There are so many things at play when you look at Dustin Penner’s lack of offensive production. In no particular order, you have:
1. A player who has historically been streaky;
2. Fitness issues that followed him from Edmonton to here;
3. A reputation for a lack of compete level;
4. Being relegated to third line duties; and
5. His coach being Terry Murray (look at his goal and point totals before coming here).
You then factor in a contract year and $4.25 million per season as the “bar”, and you would hope external and internal motivation would be a non-issue. Nobody likes a pay cut.
Yet, here we are. He has played 9 games. He has no goals, one assist and is a -1. He has 10 shots on goal, 4 of which came in the 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
I think Howard nailed it when he wrote this is Dustin’s last season with the Kings, almost regardless of how he performs. Now that he is underwhelming on the offensive stat sheet, I am starting to question if he will be here by the trade deadline. I also question if Dean Lombardi looks at Dustin Penner and regrets the trade.
Let’s talk about numbers 4 and 5. Remember Teddy Purcell? Pretty damn impressive last season, eh? 17 goals, 34 assists and a +5. “It was a fluke!” Was it? This season, 10 games played, 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points. I know talking about such things may make beat writers shutter because the question, “coach, do you find it odd that players who struggle offensively here go on to have nice seasons elsewhere?” would never make the list (unless Surly is going undercover), but how many examples does one need? There have been a few, some would say more than a few. Does that mean Terry Murray is to blame for Dustin Penner’s lack of production? Of course not. It’s just a factor, but it brings me back to the Penner Paradox. Why the hell can’t this 6’4″, alleged 245 pound bear score goals?
I don’t have an answer for it. It may be all 5 create barriers that Penner simply cannot break through. Is he done, washed up, nice knowing you Dustin but, next stop, Europe or some team trying to reach the Salary Cap floor? Perhaps he is about to go on a tear and we and he just don’t know it yet. Wouldn’t it be nice if that starts against his former team, the Oilers, this Thursday? It may be none of the above and there is a 6, 7, 8 or other reasons I haven’t even considered.
Regardless, it’s a paradox and I would like to solve it.