A couple of months ago, Dustin Penner‘s NHL career was trending in a direction that would leave him without a job this summer. With Penner and his now infamous pancake injury sitting as an NHL laughing stock and the Los Angeles Kings potentially missing out on a playoff spot, it would have been hard to see Penner finding a job anywhere this summer.
How times have changed. Not only did Penner’s play improve down the stretch and in the postseason, but he ended up being a key piece of the Kings taking home their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
With just 17 points in 65 regular season games, when he wasn’t injured or serving as a healthy scratch, expectations for Penner were low in the postseason. But he impressed, with 11 points in 20 games, including the game-winning overtime goal against the Phoenix Coyotes to send the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals.
He also brought the size to the top units, with 35 hits in the playoffs. He played at a high level for the postseason and moved out of his role as the NHL’s favorite punchline.
Many figured that that type of performance would win him a big time contract this summer. With another thin free agent class, Penner could be in line for a big raise from a team looking to add that type of size to their lineup. And someone will very likely overpay, as they always do. But Penner could be much more interested in remaining with the team that he won a Cup with.
Penner is reportedly willing to take a paycut to remain in Hollywood, which would likely be required to stick around, especially if the Kings are planning to throw a whole bunch of money at Jonathan Quick this summer.
Though there’s no guarantee Penner will return to the Kings this summer, it certainly seems like more of a possibility than we would have though, if Penner is willing to take a paycut. There are still teams out there that could be prepared to offer Penner a slight raise from what he’s making now, but the odds are pretty decent that he returns to LA. With a thin class, expect his name to be one of the bigger ones out there when the free agent signing period begins.