Monday, August 23, 2010

Dustin Penner is Underrated

This is what a hockey monster looks like.

It's entirely Dustin Penner's fault that after making his name in the hockey world as an uber-skilled power forward and winning the Stanley Cup in his first season, that two of the most egotistical General Managers in the game decided to make one of the worst hockey deals since the lockout to send Penner from the Anaheim Ducks to the Edmonton Oilers.

...Actually it's not, however if you listen to Edmonton Oilers fans you would think Dustin Penner was the anti-christ. While Dustin Penner has had some lazy seasons in the past and has trouble carving out a niche in Edmonton, something special happened last season and everyone missed it. Last season in Edmonton, Dustin Penner became the player he was supposed to be. During the first twenties games of the season, Penner averaged almost two points a game and was leading the league in almost every offensive statistical category. Penner and Ales Hemsky combined to become the best offensive duo in the NHL. However once Hemsky got injured for the season by the quarter mark, Penner was saddled with bum line-mate after bum line-mate as Oilers head coach Pat Quinn was working through his Alzheimer's. It seemed every time Penner started to heat up, Quinn would shift his line mates around again removing any kind of chemistry or heat Penner was building. Penner did find some notable chemistry and explode again for about two weeks in the middle of the season when paired with Gilbert Brule, but that pair was broken up because it was working.

As the Edmonton Oilers went into free fall last season, Penner still was noticeable for his game by game work ethic (something he's always been criticized for) and was able to put together a hell of an offensive season despite playing on the maybe the worst team since the lock-out. Penner wound up with 32 goals, 63 points, and a positive rating on this team.

I'm trying to encourage all hockey fans out there to given Penner a look for their fantasy teams, especially because there's more talent in Edmonton this year and hopefully we'll get a full year of the Penner/Hemsky duo. But also I'm hyping Penner these days because he's something special. For years people have said he'd be one of the best players in hockey if he could just learn work ethic and aggression. Well from watching his play last season, Dustin Penner has arrived.

My opinion, Penner will knock down 40-40-80 this year.