.

Durability – rarely injured, has played nearly each game since he came into the league in 2006-2007 (one season after Penner).

Aggravating factor – tendency to stop skating (coasting), not enough drive to the middle of the offensive zone and net, inconsistent offensively and tendency to go on cold streaks.

Let’s look at Dustin Penner.

Size – bigger than Kopitar.

Style – Has soft hands. A great wrist and slap shot that finds the back of the net. 137 shots on goal with a .153 (over 15%) shooting percentage. Kopitar, by comparison, is 206 shots and .097 (over 9%) shooting percentage. The last time Anze Kopitar reached the 15% mark was his second season where he put up 32 goals and 77 points.  Plays both ends of the ice though arguably not as effectively as Anze. A puck possession King (pun intended), very difficult to knock off the puck and uses size well.

Durability – Just like Anze, he has played nearly every game of every season of the past five.

X-factor – He has developed an edge he lacked 2 + season ago. He defends teammates, engages in scrums, fights (he has fought Jack Johnson and recall he jumped Doughty after the Taylor Hall hit early in the season) and is a character guy in the locker room.

Aggravating factors – inconsistent offensively, has a tendency to go on cold streaks.

What does Dustin Penner offer that Kopitar does not? A drive to the hashmarks, between the circles and net. A willingness to park in front of the goalie and pick up rebounds at will.

HOW WILL DUSTIN PENNER HELP?

Ryan Smyth made Anze Kopitar better because of Smyth’s willingness to go to the net, draw traffic to him and give Kopitar time and space to shoot the puck. When Anze did not score on his own, Ryan Smyth picked up the rebounds and wreaked havoc. Enter Dustin Penner, just as capable as Smyth to the net and screening the goalie but with a dimension Ryan doesn’t bring. Size and strength. The last two qualities translate to the LA Kings finally getting what this team has sorely lacked for the better part of three seasons. Depth at net crashers. Before, the only consistent offensive force with his ass in the goalie’s face 5 on 5 was Ryan Smyth and, when duty called, Michal Handzus on the powerplay. We no longer have to rely on number 94 to do all the work or our defensively minded center to be the only other to chip in. Penner becomes a third or, in this case, the net presence we have lacked on the first line.

Dustin Penner’s puck handling and possession skills will also take a great burden off Anze Kopitar along the boards. If Kopitar has the puck along the boards and has a lane, he can shoot knowing Penner is in front of the net. If Penner has the puck at the half boards and cycling, Kopitar can find himself open because Dustin Penner will have drawn one to two of the opposing team’s defenders to him. That means Anze can and must get to where he hasn’t been for most of the season – the hash marks, between the circles and inside it.

On the powerplay? Two lines with front of the net presence to pick up rebounds resulting from point shots (that “finish” we have so lacked) but more importantly two players (Kopitar and Penner) who bring the identical skill set with the puck. It won’t be enough for opposing teams to double team Anze anymore and shut him down. Put pressure on Kopitar and Dustin Penner gets the puck, Kopitar gets open. Pressure Penner with the puck, he cycles to Kopitar and Penner goes to the net. Getting excited yet? There is more.

WHY DOES DUSTIN PENNER FIT?

Our top three lines (assuming Penner, Smyth and Handzus don’t play on the same line) now have a complimentary style. Let’s break it down.

Our three centers are Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll and Michael Handzus. Each are two way centers. Kopitar and Stoll bring a skill set designed to bury the puck in the net while opening lanes through time and space for their wingers. Michael Handzus offers a shut down role and the ability to play against the opposing team’s top line thereby giving Kopitar and Stoll a greater offensive role. Michal Handzus no longer has to fit into a role that isn’t designed for him. Zeus does not belong at left wing and does not fit on the first line. He has always been his best when suffocating opposing forwards. All three are good in the faceoff circle, Stoll being nothing short of excellent.

