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March 2, 2011
Buyers and Sellers
Not Enough for Penner?

by Corey Pronman

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At the eleventh hour of trade deadline day, the Los Angeles Kings acquired winger Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defense prospect Colton Teubert, their first round pick in 2011 and a conditional 2012 second round pick. The acquisition of Penner gave the Kings a much-needed scoring boost while dealing from an area of strength in regards to their defensive prospect depth. They also extended forward Justin Williams—who has become a solid contributor for LA—to a four year contract.

Los Angeles is currently a below-average team offensively, ranking 18th in the NHL in goals for per game and 21st in shots for per game. While those numbers are somewhat influenced by playing in the very competitive Pacific division, for a team looking to make a run in the postseason the Kings definitely weren't at a high-end enough level offensively to stand pat and be satisfied with their scoring punch. While Dustin Penner isn't a top-tier talent, he is a legit top-six forward and one who can contribute in counting numbers, as well as provide physical contribution. His even-strength Corsi Rel QoC has been middling over the last two years with offensive zone starts taken into the equation but he is known as a player who's been a key driver of Edmonton's offense. He has consistently been harped on for his cap hit of $4.25 million despite the fact for the most part his underlying numbers have been very good during his tenure in Edmonton .

The Kings extension of Justin Williams was a gamble on a player who has missed a ton of games due to injuries over the past couple of seasons even if the cap hit is only $3.65 million for four years and will take Williams through his age 30-33 seasons. The health issue is a concern for a guy who relies a lot on the physical game to provide his value. When he was with Carolina, WIlliams showed that he could be a quality player when healthy, posting 15.9 GVT and 11.8 GVT totals; he is already over 10.0 GVT this season. The last two seasons, Williams' Corsi Rel QoC numbers have been average, but if he can continue to play how he has this season and in his best years in Carolina for the duration of the contract, it will end up being good value for Los Angeles if not great value. They were obviously getting a risk premium on the injury factor; if I were Kings management, I might have been inclined to take on more money for one less year on the contract, in case Williams goes into another lengthy stretch of missed action as he approaches the wrong side of age 30.

In regards to what they gave up, the Oilers would hope that in return for one of their best forwards they would get some significant future assets that could be key pieces to the rebuild. They did not. Colton Teubert is a decent prospect who fell to the bottom of the depth chart in a loaded Kings system filled with top-heavy defense prospects like Derek Forbort, Thomas Hickey and Vyacheslav Voynov. While Forbort is still a ways away, Hickey and Voynov are in the AHL and are knocking on the door of the big leagues. One contact of mine who's watched Manchester (L.A.'s American Hockey League affiliate) said that once those two improve on their physical game some more, they should be ready for the next level. This depth and talent on defense in their system gave Los Angeles the leeway to deal a lower ceiling prospect in Colton Teubert. Teubert is best known for his physical assets and scouts characterize his performance in the AHL as an "angry" style of play. Aside from his penchant for physicality, Teubert also moves at a fair level and can skate with an average player. His defensive game and overall hockey sense has made significant strides over the past few years, as there were spurts in his WHL tenure where that aspect of his game would look atrocious at times. While it isn't at an above-average level now, he has developed enough to where he can hold his own at the pro level, but without above-average skating he still needs more refinement before moving on to the NHL. Teubert's puck skills are well below-average and executing the basic passes are major accomplishments in his puck-moving repertoire. You're likely looking at a player with a ceiling as an average #4 defender, with a more likely projection as a #6 or #7 defender. He has the physical assets in his skating and frame to be a #2 if his defensive game jumps up several notches, if he becomes more selective in his physical game and if he becomes a little more reliable with the puck.

The first round pick, per Iain Fyffe's study will likely have a Peak GVT a little under five which can obviously vary significantly based on the pick and on development. In essence, Oilers management didn't exactly pick up any sort of significant assets here and while I'm not privy to the negotiations, if the option was plausible I certainly would've made a pitch to Los Angeles to substitute the first and Teubert for a prospect like Voynov especially since offensively-gifted defenders are an area of weakness in the Oilers system. Given the term left on Penner's deal and LA's need for offense, I find it hard to believe this was the best possible route Edmonton could've gone down especially given no indication that they were under any pressure to dump salary. From Edmonton's perspective, I like the idea to get younger players, but I can't help but feel they could've got more than a few mid-tier assets for Penner, and if they couldn't have, that there was no urgency to make this deal right now.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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