Jun 4, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Penner (25) moves the puck down the ice against Chicago in game three of the Western Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports2
The Kings have been unable to reatain any of their Unrestricted Free Agents this summer. They have already fallen victim to Rob Scuderi skipping town and returning to Pittsburgh and Brad Richardson leaving Los Angeles for Vancouver. That leaves only Dustin Penner standing between the Kings and going oh for three in bringing back their UFAs this off-season.
It has been reported that Penner does indeed want to return to Los Angeles, even if he had to take a pay cut, which is very likely. But, things have begun to drag on with his contract and even Penner himself seems to not like the waiting.
When the Kings acquired Penner back in 2011, they were hoping he would come in as a cemented top six forward and solve some of the Kings’ offensive struggles. However, things have not exactly played out that way.
In his time with the Kings, he has played in 117 regular season games and has scored just 11 goals and recorded 37 points in those games. During the playoffs, his play improved but his offensive output was still minimal recording 18 points and seven goals in 44 playoff games with the Kings.
Since coming to the Kings, Penner has been the center of several major story lines. From his pancake inducing injury, to his overtime and series winning goal that sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final, the headlines have swirled around Penner. He has embraced those headlines and never been one to hide from the media.
The one headline Penner has not produced however has been the one announcing his offensive prowess, the headline the Kings and their fans had hoped would be read when he first arrived in Los Angeles.
One other thing is also very certain, he has become a fan favorite. So I’m sure if the Kings do end up losing Penner there will be some backlash based on that alone. Fans hate losing players, some more than others, but in this situation that may be the only reason people are upset.
Which brings us to this question, if the Kings fail on brining back Penner will they be missing out on much?
As mentioned earlier, if the Kings lose Penner they will not be losing much offensive firepower, all 11 of his goals would not be missed. Also if Penner does not return next season the Kings have some more than capable pieces that would fill the hole left by Penner.
Tyler Tofolli has already began his transition into the NHL and will be a shoe in for replacing Penner and will probably have more of an offensive output. Moving Toffoli into Penner’s slot would also make room for more movement in the Kings’ system.
Also, with Penner not returning that would leave more money for Dean Lombardi to work with and possibly bring in another asset via Free Agency, or make more money available for Dustin Brown’s new contract.
All in all, if the Kings lose Penner both the team and the fan base would be losing a class act, I know I would miss him. But, Penner is not irreplaceable and if the Kings do lose him it would not be the end of the world.