Each day from now until July 1, the day free agency begins, Sarah Baicker and Tim Riday will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
Dustin Penner, right wing
Last team: Washington Capitals
2013-14 cap hit: $2 million
When Penner scores, he scores in bunches. He's a dominating force in front of opposing goalies and can be a nightmare for defensemen to deal with. He uses his big frame to his advantage in the corners and is a fearless forechecker. He's been used on the power play for every team he's played for and proved he can be a productive first-line winger while playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in Anaheim. However, consistency has been an issue for Penner throughout his entire eight-year career.
After going undrafted in 2004, Penner signed as a free agent with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. In his first full season, with the renamed Anaheim Ducks, Penner won his first Stanley Cup championship. He then signed with Oilers in 2007 and spent parts of four seasons in Edmonton before being dealt to the Los Angeles Kings in 2011. He earned his second Stanley Cup when L.A. beat the New Jersey Devils in 2012. Last summer, Penner returned to the Ducks on a one-year, $2 million deal. He was traded to the Washington Capitals prior to the trade deadline four a fourth-round pick.
I like the idea of Penner in a Flyers uniform, playing on a line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. I mean, why not? He didn't fare so well during his brief time in Washington, but he had found success on the top line in Anaheim, registering 32 points with a plus-22 rating. He's got size, he's solid in front of the net, he can clear space for his linemates and he's affordable. Is it a long shot? Yeah. But in my view, he'd work well in Philly -- if he wanted to come here.
Penner has something the Flyers desperately need: size. He's also a very hard worker and could come in handy on the man advantage. Most importantly, he could potentially be a cheap pickup this offseason. But I'm not entirely convinced Penner would be a fit with the Flyers. His production is on the decline -- he has just 23 goals since the beginning of the 2011-12 season -- and he hasn't been able to stick around with some of the league's best teams over the past few years. Granted, he showed signs of turning his game around when he was reunited with Anaheim's dynamic duo, Getzlaf and Perry, before being traded and misused by the Caps. But it's important to remember Craig Berube preaches an intense, uptempo style of play. The Flyers' head coach also wants his players to be more defensive-minded. That doesn't bode well for Penner. He isn't a great skater and is more known for his grit. I'd rather see the Flyers give their current crop of wingers a chance to play rather than experiment with Penner.