CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2013-14 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in alphabetical order. Today: Dustin Penner
Position: Left Wing
Age: 31 [turns 32 Sept. 28]
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 247
Penalty Minutes: 2
Average Ice Time: 12:18
Contract Status: Pending unrestricted free agent on July 1 [$2 million cap hit/salary in 2013-14]
Strengths: Blessed with a very big body, Penner is difficult to knock off the puck and is a looming presence around the net when he decides to go there. His production took a serious drop after arriving in Washington, mostly because of the way he was utilized. In 49 games with Anaheim, Penner averaged 15:15 in ice time, 3 minutes more a night than he received under Adam Oates in Washington. After putting up 13 goals, 19 assists and a plus-22 rating in Anaheim, mostly on a top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Penner’s numbers dried up in Washington, where he was relegated to time with Tom Wilson, Chris Brown, Jay Beagle and Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Weaknesses: Penner just didn’t seem thrilled about being traded to the Capitals and it was clear from the start that he had no intentions of re-signing in the nation’s capital. Oates reasoned that Penner did not possess the foot speed to keep up with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom on the top line and before long Penner was relegated to fourth-line duty, where he often went unnoticed.
Memorable Moment: On March 22, with permission from then-general manager George McPhee, Penner boarded his 100-pound German shepherd, Ryback, on the team’s charter flight back from San Jose. “I was the Dad, he was the kid, and everybody else were the grandparents who wanted to play with him,” Penner said of the 4 ½-hour flight. “I had to be responsible and tell him to lie down.”
Quotable: “I need a job. I’ll entertain any and all offers.” - Penner on breakup day, April 14
2014-15 Expectations: No matter whom the Capitals’ next general manager is, Penner won’t be a part of the team next season. He’s young enough and productive enough to earn another NHL contract but it would not be a surprise if his offensive numbers took a significant drop next season.