When the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2011-2012, one of their immediate concerns when free agency rolled around was whether or not they’d be able to afford to bring Dustin Penner back.
After all, Penner had bounced back from a miserable regular season, that included healthy scratches galore and that whole pancake thing and turned in a brilliant postseason, proving to be a key cog in the Kings’ machine that cruised to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Those concerns were quieted when the Kings brought back Penner on a one-year contract, keeping their championship team completely intact. Bringing back Penner was a key, as the Kings put together one of the more impressive title defenses that we’ve seen in the last few years, reaching the Western Conference Finals before being knocked out by the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks.
But as the Kings prepare to head into another offseason, those Penner concerns have come right back. With an expensive core now completely locked up, there are questions about whether or not the Kings will be able to afford not only Penner, but other unrestricted free agents as well, including Rob Scuderi.
Penner signed a one-year deal worth $3.25 million to remain in Los Angeles for at least one more year last summer. It was seen as a deal that would help to increase his stock so he could end up signing a longer term deal, either with the Kings or with another club the following offseason.
That following offseason has come, and while Penner didn’t have the greatest of seasons, with only 14 points in 33 games, he was also limited by injury throughout. He’s still a big body in the lineup capable of contributing regularly on offense. He’s only a couple years removed from his last 20-goal season.
Teams out on the market will be in on Dustin Penner, especially with the shortage of true talent out there in free agency. Penner could easily see a raise, perhaps into the $3.5-4 million a year neighborhood, which would make him too expensive for the Kings. This isn’t a matter of a player necessarily wanting out of a city, but it may simply end up being too expensive for the Kings to manage.
Which is probably part of the reason that they brought in Matt Frattin in the Jonathan Bernier deal.