Despite the dollars and size, Dustin Penner’s offense will rely heavily on where they slot him in the lineup. If he plays the entire season on the top line with Horcoff and Hemsky he could have a career season. If he loses that job and doesn’t catch the Gagner wave this could be a rather difficult year.
My guess is that the pressure the organization feels in regard to his performing at near his contract will be enough to get him the gold linemates and plenty of powerplay time. He’ll certainly be a part of the “MacT blender” but Penner is also a useful player who brings some nice things to a line with Hemsky or Gagner.
According to nhl.com, the Oilers gave “The Big P” a helluva push with the man advantage. Here are the total minutes leaders among forwards on the Edmonton Oilers 07-08:
- Stoll (315 minutes)
- Penner (305 minutes)
- Hemsky (286 minutes)
- Gagner (221 minutes)
- Horcoff (221 minutes)
And just to be fair, here are the top forwards in powerplay time on ice per game:
- Horcoff 4:10
- Stoll 3:53
- Hemsky 3:52
- Penner 3:43
- Gagner 2:48
So on most nights, Penner was on the 1st PP. Agreed? Penner’s logical competition for those PP minutes will be Erik Cole, Robert Nilsson, Sam Gagner and Rob Schremp. I keed. Anyway, it’s tough to predict his numbers next season because there’s a wide range of possibilities. I’m going to assume he plays on the top line for much of the year and he also retains 3 minutes a night on the PP.
By The Numbers
- 06-07 5×5 per 60m: 1.92
- 07-08 5×5 per 60m: 1.34
- 06-07 5×4 per 60m: 4.01
- 07-08 5×4 per 60m: 4.07
He can’t possibly be this bad again at EVs and if he does play on the top line Penner will get a nice push in 5×5 points. His PP number also helps.
Prediction for 08-09: 82gp, 30-23-53 (.646 per game).
I should also say a few words about a possible position change. Penner is a candidate for center should all those kids fail in their roles this fall. After Shawn Horcoff, the depth chart is talented but very young. Unless an Andrew Cogliano or Kyle Brodziak can step up (and these things usually fail miserably with the added feature of stalling prospect progress) or the light bulb is really on for Marc Pouliot, Penner would be the next logical option before a trade is made. He did play some center last season and MacT must be tempted to get Penner’s big body more involved. If he does report to camp in better shape (Penner has been with the Mandelbaum’s all summer) and can stay healthy (Penner has been with the Mandelbaum’s all summer) this is a consideration.