Which Dustin Penner Will Show Up for the Washington Capitals?

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Which Dustin Penner Will Show Up for the Washington Capitals?
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL trade deadline is like a winter storm. People panic at the first sign of a watch, advisory or warning, frantically running to the store for milk, bread and toilet paper. Once the storm passes, many of these same people realize they had enough supplies all along. 

The Washington Capitals may or may not be in a full-blown panic. However, they definitely ran to the store for supplies when they traded a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft back to the Anaheim Ducks for left winger Dustin Penner, according to NHL.com

Penner was an unexpected acquisition, considering the Caps had recently been linked to Ryan Miller, Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler, according to various sources on MyNHLTradeRumors.com

Nevertheless, the 31-year-old Penner can help the Caps. A native of Winkler, Manitoba (along with new teammate Eric Fehr), Penner measures 6'4", weighs in at 247 pounds and shoots left handed. He has scored 150 goals and added 157 assists in 571 career games with a plus-two rating and 352 penalty minutes.

In eight completed seasons spread between Anaheim, Edmonton and Los Angeles, Penner has played at least 78 games five separate times and played 65 games one other time. He has won the Stanley Cup twice, in 2007 with the Ducks and in 2012 with the Kings

All those career accomplishments sound great and all, but Caps fans want to know one thing: 

Which Dustin Penner will show up for the Washington Capitals? 

The Hockey News scouting report for Penner reveals why that is a fair question: 

Dustin Penner's Scouting Report
Assets: Is one of the biggest physical specimens in the game, but also possesses good hockey sense. Plays his best while standing in front of the net. Can score goals in bunches.
Flaws: Could stand to use his size more in every game situation. Does not display enough game-to-game consistency. Gets in trouble when he stops moving his feet.
Career Potential: Inconsistent but huge scoring winger.

The Hockey News

Penner's career statistics bear that out as well. Projecting these stats over an 82-game season draws a clear distinction between "Good Dustin" and "Bad Dustin": 

Analyzing Dustin Penner's Career with 82-Game Projections
CATEGORY SEASON GOALS ASSISTS POINTS
Best 2009-10 32 31 63
Worst 2012-13 5 30 35
Average ----- 21 22 43

Hockey-Reference.com

This season, Anaheim experienced Good Dustin, as Penner scored 13 goals to go with 19 assists through 49 games. According to Hockey-Reference.com, his goals-per-game average and assists-per-game average for the 2013-14 season are currently better than his career average in both categories. 

That bodes well for the Capitals and their fans, both of whom hope to avoid experiencing Bad Dustin. 

But Penner will not only be fighting a trend from his own history. He will also be fighting a trend from Capitals history. 

To explain, here are the statistics for the last four wingers acquired by the Capitals at the trade deadline. Each player is listed with his regular-season (RS) and postseason (PS) statistics for the year in which he arrived in Washington: 

Stats for Caps Wingers Acquired at Trade Deadline Since 2007-08
PLAYER, POSITION SEASON RS GP G A P +/- PS GP G A P +/-
Matt Cooke, LW 2007-08 17 3 4 7 +5 7 0 0 0 -1
Scott Walker, RW 2009-10 9 2 1 3 +1 1 0 0 0 0
Marco Sturm, LW 2010-11 18 1 6 7 0 9 1 2 3 +1
Martin Erat, RW 2012-13 9 1 2 3 0 4 0 0 0 +1

NHL.com

Therein lies Penner's best chance to break the aforementioned trend. 

Penner has been money in the playoffs throughout his career, scoring 13 goals and adding 22 assists in 78 career postseason games to go with a plus-19 rating and 58 penalty minutes. He also has five playoff game-winners and has never gone an entire postseason without scoring at least one goal. 

That is exactly why the Capitals acquired Penner in the first place. He related this sentiment in a conference call on March 4, via The Washington Post's Katie Carrera, just after the trade was consummated, saying, “It’s a good challenge for me personally. I look forward to coming and hopefully adding something that they were looking for to help make the push to the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup.” 

During that conference call, Penner also expressed his eagerness to get on the ice with his new team and show what he can do, as tweeted by Carrera

Caps fans hope to see Penner in the lineup tomorrow as well. They want to know right away if their team acquired Good Dustin or Bad Dustin. 

In the meantime, Washington fans already know they found a brand new Twitter account to follow.

Penner is a very active tweeter, and he may soon rival Alex Ovechkin as the best Washington Capital to follow on Twitter. Speaking of which, Penner's second tweet after the trade was directly to his new team captain, in which he gave Ovechkin a new nickname. Penner scored huge points with his new fanbase by referring to the movie Rounders in the process. 

All kidding aside, Penner will be valued more for what he can do inside of 200 feet than for what he can do inside of 140 characters. As any NHL fan will tell you, winning a Stanley Cup is more important than winning a Twitter beef

But just barely. 

 

Note: All statistics updated through March 4 courtesy of NHL.com unless noted otherwise. 

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