Dustin Penner: 2013-14 Season Review


Photo: Jared Wickerham

Dustin Penner was acquired at the trade deadline to improve the Caps’ flagging top six. Instead, he played garbage minutes on the bottom line. He was a huge disappointment, but was it his fault? (Not really, no.)

By the Numbers

18 Games played
12 Average time on ice per game
1 Goals
2 Assists
47.3% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
100% Goal percentage during 5v5
4.9% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
100% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

Peter’s Take

I was pretty excited about the addition of Dustin Penner to the Capitals. With Martin Erat in the rear view, it seemed for a fraction of a second that the Caps had put the bad blood behind them and brought in a productive top-six forward replacement. Nope. Dustin Penner basically filled Erat’s spot in the lineup and did nothing of note.

Imagined by some (including, I think, George McPhee) as a potential opposite wing for Alex Ovechkin, D.P. instead spent most of his time with Tom Wilson on the fourth line and a short stint opposite Troy Brouwer in the season’s final week. To his credit, Penner didn’t get scored on, but he also didn’t move the needle much.

I don’t have much more to say. No one really expects Penner to stick around, though I’d bet Barry Trotz could use him better than Adam Oates.

D.P. on RMNB

In Pictures

Beautiful no-look pass to Joel Ward for his first Caps apple. Penner and Ward are underrated and underutilized PP players.

Hitting up Obama for a place to stay.

This shirt would’ve been more popular, but it also suffered from the Oates Effect.

Cute girl.

Your Turn

No way he comes back, right? I mean– no way. Do you even want him back? ‘Cause I kinda do.

Read more: Japers Rink

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  • JH

    Wait, Penner played 18 games? Seriously?

  • JH

    I liked the guy, but where do you put him? If you wanted to keep him, who gets less ice time? Kinda feel like either Brouwer or Laich would have to go?

  • Owen Johnson

    I’m indifferent about having him back. Which sucks, because he has great potential to be an RMNB favorite.

  • Jack Conness

    I’m honestly surprised you guys did a season review on him. I don’t even remember him playing.

  • Shaun Phillips

    GMac (or Ted quoting GMac) made a comment about knowing when to sell high on assets in yesterday’s presser. I think that might mean Brouwer or Wardo are gone.

    I put him on the top line. Fehrsie goes opposite Kuzya with Grabo.

  • Graham Dumas

    I’d like him back. Perhaps on a line with Grabo and Brouwer? Or Grabo and Wilson? I’m not sure how that would play, but I want to like it. I sorta buy what Oates said about him being a tad too slow for first-line duties with OV and Backstrom. Soooo:


    Obviously there are problems here. 1) where’s MoJo? 2) Maybe we should dump Brouwer or Penner for some decent 4th line guys? 3) Is Kuzya really ready for top-line minutes? I feel like he’s more of a second line guy. 4) Fehr is equally misplaced. I don’t like him on the top, I’m not convinced he’s really a center, but I don’t know what else to do with him.

    Probably a good thing I didn’t get that coaching gig…

  • Graham Dumas

    Sorry, BRangers: I’ll take Wardo over Brouwer most days of the week.

  • Connor

    Penner just doesn’t fit here anymore especially with young talent being ready to move to the next level in a few years. Hard working player, I like the guy but he doesn’t work for us right now. Maybe there would be a case for him if he was playing in top 6 and found a role in 18 games.

    If this were the lineup next year, GMBM would have done a bang up job in the off-season:

    Ovechkin – Backstrom – Fehr
    Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Wilson
    Benoit Pouliot – Laich – Burakovsky
    Chimera – Latta – Ward

    Orlov – Carlson
    Top 4 DFD – Green
    Alzner – Anton Stralman

    -Laich is playing 3c b/c GMBM said the caps need Laich….

    -Sign Grabo
    -Sign Benoit Pouliot
    -Sign Anton Stralman
    -Trade Mojo and Brouwer for Top 4 DFD to play with Green

  • Here’s the thing: I love that philosophy, and I hope it comes to fruition. If you have a good understanding of stats, it can become pretty obvious when a certain player will consistently be that good or not.

    Brouwer and in particular, Ward, are great examples. Brouwer consistently puts up 15-20 goals a year, scores goals in front of the net. If you use him right, he will do that every year. You know what you’re going to get.

    Meanwhile, Ward shot 18% last season – 7 points above his career average – and scored 6 of his 24 goals on the power play. His PDO was 102.7. That to me hints right there that he is likely not to repeat that performance and if there’s a team that’s willing to overpay for him – then hell yes do it.

    The thing is, regardless of their awesome dashboard stats last season, Ward and Brouwer don’t provide much value simply because of how high their cap hits are. They are going to be tough guys to move, though again, Ward might be easier because he only has one year left on his deal.

  • Jeff Yoders

    He’ll be a King again by July.

  • Boush

    I’d love to see him re-signed, and MoJo and Brouwer moved for some cap space/prospects/picks/honest-to-god-NHL-defensemen.

    Penner-Backstrom-Ovi (Scoars 90 goals)
    Kuzy-Grabo-Fehr (Scoars 65 goals)
    Wilson-Laich-Ward (Scoars 50 goals)
    Chimera-Latta-Beagle (Scoars a goal?)

