All week leading up to July 1, we’ll be profiling unrestricted free agents and speculating where they might end up.
Dustin Penner (LW)
2011-12 cap hit: $4.25 million
The skinny: Even though the last two years have been rough, Penner has to be fairly optimistic heading into free agency.
He’s no longer burdened by his $21 million deal, has won two Cups in five seasons and, when paired with the right people, can be an offensive force.
In Edmonton, he clicked with Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner for a career year (2009-10: 32G-31A-63PTS).
In L.A., he gelled with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, forming a dynamic scoring line that notched 39 points in 20 playoff games.
(Given that Richards and Carter project to be in L.A. long-term, it wasn’t surprising to learn Penner was willing to give the Kings a hometown discount.)
The key difference between this free agency experience and Penner’s last will be expectations.
When Penner signed that monster offer sheet with the Oilers, he was 24 years old and projected to be a dominant power forward. Five years later, it’s pretty clear what Penner actually is — a large, affable guy that’s streaky, but has a knack for playing big in big moments.
Expect teams to bid accordingly.
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