NHL Playoffs 2012: Dustin Penner Silencing Critics with $4.25 Million Goal

Riley KuftaContributor IIIMay 23, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 22:  Dustin Penner #25 of the Los Angeles Kings answers questions after scoring the game-winning goal in the Kings 4-3 overtime victory against the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on May 22, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In the 2006/07 season, Dustin Penner made a name for himself on a line alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, picking up 45 points as a sophomore. 

He continued his strong play into the postseason, helping the Anaheim Ducks win their first Stanley Cup. 

Although many speculated that his performance was exaggerated because of his linemates, it was enough for Edmonton Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe, who offered Penner a significant offer sheet of $4.25 million. 

Although Ducks GM Brian Burke publicly voiced is displeasure with Lowe for the large offer sheet, it appeared that he'd get the last laugh as Penner's production went downhill. 

Throughout the majority of the next four seasons with the under-performing Oilers, Penner saw just a 63-point high, as his name quickly entered talks of the worst contracts in the NHL

At the 2011 trade deadline, the Oilers traded Penner for Colton Teubert, a first-round draft pick in 2011 and a third-round draft pick in 2012. 

Penner's career hit an all-time low this season, when he not only saw his lowest point production since his first NHL season, but was also the face of ridicule as he missed time due to an injury sustained while reaching for pancakes.  

For those who have followed the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, you are well aware that Penner has elevated his game significantly. 

Through 14 games so far this postseason, Penner has 10 points and a plus-5 rating. But more importantly than the numbers is the timing, as he picked up the game and series winner against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, advancing the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

Although Penner has been huge for the Kings through this playoff stretch, the upcoming UFA should still be prepared for a pay-cut this summer, whether for the Kings or another club. 

Following the win on Tuesday, Penner had this to say about the big goal: "It's the biggest goal of my career so far. Hopefully, there are a couple more waiting in the finals."

Penner's five-year, $21.25 million contract hasn't worked out as planned, but it's nice to see that he  is not only picking up his game, but is also aware that he needs to continue to do so in order to re-build his reputation. 

One thing is for sure: At just 29 years old, Penner now has the opportunity to play a big role en route to the Stanley Cup for the second time in his career. There aren't too many overpaid, bad contract players that can put that on their resume.