It’s the most boring time of the year for any die-hard hockey fan. The craziness of the free agency period is ultimately over, and arbitration dates are the most exciting thing.
To keep writers and readers like me intrigued, we’ll start seeing various articles that are strictly speculation. The mind wanders and hockey-obssessed people like me will look for anything to chew on for a bit. Today I was reading through Facebook fan posts to see what some Jets fans were thinking about, and I came across an innocent comment about Dustin Penner.
The Jets still have some holes to fill in their lineup, so I wonder if Kevin Cheveldayoff has any interest in the enigmatic Dustin Penner.
Penner is arguably the biggest name on the market (yes, pause and giggle if you may) currently and the Jets can possibly offer Penner a top nine job with a potential to play in the top six, and bring him close to his hometown. Penner’s hometown is in Winkler, a mere 120 kilometres from Winnipeg.
Everyone has heard of Penner’s shortfalls. He’s out of shape. He’s lazy. He’s streaky. He doesn’t use his big body often. We all know that. But do you see any players in the free agent pool that can be bought at a low price and have the potential to score 20 goals??? Didn’t think so.
WHAT DID PENNER DO LAST YEAR?
Penner began the season with the Anaheim Ducks, and he played primarily with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. When he was traded to the Washington Capitals at the deadline for a 4th round pick, his offence dried up.
Penner finished the season with a respectable 49.3% Corsi, and added 14 goals and 21 assists in 67 games. Gone are the days when Penner could consistently score 20 goals and 50 points, but he seems to pick up his game in the playoffs. He has two cup rings and has been called a good teammate.
When Penner played with the Oilers he may not have used his body to his full advantage but he was well-liked in the dressing room and stood up for his smaller teammates at times.
WHY DOES HE FIT WITH THE JETS?
Currently the Jets have an open winger spot, and unless the plan is to fast track Nikolaj Ehlers or let Scott Kosmachuk, Carl Klingberg and Nic Petan fight it out for a spot, then signing Penner would be beneficial.
If Dustin Byfuglien gets his way with Paul Maurice and starts the season on the blueline, then Penner makes even more sense as a possible option to have a big body on the wing with either Mathieu Perreault or Mark Scheifele.
As the off-season goes on, the price for players looking for contracts will go down. Just look at the Nashville Predators signing Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy to bargain deals. Penner would likely settle for a measly $1 million to prove he deserves another contract and that also brings the motivation to a player that sometimes needs something to fight for to be his most productive.
IF I WERE CHEVELDAYOFF…
Penner would be a nice stop-gap while the young wingers incubate in their eggs.
Who knows, maybe Penner surprises and puts up 20 goals and it’s enough to add a few points to the standings for the Jets and if they get into the playoffs, he’ll be money.
And if the Jets find themselves out of the playoff race near trade deadline day, they can move him for a pick. It’s a win-win.
Adding Penner gives the Jets a top nine forward group that would consist of Evander Kane, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd, Mark Scheifele, Dustin Byfuglien*, Michael Frolik, and Mathieu Perreault. That group can compete for a playoff spot, so the Penner addition is not only an intriguing idea, but a smart hockey move.
Low risk with a possible high-reward.
-Over the past couple of days the Jets have made some minor moves. They signed Eric O’Dell, John Albert and Patrice Cormier to 1-year, 2-way contracts. NHLNumbers reported that O’Dell’s deal is worth $650K at the NHL level, Albert’s is $585K, while Cormier’s is $625K.
Cormier was once a promising prospect and is the last remaining actual player from the Ilya Kovalchuk trade back in the Atlanta days. He’s 24 now, and this may be his last chance at an NHL career. O’Dell and Albert are likely to add to the St.John’s IceCaps roster for the majority of the season.
-It’s early news and not completely confirmed but I may be traveling to Brandon on July 31 to go to a Stanley Cup party with LA King’s equipment manager Darren Granger. If that’s the case, I hope to meet a lot hockey fans and enjoy seeing Lord Stanley in all it’s glory!