It’s becoming blatantly obvious to both the organization and its fans, Dustin Penner has all the tools, but has seemingly lost the key to the tool box.
More to the point, perhaps he’s never found it!
Since arriving in E-town from Anaheim amid controversy as an RFA signing by former GM Kevin Lowe, the Manitoba native has taken the “mid-season disappearing act” to new levels. Coming off season-high point totals of 32-31-63, everyone expected the big man to take his game to the next level.
At 6’, 4” and 245 pounds, Penner could be all that and a bag chips for the Oil, a team that on many nights, appears to be the lightweight opponent on a card bursting with heavyweights. Last season, Penner was, in many respects his team’s bright light, at least where offence was concerned. The next logical step, some would assume, would be the 40 goal, 75 point plateau, for the 28-year-old prairie boy.
More importantly, Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini continues to remain hopeful that Penz will have an epiphany very soon, and realize that his team, a roster filled with skill, but little will, could really use a top six big man with tenacity.
On many nights, however, including the team’s recent road stop in Phoenix where they collectively crapped the bed, during a 5-0 loss to the Desert Dogs, Penner was non-existent.
In the words of semi-retired Hall of Famer Oiler Broadcaster Rod Phillips, Penner looked as though he was “dragging around a piano” on the ice!
The time may have finally come for an oil change, and for the club to pull the plug on Penz Oil, who has contributed 13 points (7-6) in 22 games thus far in the 2010-11 NHL campaign with a +/- Rating of -5.
Tambellini might not have to look too far to find a familiar dance partner, as the team prepares tonight, to take on the Ottawa Senators. Penner was one of the players thought to be headed to Ottawa last season for Dany Heatley, before the latter disgruntled blue chip gassed a trade involving the two clubs.
Is the time ripe for a similar discussion? Would the Sens be willing to finally ship centre Jason Spezza and his $7M contract out of the nation’s capital for the right price?
How about Penner and Sam Gagner? What say you, Sens’ fans?
Edmonton back-up netminder Martin Gerber will get his second start in three games tonight for the Oil, when he faces his old team. Gerber, who played three seasons in Ottawa (2006-09), was recently called up from Oklahoma City, the Oilers’ AHL franchise, following a groin injury to starter Nikolai Khabibulin. Taylor Hall seems to be finding his stride at the NHL level of late, having scored four points (2-2) in the team’s last five games.
In the meantime Oiler fans, chins up…sticks down!
About the Author
Written by Scott Pattison
Scott is an award-winning sports writer whose career spans more than 20 years. He's proudly covered the Oilers since moving to the Alberta capital in 2000.