Our right wings comprise of power and speed. Dustin Brown and Justin Williams can skate. Williams is the most skilled and adept at taking the puck over the blue line while drawing bodies to him and dishing it off to a streaking center or trailing defenseman. Brownie has a simpler game when he excels. Head up, skate in, go to the net, dish it off to an open left wing or center – without the puck, hit hard and draw penalties. Wayne Simmonds is the hybrid between Justin Williams and Dustin Brown. Less speed but a nose for the net. Strong with the puck and the ability to take a hit without losing the biscuit. Wanna fight? He will kick your ass from here to the ice bath after the game.

At left wing? We already discussed Penner and Smyth. I promise you the similarities of what they bring with Dustin Penner adding elements Ryan Smyth lacks will jump out at you in the first 5-10 games. Whether Kyle Clifford or Alexei Ponikarovsky take the third line left wing is really irrelevant. Both bring size, speed and, though not an offensive prowess, a power game that focuses on hitting and strong boards play. Kyle Clifford also likes to fight from time to time…

Each line balances size, speed and the “heavy” game Terry Murray covets without sacrificing defense.

And the fourth line? If it becomes Trevor Lewis centering Brad Richardson and Kyle Clifford, ask yourself what NHL team has a faster and better no quit energy line than that?

The next question we haven’t yet asked, is WWTMD – what will Terry Murray do?

We all know how he loves to shuffle lines. It has been a constant source of my aggravation. It is my sincere hope that Dustin Penner’s acquisition tempers Murray’s approach. Kopitar and Penner will need time to develop chemistry. When they do, goodness help opposing teams. If he can keep those two intact, either Williams or Brown can nicely fill the first line right wing spot. Smyth and Stoll belong together. Fortunately, Terry has kept them as a duo for most of the season. I don’t expect that will change. Wayne Simmonds excels on the third line with Handzus and Ponikarovsky. That is the shut down line. It has succeeded before when kept as one. It shall again.

Add our depth and strength on defense and solid goaltending from Jonathan Quick and, when needed, Jonathan Bernier and it is no stretch to state Dustin Penner’s arrival to the LA Kings marks the first time in many seasons the Kings have a round peg in a round hole in each of their top three lines without the need to juggle or fit players in roles that don’t play to their strengths. It is amazing that one player in one position can bring such balance but it highlights how critical the LA Kings’ need at left wing has been for the past several seasons…Dwight King…for the love of the hockey gods, Dwight King.

WHERE WE GO FROM HERE?

There are those that don’t share my enthusiasm of Dustin Penner’s arrival. One of them is a fellow blogger, one whom I respect and like. He’s wrong. I am right. It may not happen overnight. While Penner’s strengths play to the LA Kings’ system (assuming Terry Murray doesn’t strangle his creative offense skill set), he will have to adjust to his linemates and each of their tendencies. I foresee this to take the 5 to 10 games mentioned earlier. I also expect our powerplay will be the fastest beneficiary.

I saved a final fact for last. The Kings now have four former Edmonton Oilers on their team – Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene and Dustin Penner. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t the last time the Kings had this many prominent former Oilers wearing a Kings’ jersey the 1993 Cup run with Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Marty McSorley, Charlie Huddy, et al?

Let history repeat itself, less one illegal stick and far more to offer from the back end out until one day soon the other Dustin, our captain, is the first to lift the Stanley Cup at center ice. GO KINGS!



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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17 replies

  1. It is hard not to be enthusiastic when a new player comes. I hope he does well.

    I am somewhat concerned about a lot of the bad press Penner has received over the years, and perhaps there is a kernel of truth to it. He does seem a bit–I can’t think of any other word–flippant–in interviews, particularly when challenged.

    On the other hand, I don’t think Lombardi gave up all that much. Hopefully, DL will come out of this looking like a genius…

  2. I will now be referring everyone I know to this article.

  3. So far I think Dean-o has made great deals when Coach Murray’s opinion has been left out.

    All 3 of our Ex-Oilers are here due to Masterful trades by Dean-o

    This one may just be his finest.

