Between now and July 1, The Detroit Sports Site’s writers will break down 10 of the NHL’s potential unrestricted free agents and try to determine if any of those players are a fit for the Red Wings. Previously:Ryan Smyth, Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney, Filip Kuba, Alexander Semin, Shane Doan and Dennis Wideman.
In a lot of ways, Dustin Penner is the quintessential Red Wings’ free-agent candidate. He’s a veteran, at 29 years old and with seven years of experience, and he has a winning pedigree, thanks to a pair of Stanley Cup rings (one with Anaheim in 2006-07, one with this year’s Kings team).
Penner is also coming off a disastrous regular season in which he put up just 17 points (7 G, 10 A) in 65 games. That’s 46 points below the career high he put up with Edmonton in 2009-10. Penner did bounce back to have a strong playoff run — 11 points and a plus-4 rating while playing in all 20 Kings games.
Penner made $4.25 million last year, a number that ought to come down after he struggled throughout the season. Could he add some value to the Wings’ forward lines?
Rob Starrs: Dustin Penner is a forward I would love to see in a Red Wing jersey. He has bounced around a bit in his career, but he has playoff experience — a long run with the Ducks and, of course, this past season with the Kings. He is coming off his worst statistical year, so he may be off most teams’ radars and could come at a cheaper price. The question becomes: Do the Wings need another big, bruising forward, Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen fit that bill. I wouldn’t mind another big guy, and the Wings could use him if he can produce.
Max DeMara: Penner would be another player I’d love to see playing for the Red Wings. He’s a tough, gritty, big forward that is the kind of player the Red Wings have needed for years. In the event the Red Wings miss out on Parise and Semin, Penner might become a logical third choice as a bigger name, higher impact free agent. There’s no guarantee he will perform miracles, but in Detroit he wouldn’t have to. He’d be free to be groomed into playing Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi type role for the future. That kind of player is always in demand, especially when they’re younger.
Chris Burke: A big forward who doesn’t always play up to his size and can’t score consistently? The Red Wings already have one Johan Franzen driving people crazy, so why would they want two? That’s kind of the bill that Penner fits — he has talent and great size, but more often than not, you’re wondering where he disappeared to during games. Maybe the Wings could help him rediscover the form he had in Edmonton, but I don’t think he’s anywhere close to the missing piece.
Andrew Tomlinson: Pancakes anyone? Penner is coming off of a Stanley Cup run with the Kings and is probably better known as the last player to be signed to an offer sheet as a restricted free agent. While he was a productive player in Edmonton, the team that signed him, he never quite lived up to hopes. He had one absolutely fantastic year in 2009-2010 with 63 points, 32 goals and 31 assists. His first full year in LA, last season, he was a major disappointment. Penner is only 29 and will probably cost a pretty penny because he is still in his prime, but he has been wildly inconsistent over the years. Unless the Wings are able to get him for a steal, or a short-term deal, they should stay away as there are other players with similar reputations available.
We’ve had our say, so what’s yours? Should the Red Wings try to grab Dustin Penner?