Penner’s Outer Marker

I’m a big fan of comps. Comparables. Outer-markers. Players from NHL history whose careers are somewhat similar to a modern player who has written such a small script we need an indicator about their future. Because we’re fans, we always look for really good comp’s, because discussing Ron Sedlbauer as a comp for Dustin Penner is pretty damn boring.

The fewer the comps any player has, the better off he usually is in terms of overall talent. How many comparables did Gretzky have? Hasek? Orr?


Dustin Penner is driving me crazy. He came out of nowhere really and so there isn’t much of a template for him.

Charlie Simmer played his junior hockey for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey Association. His draft year he wemt 70gp, 45-54-99. He was 6-3, 210 when he was drafted and he was considered a terrific corner man with soft hands who lacked NHL speed and did not play to his size.

He was drafted in the 3rd round of one of the deepest drafts in history (39th overall), despite being rated in The Hockey News draft preview issue as No. 8 overall prospect in the 1974 NHL draft. He played center for most of his junior career. Simmer became an unrestricted free agent after the 1976-77 season when the Cleveland franchise, on the verge of bankruptcy all season, released its minor-leaguers to save money. He signed with Los Angeles on August 8, 1977 and he kicked the daylights out of NHL goalies for a decade after (when healthy) starting in 1978-79.

He looked like a player in 74-75, his first year pro. Simmer played in the minors for the first half of the season and then put up a respectable 35gp, 8-13-21 with the Seals in the second half of the year. They were a horrible organization, and Simmer was unable to get traction with the Seals (or Cleveland) over the next 2 seasons.

When he signed with the Kings, he spent most of the 77-78 season in the minors putting up good numbers again (Simmer’s minor league seasons are very, very good), 42 goals in 75 games. The next season, at age 24, he scored 21 goals in half an NHL season and at that point he could not be avoided.

To quote Legends of Hockey: Both Simmer and the Kings were in an optimistic frame of mind at the dawn of the 1979-80 season. That year he exceeded all expectations by scoring 56 goals and making 101 points. Suddenly he was a well-known sports figure throughout North America, and part of the newly formed Triple Crown Line. Made up of Simmer, Dionne and Taylor, that was respected by every NHL opponent. That year Simmer also scored at least one goal in each of 13 straight games to become the first player to threaten Punch Broadbent’s record of 16 that dated back over five decades. After the season, he was named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team.

Dustin Penner’s breakout season, the one that established him in the NHL, came at age 24 years old and in that way he is somewhat similar to Simmer. His scouting report is/was somewhat similar (“Is one of the biggest physical specimens in the game, but also possesses excellent hockey sense and scoring potential”) and he does play well in the corners and is a scorer. There have been reports I’ve seen with regard to his needing to use his size more, so that’s also comparable.

Once Simmer kicked out the jams the only thing that could stop him was injuries (I’m not trying to jinx Penner here btw). He did get two outstanding linemates (Dionne was among hisory’s best skill center’s, he could make plays all night long and never tired of scoring goals, and Dave Taylor had a wide range of skills that made him very valuable) and maybe we can extend the comparable to include a modern day Dionne (Hemsky) and a smart player who could keep an eye out for the interception (Horcoff).

It’s not an exact comp, because we really don’t have a lot of guys in sports history who came Penner’s route (and one of THEM was Roy freaking Hobbs).

But it’s something. It’s an outer marker.

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15 Responses to "Penner’s Outer Marker"

  1. Marc says:

    The picture may represent a pulled goalie on a delayed penalty, which opens it up to any of the games listed.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Yes, but how does that help me with this post? :-)

  3. Mr DeBakey says:

    That Islander on the far right
    Too big to be Drouin?
    How about a young Clark Gillies?

    In those days, already an full-time Oiler fan, my favourite NHL Line was Drouin-Parise-Grant for the North Stars.

  4. IceDragoon says:

    Good evening, Lain.

    So… do you have access to a time clock that my eyes can’t see, or did goalies not head to the bench on a delayed penalty call… back in the day? ;-p

    I listened to Penner’s interview with Stauffer yesterday. Mountain man may be a little rough around the edges, but this kid has ample grey matter goin’ on. I was amused when Bob tried to get him to bite at Burkie. Hee sidestepped, ever so graciously.

    He’s smart.
    My favourite intangible.

    We’re going to need some luck, as all teams do, but we have some nice pieces capable of buying-in to a solid team game.

    A few days ago you said you thought that Pouliot may be traded shortly. After some reflection… I think MacT wants his head for the game, but only if he comes to camp “in the shape of an average NHLer“. If he doesn’t show a complete commitment to the game… I think you may be right.


  5. Lowetide says:

    mr debakey: Gillies was a LH shot, this fellow is RH. Looks like Drouin too.