    The Bummer is that we look forward to the draft each year, maybe because we’ve grown increasingly addicted to it. It’s been preached to us by Dean-o, that rebuilding starts with the draft, rather than free agency. It’s been a long time since the Kings went to the draft without a pick in the 1st round. This is a sign, we’re close…..

    Big ( VERY ) big Body, Winger, experienced, puck possessor, sniper, net crasher

    Not alot of them come around, 1st round or later that can score 20+ consistently, and 30-40 with the right center. He almost hit 30 his first full season with Getzlaf as his center.

    As for Teubert, fell down in the Depth chart below, Muzzin, Forbert & Deslaurier in most opinions, getting to play with Eberle might be the saving situation for him, Good Luck.

    NOW the Kings did have a bigger forward first round draft pick, that coach Murray gave up on, and was tossed away by Dean-o. AND Poni has been a consistent 20+ goal scorer two way winger for years, is only 20 lbs lighter than Penner, BUT since Coach Murray got his dinosaur bones into him, he’s our “BIGGEST” disappointment and an overpaid Bust…….

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that OUR Coach has been left out of the comings and goings, leaving Dean-o to appear less in tune…….

    It was our Coach Murray that FORGOT about Matt Moulson making the Kings opening day roster, getting injured, then remaining in Manchester with Purcell to elevate him to MVP, only to be unsigned, and unappreciated here. I ONLY blame Murray for Moulson, we sucked that season, and got Schenn at the draft, and Moulson got picked up by the worst team in the league to play with his friend Tavares, way to evaluate Coach.
    Boyle…….had no confidence under Murray, and all I ever heard was Insults, too soft, lazy, etc…..So now….BOTH NY teams top scoring players were both evaluated as SHIT by our Coach.
    Purcell??? Well anyone could have seen he was confused and lost under Coach Murray & Jamie Kompon ( I better not Leave Out the genius of our offensive designs) We all had hopes for him.
    Moulson…Boyle…Purcell….Purcell gets MVP…look who his line mates are, look at where they are now, and what coach changed them from something to nothing…..then off they go and they’re all Pretty Much Something….some Really Something.

    So IF>>> the Penner thing starts to resemble the Poni thing, and we start pointing our fingers at Dean-o……….2011 day one of the draft, NO PICK????? Call for Murray’s Head

    • I suppose we are now Los Edmondelphiangeles Kings fans!?!

      No 1st round next year? That non-pick might get a preseason NHL tryout in 2015 and might play by 2015 or ’16. I could go blind before that pick sees his first NHL game.

      He’d then need to displace 23 year olds like Schenn, Vey, Loktionov and about six others to break the line up. Is the pick that meaningful?

      Purcell is gone…it happens. 40 games on the 1st line wasn’t enough? I’m surprised he didn’t request a separate locker room. So he had a hat trick in an 8-3 rout of Phoenix (8-3) last week, otherwise…just 12 goals on the season.

      Boyle barely avoided being sent down, has since played well in all areas and is on target for 25 goals. Here is one that got away. But look how well we are playing.

      Is Moulson really worth the resulting team cohesion we see now? He’s better off as a hero on the Island. Meanwhile how many games were lost while Moulson got 28 goals and sits at -11? A little more defense and he’s a 20-25 goal guy.

      Penner? We’ll have some idea in two weeks, but the risk is easily worth the cost.

      Poni is only now regaining his form. Why so long beats me. Great hands, no, but is back to skating well and killing penalties. Now through the end of the season is the time to judge him.

      • All points well taken……..my venting can take most fans for a loop

        We will never know how well these players would have done here, and my point revolves around a common element. Our current Coach and his elauation of players.

        I feel as do the current players on the Kings, that Dean made this move for US.
        Our reward for the cap era, and future CBA coming. Smart and purposeful.
        I hear so much blame on him for guys like Moulson & Boyle getting away, when it was the Coaches views that made them not workable

  4. “…it is no stretch to state Dustin Penner’s arrival to the LA Kings marks the first time in many seasons the Kings have a round peg in a round hole in each of their top three lines without the need to juggle or fit players in roles that don’t play to their strengths.” Nicely put. Thanks for the comparison between Penner and Kopi. I also really liked that final fact about the number of ex-Oilers players – gives me hope!

