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.