In what is just the onset of NHL trade deadline activity, the Washington Capitals and General Manager George McPhee made a minor but important move Tuesday afternoon, acquiring Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner. The 31 year old winger brings enormous size at 6’4”, 247 pounds and should be a strong net presence for the Capitals down the stretch as they fight for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Penner will be an unrestricted free agent following this season and makes two million dollars this season, with a two million dollar cap hit. The return to the Ducks was an expected one, as Anaheim received a fourth round draft pick in exchange for the bulky forward. The Capitals will likely use Penner on the power play as well, helping improve an already elite unit.
Penner has played in 49 games for Anaheim this season, totaling 13 goals and 19 assists. He’s netted five power play goals on the year, including two game winning goals. Penner played on the Ducks’ top forward line at times throughout the season and one should expect another move from Anaheim before the trade deadline ends, potentially Thomas Vanek of the struggling New York Islanders.
His shooting percentage is 13% this season, just over his career shooting mark of 12.1%. He averages about two shots per contest and will bring some physicality to the Caps’ top line if he plays with Captain Alex Ovechkin and two-way center Nicklas Backstrom on the regular. He’s not afraid to go to the front of the net and the majority of his shots on net come from in close.
In the advanced stats arena, Penner has also performed well. The 31 year old winger has a 49.9 corsi for percentage this season, along with a 2.3% Corsi relative. Along with his solid possession numbers, he’s a proven winner, having won Stanley Cups with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and Los Angeles Kings in 2011.
Dustin Penner shoots from an average of 28.3 ft. away. Only current #Caps winger (min 100 shots) closer is Ward (27.1).
— Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) March 4, 2014
Penner has played in 571 career games, recording 307 points. He’s also appeared in 78 total postseason matchups, something Washington hopes will continue with this addition. In the playoffs, Penner has contributed 13 goals and 22 assists, including a remarkable five game winning goals. The former Ducks, Kings and Oilers forward is likely to be in the lineup for Washington Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Getting a player of this caliber for just a mid-round draft pick is a great move for McPhee and the Caps’ brass to start this year’s trade deadline, but still didn’t address their main issue: defense. McPhee has also made trading Erat a priority and Neuvirth could also be a possibility to be dealt to clear up cap space for both this season and the 2014-15 campaign.
Matthew Speck covers the Washington Capitals organization for The Hockey Writers. He provides coverage of both Washington at the NHL level and prospect related content. Matthew also covers local sports for the Lebanon Daily News in Central Pennsylvania. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.