What’s wrong with Dustin Penner?

penner_dustin_getty_4001

Lack of work ethic, apparently, according to Oiler’s coach Craig MacTavish.
With his $4.25-million contract, and the huge expectation the media and the fans have for his second season with Edmonton, his 3G and 1A in 16 games perhaps deserved a more severe punishment than sitting out two games.

From the moment Lowe snatched him out of Anaheim with his infamous offer-sheet, Penner was expected to carry a huge load for the Oilers in terms of scoring and presence. But was it really fair? He was in his rookie year when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup, and his production (29G 16A, 45Pts) was perhaps the result of playing with two of the best young forwards in the league, in Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry. The two are still lighting it up down in Anaheim.

Yes, Penner did have another good year with Edmonton (23G, 24A, 47Pts), but perhaps he’s not really ready emotionally, to consistenly play that huge role the Oilers or the fans expected. But who’s fault is it, that Penner is in his current situation? He didn’t asked to be offered an offer sheet? If Lowe didn’t do that, he’d still be playing in Anaheim with Getzlaf and Perry, and no way will his points total be 4, playing along-side these two young guns.

But in any case, what’s done is done, and it’s a fact that Penner is suffering one of his lowest production season in his short professional career. And no-one challenges MacTavish for openly criticizing his star forward.

“I don’t expect it to be mean-spirited to the player, I’m not that type of person, MacTavish said. “At the same time, as a coach, it doesn’t do the team any good or the player any good to play at a level far below his capabilities.”

But yesterday, Penner returns with the team on ice after his short trip in the press box, and it looks like the coach did a good job with Penner scoring a goal in the 7-2 win against the Blue Jackets. Penner was physical and played to his 6’4″ frame the entire night. Of course, fans and the media do not embrace his performance with open-arm, as many criticized the disappearance of this version of himself throughout the previous 16 games.

“It’s up to me to try and do what they ask of me,” Penner said prior to yesterday’s game. “I have to make a committment to play a better overall game.” Who knows, maybe his season is still salvageable, it is afterall still quite early in the season, he surely has the ability and potential to turn things around if he wants to. But if he doesn’t, his $4.25-million is not tolerable in a town such as Edmonton.

Last but not least, it’s my turn again, to throw out some crazy trade ideas for the Canucks. Okay, with how things are going with Penner and a new GM in Tambellini, I’d say:

Vancouver Canucks
Dustin Penner

Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Pyatt
2009 2nd Round Pick

Edmonton is reliefed of his big contract, and gets a tough-player with excellent work-ethic who is also in a slump at an excellent price of $1.5M and also a good pick in a deep draft.

Vancouver gets another project, althought the price is hefty, the team has the cap-space and who knows, maybe Penner will be another Wellwood with the Canucks. I think no-one will doubt the potentials Penner has, it’s just finding that right line-mates and chemistry.

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