According the the Edmonton Journal, the Oilers may be looking to trade left winger Dustin Penner and his $4.25 million contract.
While the Oilers are not in any financial trouble—they have about $13 million in cap space, however they still have defenseman Sheldon Souray in the AHL—the club may be looking to trim some salary off their books.
Currently this season Penner has seven goals and four assists for 11 points in 19 games. While they are not eye-popping numbers, his goal totals will still put him in a tie with Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin for second on the team.
Now while the Leafs have not been rumored to be in the early hunt for Penner, he should at least be on the team's radar if the price is right.
Early rumors report the Los Angeles Kings being interested in the hulking winger. Talk around the league is the Oilers would be looking for a top prospect in return for Penner. Colton Teubert, Brandon Kozun, Slava Voinov or Thomas Hickey I'm sure would be a starting point in the Kings/Oilers trade talks.
The Oilers boast some of the best young forwards in the league right now with Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle already playing on the squad this year. However, the team is still rail thin on the blue line—both right now and in their system—and their future in goal is a bit dull with Devyn Dubnyk and Olivier Roy as their only long-term options.
With that in mind, my best bet is the Oilers would be looking for a defenseman or goaltender over a forward, but I'm not Kevin Lowe so he could very well pick up a forward in return, for all I know.
I know Penner is not a first line center like all Leafs fans want on the club—like myself, but he has something that everyone on the Leafs roster really lacks—tremendous strength and size.
Penner comes in at a whopping 6'4", 245 pounds and it really takes a whole group of players to take down this Goliath of a hockey player when he stands in front of the goal.
Last season, Penner scored 32 goals and added 31 assists for 63 points in a full 82 game season.
So after speaking of that, the odds the Leafs and Oilers hook up for a deal seems unlikely on the surface, but I've seen more impossible things happen than this. The Leafs acquired the Flames future captain and best defenceman for replaceable parts, so anything can happen.
To expand further, Penner should be a target for the Leafs for one simple reason: he gets to the net and is the quintessential power forward that could lead the Leafs going forward. At 28-years-old, he'll only be hitting his prime and to me, this is the prime time for the Leafs to at least try and acquire him.
The Leafs really struggle to maintain control of the puck for any length of time in the opposition's zone, mostly because of their size and the strength of their forwards. Adding Penner would add that extra bit of zest to the teams powerplay which usually looks anemic most of the time.
One downside to Penner is that even given his humongous size, he really fails to use his body effectively only registering 15 hits in 19 games. Compare those numbers to another power forward of similar size Todd Bertuzzi who has 24 hits in 18 games.
What could the Oilers possibly want from the Leafs? The Leafs don't boast real top end talent on their farm, so it will probably have to be a two to three player trade involving at least a defenseman going the other way.
Luca Caputi and Keith Aulie for Dustin Penner could be a deal to get GM Steve Tambellini's attention, but really, I can't speculate on what he'd really want in return.
The Leafs could wait to sign him to a contract after the 2011-12 season, but sometimes it's better to go big or go home, and in the Leafs case, this is about as good of a time as any to go BIG!
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment on the idea of adding Dustin Penner.