After Dealin' Dustin Penner on Deadline Day, What Comes Next For the Edmonton Oilers?

Karl ParkinsonContributor IIFebruary 28, 2011

EDMONTON, CANADA - JANUARY 18: Dustin Penner #27 of the Edmonton Oilers during the game against the Minnesota Wild on January 18, 2011 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
Dale MacMillan/Getty Images

The Edmonton Oilers pulled off the one and only blockbuster deal of the day when they dealt Dustin Penner to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for defensive prospect Colten Teubert, the Los Angeles Kings first-round draft pick this year, and a conditional third round pick in 2012.

Reaction around Edmonton in the blogs and media has been rather mixed, which seems fitting when it comes to Dustin Penner. He has been a lightning rod for controversy since being plucked from the Anaheim Ducks four years ago, when Kevin Lowe signed him to a now infamous offer sheet that set off a public feud between he and Brian Burke.

Some in Edmonton loved the guy (myself included) because he was the rare big guy with soft hands. Some hated him because of his inconsistency and the fact that he didn't always use his size to his advantage, especially in the first two years of his contract.

Love him or hate him, he is now gone, and in my mind, the Oilers are in a better position now than they were 24 hours ago.

The obvious benefit is $4.25 million in cap space that can now be used to help re-sign Ales Hemsky and give Eberle, Hall and Paajarvi the raises they will most likely be deserving of in two years time.

The big question now is what happens the rest of the year? The departure of Penner means that Paajarvi now has the chance to play the top six minutes that he needs to develop, and it also means that Linus Omark gets to draw back into the lineup.

The biggest question, however, is what to do at the draft? With Penner gone the Oilers are all but assured of a top two pick, so the question becomes take a center or take Adam Larsson? The acquisition of Teubert does not negate the Oilers need for a dominant defenseman. Teubert is a physical, shutdown defender, not an offensive power play QB like Larsson.

If Tom Renney is serious about Taylor Hall playing center than he should move him there for the remainder of the season and let him learn the position. If he excels then perhaps it make the decision pass on Couturier or Hopkins in favour of Larsson and easy one. Although, a Hall and Couturier/Hopkins one-two punch down the middle sure sounds appealing.

With many teams feeling that this is a weak draft year, another possibility would be to package the Kings first-round pick with a player like Andrew Cogliano and try to grab a second pick in the top 10 and get both a center and another defensive prospect.

This team still has a lot of question marks going forward, but I truly believe that they are a better team after dealing Penner.