    But however the forwards play out, I think Penner staying would just be the bee’s knees. If he’s good enough to play with Getzlaf and Perry, he’s good enough to play with Backstrom and Ovi. The team is in dire need of another left winger or two that can actually score some goals and provide real net presence.

  • Red

    Im not sure about his fit on this team, but any blogger would do well to remember that Penner is a goldmine for content.


  • Sarah

    He’s a funny guy. Shame about the lack of minutes.

  • Sara

    Ian- Did you save your spandex…just in case you need it again this year?

  • Shaun Phillips

    Yeah I think Ward was a little above average last year, but I see him and Brouwer as interchangeable on any line. You could throw either one of them down low and they’ll cycle, win board battles, and crash the net. Even with a little regression, giving Ward solid 3rd line min + the occasional PP (I’d put him on 2PP camped in front), he’s going to be a 15-20 goal scorer too.

  • Jonah

    I’d take WARDO 8/7 days of the week.
    Brouwer has kinda rubbed me the wrong way after some of his comments and lack of skating/hustle. Also he’s not a too 6 guy no matter what Oates/gmgm says.

  • Boush

    I thought a first round pick for Brouwer’s RFA rights was a high price for the Caps to pay at the time. After a career year, think GMBM can get one back?

    I agree that Ward would net a higher return relative to his expected productivity and cap hit, but with his old coach in place, I really don’t see him going anywhere.

  • VeggieTart

    I’d like to see him come back, but I sensed from the beginning that he was going to be a rental. That said, he did fly his dog here, so maybe he knows something we don’t. Or maybe he just needs to be with his furbaby.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Good point. If anyone knows how to use Ward, it’s Trotzky.

  • Alex

    The real question is would he want to stay? In April, I would’ve given a resounding NO. But, in light of recent changes to the organization, that may have changed. I would be neither surprised nor disappointed if he re-signs in DC.

  • tpr04

    The real benefit in acquiring Penner was proving that Oates was the idiot and Erat the victim. It also hastened Oates firing and probably will contribute to him not being considered a HC candidate for at least 5+ years.

    It’s one thing to mess up, but when you repeatedly embarrass your boss, the GM, you make yourself very unattractive to other GMs. McPhee clearly obtained Penner with Knuble in mind. Otherwise, why in the world would a GM obtain a 4L at the trade deadline for a team desperately trying to make the playoffs.

    As it turns out, Penner scored more goals from LW for the Caps in 18 games with 4th line minutes than Johannson scored in 60-65 games with 1st line minutes. Yet, Oates refused to see the light.

    The only good thing I can say about this Oates’ decision was at least he didn’t lie and say that Penner was on the 4th line to mentor Wilson, as he did when he was asked to justify why Erat was on the 4th line.

  • Eric Schulz

    I would nitpick those lines, but nothing of note… other than I don’t like splitting up Chimera and Ward… I’d fix that by moving Wilson to RW on that line, Laich to LW, and Latta can play C there, with Chris Brown taking Beagle’s spot (but centering) the 4th… because I also don’t like Wilson playing LW; in general, I feel like moving wings isn’t too big of a deal, but I’d rather not ask a guy to do it when he hasn’t established himself as an NHL player. That would go back to a guy’s career before my knowledge though; if he played RW extensively throughout his career, then I am reluctant to move him. He may have played both wings though, in which case, I’m not concerned.
    I think Ovie is a LW, but that would mean we just ask Penner to play RW; the end result is essentially no change, I just bring it up because you think we need another left winger or two to provide net presence. I disagree a little; Penner, Brouwer, and Ward all do, and I don’t think there’s any question that Wilson will as well. Laich, if healthy, can provide some of that as well.
    I would have little problem with moving Johansson or Brouwer, as far as I think they are the best trade pieces we have, but I wouldn’t move them just to move them. Moving them for picks, for instance, would be a huge mistake. If we had to move both for a top-4 defenseman worthy of pairing with Green, then I’d certainly be willing to move one, if not both (depending on age, contract, etc of player involved, and other pieces, obviously). In the event that we traded both for that one guy plus some picks, okay; getting picks isn’t bad, I just wouldn’t trade them for primarily picks, if the picks are throw-ins, okay.

  • Eric Schulz

    I like Fehr on the top line; he’s maybe not a conventional 1st line player, but neither was Steve Rucchin. I think Fehr fits very well with our two studs there.
    I don’t see why you can’t start with Kuznetsov and Grabovski on the 2nd line. With BackstrOvie on the 1st, and those two on the 2nd, filling in the rest isn’t too hard. Penner or Fehr could go on either of those lines, and you’d be very happy with your top-6. Wilson may even be able to handle it; at this point, I imagine we let Penner walk, so I put Fehr on top, Wilson on 2nd. It’s an inexperienced line, but it has upside, and we have lots of experience on the bottom-6.
    That squeezes Brouwer and MoJo to the 3rd; I love the idea of those two playing together. I think Brouwer’s a legit 2nd liner, but he’s a great 3rd liner; MoJo is certainly an above average talent for a 3rd liner too, although obviously he doesn’t have the track record of success Brouwer has. He’s a passer, Brouwer is a shooter. If Laich is healthy, he completes that line; he’s actually the best player on it. That gives us a 4th of Chimera and Ward; I have them flanking Latta, leaving us with Beagle as a healthy scratch. I love it; don’t like letting Penner walk, but everything falls into place if we do.