    Thanks for the post, guys.

  5. By the numbers

    Moulson 64gp……28g…..15a……-11 43 points

    Boyle 65gp……20g…..12a……+6 32 points

    Purcell 61gp……15g…..25a…….-2 40 points

    Penner 62gp……21g…..18a…….-12 39 points

    Ponikarovsky 42gp……..4g…….5a…….+2 9 points

    Poni ( last year) 77gp……21g…..29a…….-1 50 points

    Coach Murray please Explain……………….

    Frolov got injured so this might have looked worse, BUT compared to his replacement Poni-Boy……………….43gp……..7g…….9a……..+4 16 points

    • Penner is about crashing the net. Being on Edmonton its hard to tell about that Plus-Minus.

      Until the last four games Poni has been flat since that ankle. Why so long? Let’s give him a few weeks, he seems to be ramping up his game lately. I recall him being an integral part of the team defense until he went down. I recall Frolov not working well at all within the system in the last couple playoff games. By the sixth game he disappeared…even Fox was at a loss for works

  6. Questions:

    1) Sounds like we absolutely have to re-sign Zeus this summer, no? Or, who is available that you’d rather pick up.

    2) Is Poni gone in July? Do we care? (I like the way he’s battled this year — getting out of the dog house was good. He could have folded like Frolov last year…)

    3) My best guess is that we’re on target for 94-96 points this year (barring either an explosion or implosion.) Do you think that his arrival, with the limited time to integrate, can generate an incremental 4-5 points? If not, how many is a reasonable guess?

    4) Which youngsters come up from Manchester for a playoff run? There is no roster limit anymore, just salary cap. Who can make the a difference? Does Penner’s presence change the guys we bring up?

    Just curious,

    VJ

    • No. Zeus is gone. He will be replaced by Schenn IMHO.

      Poni is also gone.

      We need their salaries off the books for Doughty and Simmonds.

      I don’t think any player has a direct effect on points in the way you are asking but Penner’s fit brings balance and that should translate to wins.

      I don’t think anyone comes from Manchester for a playoff run, at least I hope not because that would mean someone here got hurt.

      • IF I understand correctly, and there is no assurance I do, there is no need for an injury to get a call up. Section 16.4 of the CBA places a roster limit of 23 players up until the trade deadline. After that, it’s only subject to Article 50 — the Salary Cap guidelines.

        That means that if you have cap space, and according to CapGeek.com we have about $4.2MM available. That’s more than enough to bring up 4-6 guys if they ant. Now, that mean a crowded pressbox. Oh, shit. It also means more potential to juggle lines and defensive pairings.

        So, who would you consider bringing up?

        Would you deprive Manchester of a chance to win the AHL championship to get some guys a taste of the NHL? I certainly expect teams out of the hunt to brings guys up for that cup of coffee.

        In the course of 3 minutes I’ve convinced myself we don’t want to have to bring anybody up.

        • ha ha. I wasn’t stating we can’t bring anyone up. I was just stating that the only way I would bring anyone from Manchester up is IF we had an injury…which we better not…because if we do, I may now blame you.

  7. Any thoughts on what the PP groups will look like?

    Will Penner replace Smyth or Zeus in the first PP group? or will he take a spot in the second PP group?

  8. Thank God we didn’t get another center to put at left wing. I was kind of worried that some how we would end up with Richards, Wiess, or some low level 3rd line center to fill that spot, or even worse a right winger. Good job to DL to finally fill that hole after 2 years of plugging in every top 12 forward and then some who comes our way.

  9. NHL network had Penner on tonight, Talked about his new line mates

    Kopi & Simmonds……..

    Somebody please hand me a tissue, I’m working a geyser

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