  6. IceDragoon says:


    Too slow & typo.


    Lain, have you listened to MacT’s (August 9th at 9pm) interview with Tencer, yet? It’s on the Oilers site, I believe. Just got around to it today, and there’s some nice insight into the make-up of his coaching team… pre-Daum, of course.

  7. Art Vandelay says:

    It also could have been the night Billy Smith went into the stands to beat on a 9-year-old kid for heckling him about the toupee.

  8. Lowetide says:

    art: Classic!

  9. looooob says:

    so I stumbled across a player with I think similar numbers to Penner yesterday, seems like now is as good a time as any to bring it up

    other guy 23yo NHL 17gp 4 8 12
    Penner 23 you NHL 19 4 3 7

    other guy 23 yo AHL 56 27 36 63
    Penner 23 yo AHL 57 39 45 84

    other guy 24 yo NHL 79 25 34 59
    Penner 24 yo NHL 82 29 16 45

    other guy 24 yo playoffs 22 5 10 15
    Penner 24 yo playoffs 21 3 5 8

    both guys are huge, college players and not drafted

    I couldn’t believe how close the numbers were, seeing as I don’t think the players are all that similar

    the other guy is Joel Otto, who obviously played a different position, was more physical (80 pims in the playoffs at 24 compared to 2 pims for Penner) and had a reputation at least for better defence from a young age

    still I was pretty impressed by the similarites. the 24 yo season was Ottos best offensively but of course he had a heck of a career. I think Penner’s path will be different, I’m not saying better or worse, just different

    anyways happened to be reading about Otto the other night. his agent out of college was Brian Burke interestingly. Burke tried to get him 750 dollar training camp walk on gigs with 2 teams (NJD and Bos IIRC) and failed, before convincing the Flames to sign him

    have a good night all, interesting pieces on Pollock the last few days lowetide. enjoyed them

  10. mc79hockey says:

    Offensive context is seriously different, which ruins the Otto/Penner comparison I think.

  11. oilerdiehard says:

    Interesting stuff.

    LT what would you think of a Kevin Stevens comparable?

    Not that they are perfect as Stevens had a better college career I guess but they have a similar body type, Stevens played 1 year in the minors and put up somewhat similar numbers to what Penner did his last AHL season.

    I think they both entered the league around the same age and both scored 29 goals in their 1st NHL season.

    Stevens is probably a bit more of a playmaker but then again I am guessing Penner’s assist totals would have been higher if he played with Paul Coffey (100+ points that year), Mario Lemieux in his prime, Mark Recchi, Rob Brown (80 points), John Cullen (92 pionts) and in his 2nd year I think he played with a rookie named Jagr.

    So Penner’s roof would be lower because he is not playing with a cast of characters like that.

  12. Asiaoil says:

    Penner is big – this is good – it changes the whole dynamic of the Oiler lines going forward. No real worry anymore about fitting in all the smaller skill guys like Cogs, Gagner, Nilssen, Schremp. If JFJ can get over his stage fright – a left side of Penner, Torres, Moreau and JFJ would not be fun to play against.

  13. looooob says:

    yeah mc I definitely considered the fact that offensive context was different (although I suspect for Stevens, and maybe to a lesser extent Simmer) the same problems will hold

    nevertheless I looked at is as Otto was I think the 4th or 5th highest scoring forward on a team led by Dan flippin quinn and his 72 points, and Penner was about the 5th highest scoring forward on a team with a guy over 90. but the Flames team that Otto played on that year had countless forwards in that 20g 50 range, so your point is well taken

    still I figure there are only so many of those gigantic undrafted college players that nobody wanted that turned out good guys to compare him to :)

  14. Vic Ferrari says:

    I don’t know how far back down the path you are looking, but at this age I think Viktor Kozlov is really comparable. He is also a giant of course. And Penner’s goal totals tell us that he has better finish than Kozlov, and not as much playmaking … granted Penner hasn’t played that many NHL games yet.

    Viktor has never had as many goals, but has had many more assists. Some pretty good point seasons for him in his mid 20s. And in a lower scoring era as well.

    It took him a while to get going as well, though he was learning in the NHL. I would imagine that if you reversed the Desjardins equivalencies for his 23 yr old NHL season back to AHL … it would be similarly impressive to Penner’s last AHL season.

    Penner has good hands for a big man, but not as good as Kozlov’s stick skills. Viktor is a prime candidate for the shootout on any NHL roster. I don’t think that Penner would be.

    And they look really similar out there to boot.

  15. Lowetide says:

    vic: Never even thought of him, but he’s an excellent comp. I was surprised to see Kozlov has had seasons of 200+ shots in his career.

    Something tells me we’ll be talking about lack of consistency with Penner too, and that will make them comps as well.

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