  • Eric Schulz

    I have been a big fan of Pouliot for a few seasons now, I think he’s been a great under the radar guy for a while. He’s no longer under the radar though; too many guys will pursue him, and you’ll be paying him Ward and Brouwer money (in fact, his situation is VERY similar to what happened with Ward). We should find the next Pouliot, really.
    I don’t like Stralman as much as some other guys, but there are a bunch of guys I’ld like to see… wait, Orlov on top line? I’m gonna assume typo. There are a bunch of guys I’d like to see paired with Orlov on the 3rd; if we scout them all, then sign whomever the scouts like best (to a fair contract), then whatever. Stralman, Gilbert, Greene, Hannan, I don’t care.
    I think MoJo and Brouwer are probably our best trade assets right now (that we would actually be willing to move), but what team would make that trade? I don’t see any out there. I think Meszaros would be a good fit there; as weak as FA class is on the backend this year, I think that we actually have a better shot of acquiring our 4th defender through FA than we do in a trade. Maybe if we wait until closer to the deadline, a team will put a guy on the block. I’d sign a guy to play with Green, and let a guy in-house win the spot opposite Orlov; Brouillette, Wey, Oleksy, whoever. Then, as we get closer to the deadline, we try to use Johansson and/or Brouwer to get that guy; a failing team may decide it’s time to restock and reload.
    I also don’t imagine Burakovsky is ready; even if he is, having him on 3rd and Wilson on 2nd is not great; I’d be okay with taking a chance on Wilson, but I don’t want to rely on two players so young, that high in the lineup (plus Kuznetsov, although he is, at least in my mind, a much less risky bet). I think Johansson and Brouwer would be fine with Laich on that 3rd (without adding Pouliot or a similar FA). I’d probably have Laich take faceoffs, but I wouldn’t mind him playing LW so Johansson, the passer, can play center. If we wanted to add a Pouliot type guy anyway, just with an eye to trading Johansson and/or Brouwer later in the year, that would makes sense. I’d have to look at who is likely to be out there. At this point, shit, it may be Penner. I think he’s clearly a better player than Pouliot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they signed similar contracts this offseason.

  • Connor

    I am really high on Orlov. I thin he has 1st line potential, especially if you an get JC74 to play a more defensive style. Towards the end of the year he was really jumping into plays offensivley. Orlov and Green were same player which is why they were terrible together. I would love to see each D line with a puck mover/OFD paired with a DFD. Which is why I think Orlov-Calrson. Top4 DFD-Green. and Alzner-Stralman make sense

  • JenniferH

    I like Penner and I’d like to see him get an actual chance here in DC before he’s cut loose.

  • Sarah

    I agree, I think it’d be a loss because I’d like to see him on the top line too, but I can’t blame the guy if he wants to go back to California. I mean his family and probably most of his friends are there and the teams are more known quantities, so what’s likely to happen? Sadly, we’ve probably seen the last of him.

  • Diller M

    i agree with Fehr on the top line, he’s not afraid to shoot so it would benefit Ovi and give backy another player to pass to.

  • Begemot

    I really wish we could have seen Penner on the first line at least a few times. Oates did a ton of line shuffling, some of it head-scratching, but he never did that (I’m guessing out of stubbornness, because McPhee and the fans wanted it).

  • Eric Schulz

    Orlov and Green were great together. They were two of only 3 defenders who actually drove play last year, and they were even better together.
    Also, Carlson is a puck mover too; that’s why he gets paired with Alzner. That pairing is also better together, and is clearly our best pair. It makes no sense to break them up. After that, I don’t know how you could have Orlov ahead of Green on the pairs; Green paired with a top-4 guy would be better than Orlov paired with him, save when Green was injured… when we pull up Orlov (and Schmidt from the minors).

    If you are going to have two puck movers paired together, I’d go with Orlov – Green over Orlov – Carlson.

  • Connor

    Pairing Orlov with Carlson, Mike Green with DFD, and Alzner with a guy like Anton Stalman is me just trying to put a stay at home guy with a puck mover. I understand JC74 is more of a puck mover, but I was thinking maybe Trotz can push him towards the more shutdown D position

  • Evan

    He should have been the Knuble replacement on the Ovie and Backstrom line. Would have dominated that big body in front of the net.

  • Pat Magee

    That cute girl shirt had my gasping for air!!!! He’s a cool guy, and definitely not a bad player, but where would he fit in the top 6?

  • Graham Dumas

    Yo. Best handle/literary reference… ever. Props.

    But I think Penner’s 2L material, given his speed (or lack thereof). He could be a great physical presence on the cycle game, in which we lack sorely.

  • scott

    if you can pick him up for a mil a year do it. cap goes up. no ones going to give him a raise anywhere else. and anaheim isn’t pining for him.