When news of Dustin Penner‘s signing with the Anaheim Ducks hit last summer, fans rejoiced at the eminent return of the missing piece to their beloved PPG line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The kids, as they were lovingly referred to during their run to win the Stanley Cup for the Ducks in 2007, were back together again. And when looking for Penner’s current value in Anaheim, look no further than the fact that the Ducks are having their best season in years upon Penner’s return.
With 13 goals and 17 assists, Penner has a combined 30 points; a decent start at the very least, but more imporant is Penner’s power on that PPG line. The match-up has not only reignited Penner’s play (with more than 20 games still left, Penner already has more goals in this current season than his last three regular seasons combined), but his presence has also brought life to the games of Getzlaf and Perry. Finding someone to mesh with the Ducks’ top two has been an uphill battle for Anaheim in the past, but this year both Getzlaf and Perry find themselves fighting for that top points spot in the NHL — Penner might have something to do with that, too.
And while top line ignition is clearly a key to Penner’s recent game, he also brings a gritty presence to the ice that the Ducks have been sorely lacking, only relying previously on the physicality of players like Francios Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray.
A “more talented” player is always out there in this game, but Anaheim will be hard pressed to find someone to actually fill Penner’s spot after his contract is up at season’s end. Because chemistry is something all the skill in the world can’t make up for. And the chemistry between the kids in Anaheim isn’t just alright — it’s electrifying. Giving every reason for Ducks GM Bob Murray to figure out a way to make sure come October again, the only ice Penner skates out on is the ice in Anaheim.