The Dustin Penner Dilemma. To Sign or Not to Sign…from His Perspective.

I wish I was 6’4″ and 240 pounds with a good stride and soft hands. I would pummel opposing forwards and defensemen and my ass would be planted in front of the goaltender every time we had the puck in the offensive zone. I would dare other defensemen to try and move me. In each zone, if someone so much as looked at Kopitar, Brown, Williams, Doughty or Voynov with a menacing glare, I would invite their face to meet my fist. Love my teammates. Hate my opponents. Be the heart and soul player my Hockey God given talents allow me to be.

That boys and girls is what we unfairly want out of Dustin Penner. We have asked Penner to be playoff Dustin Brown and Tomas Holmstrom with an infusion of Milan Lucic. It’s not who Dustin Penner is. Dustin Penner is…Dustin Penner. A big, skilled, lovable enigma who could become one of the best power forwards in the NHL but isn’t…because he’s Dustin Penner.

And Dustin Penner is the perspective from whom I want to look at the free agency that, as I write this, is less than twelve hours away (9am, Stanley Cup Champion time). Forget Dean Lombardi, the L.A. Kings and what they want. What does and should Dustin Penner want?

He wants to stay. He has told us as much and I believe him.

He has indicated he may even take less money to stay. I believe him.

But how long should Dustin Penner wait before he actively looks elsewhere? If he is looking at Dustin Penner’s best interest, not long.

Penner’s performance during the last 15-20 games of the season as well as the playoffs has washed away the sins of the season and a half that preceded it. His divorce, which likely contributed to his head and heart being in another place, has commenced and, if it’s not over yet, should be soon enough. He has built a nice momentum for himself and he fits on any team that looks to add a big and skilled power forward for a $3.5 to $5 million cap hit…which is about 29 teams in the league by my count (sorry Philadelphia, you don’t get him). That means he will be coveted by (a) any team that is not in the Zach Parise sweepstakes and (b) any team that strikes out on the Zach Parise sweepstakes. With the Kings showing that size matters if you want to win a Cup, what better way for a promising or contending NHL team to attain that size than take the biggest player on our team?

That means Dustin Penner is in short supply and there should be a high demand with one but…he is having wrist surgery. This will make some GMs pause. We know little to nothing about the nature and extent of the surgery but the words “soft hands” and “wrist surgery” don’t collide well. If his surgery is not serious, and I am Dustin Penner, I don’t wait. I actively shop my services starting on July 1. Why? Because I would know what I am worth in the market, whether Dean Lombardi is serious about signing me, pressure Dean Lombardi to make a decision or lose me and maximize my chances of returning to the team with whom I just won a Stanley Cup and want to stay. To delay the signing (especially if the L.A. Kings are serious about trying to land Zach Parise which I still believe they are despite all of the malcontents who claim otherwise) would cause the teams that are not in the running for Parise to fill their holes. Demand comes down. Supply stays the same. Good for Lombardi. Not good for Penner. See Alexander Frolov for a similar scenario.

How will Dustin Penner resolve this dilemma? Don’t know. But unless we actually land Parise, I sure as hell hope Penner stays. I would miss him.

Go Kings!

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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19 replies

  1. I believe the Kings should go after Parise, Suter or Whitney.
    King or Gagne can move to Penner’s spot. If Gagne gets hurt again then King sinks or swims. He showed good scoring touch much better than Nolan, especially in the skate around goal top shelf against St. Louis or Phoenix I don’t remember, sorry.
    If Penner leaves and lights it up somewhere else ok, the other option is to give him 4th liner money 1.5 million for 3 seasons and see if he takes it. Then he can play 2nd, 3rd or 4th line when needed and depending on how he’s playing.
    That will allow the Kings to keep salary cap flexibility and he has a chance to another cup or three.
    I still think we need a second d’man with a consistent canon shot and that can skate.
    Can you imagine Suter and Doughty on the powerplay together, o my God!
    Go Kings!!

  2. The issue is that Penner is, as you said, an enigma. We are not sure which Penner we will see in the regular season. Parise, on the other hand, is consistent and one of the hardest working players in the league. He costs more but the idea of a Parise-Richards-Carter line has me salivating. You could argue that Penner is important in the room, as it seems like the team really respects him and listens to him, but Parise is a captain and brings plenty of character and leadership. I’d worry about the cap, except that Dean Lombardi is arguably the best cap manager in the league. I think that in a contest between Parise and Penner, even taking into account the cap hits that each will have, even taking into account Penner’s playoff performance, even taking into account that Penner is already acclimated, even ignoring Penner’s surgery, Parise wins every time. Also keep in mind that Parise is only 27 years old. He is just entering his prime and if he signs a contract with the Kings, will be here for those golden years of his career with Kopitar, Richards, Carter, Doughty, Quick, Brown(If he signs again which, seeing as he is the captain and seems to bleed purple appears exceedingly likely), and Voynov(Also if he signs after becoming an RFA), who are also young. If we can’t land Parise, I also hope that Penner stays. It would be great if Lombardi could handle Penner the same way that he handled Gagne last free agency: To tell Penner that he is pursuing Parise, but that if he doesn’t land the big fish, Penner will get a contract. If Penner really wants to stay, this doesn’t put his free agency money in jeopardy because, IF the Kings do get Parise, many of the teams who missed out will likely pursue Penner.

  3. What about signing Conklin as Quick’s backup for one season and trading Bernier to Toronto for MacArthur?

  4. Alexander Semin is a better risk than Penner I think and he’s a proven scorer and only 29.
    Sign him for 3 years at 4 million per year and put him on the 2nd line with Richards and Carter.
    Sutter will light a fire under his ass!

    • I’m down for Semin. Semin Richards Carter sounds like a line to me.

    • I think Alexander Semin would fit in nice. His only downfall is a crapy attitude and an unfortunate last name. I think Sutter can handle the attitude (just ask Penner) and we can figure out something to call him other than spoog.

      As I write this, we have already signed Penner and I would rather have Penner and Alexander Semin on shorter contracts with the chance to sign or trade for someone else than be locked into Parise. I’m still holding out hope that we can somehow get Nash.

  5. Depends on which wrist needs the surgery. Top hand surgery is sketchy but depends on how bad his wrist really is. Bottom hand not too concerned.

    He’s willing to take a pay cut and he wants to stay with the Kings. But is he gonna play like he did in the playoffs and how bad is his wrist injury?

  6. I say keep him if they think he can continue his form. He’s a great tone setter when on point. He stepped it up at the end and the post season and even though he didn’t have the most goals or points without his presence I don’t think we would have went all the way. The way he played got a lot of respect from opposing lines even if him and his line didn’t convert on opportunities they created offence and opposing teams got the point they were fucking with beasts. Also, contrary to the TV announcer’s opinion that empty net carom shot again STL was no accident.

  7. Thanks for that Bobby… I want the Pancake Bad…..Hopfully Management will offer something workable with incentives and the deal will go.. We know Pens wants to stay here.. so here is hoping
    GO KINGS GO!!!

  8. I’m surprised at how quickly everyone’s opinion has changed about Penner. This was the guy that was benched twice during the season due to his lack of effort. He played on all 4 lines last year and when King was called up, he couldnt crack the top six. Now I loved what he did in the playoffs, but you need a full season from the guy. What will it take to re-sign him, I couldn’t tell you, but why would you spend time contemplating what money to pay for a checking line forward? If they want a big body in the top six, move up King to the second line and keep Nolan in the lineup. Those guys gave the Kings size and physicality instantly, something Penner couldn’t do for half a season.


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