Who are you, Dustin Penner?

When projecting ahead to the coming season, a big question mark that affects a lot of teams is the possible emergence of young players. How well will they step into bigger roles? How can we project success or shortcomings?

For me, one of the bigger mysteries this coming year is the big brute Dustin Penner. Penner, interestingly enough, joins Andy McDonald and Chris Kunitz as players the Ducks signed who never got drafted, and like the other two, has shown signs of being a success. He’s built like a horse, has shown decent hands and offensive zone awareness, and hasn’t proven to be too much a liability on the backend, either.

Even more than the other rookies, however, Penner’s season was really an up-and-down one between big-league Anaheim and the AHL-affiliate Portland Pirates. Here’s the up-and-down story:
(Remember, four of Penner’s NHL playoff assists came from passing to the scoring machine Joffrey Lupul during the Colorado series.)

So what kind of expectations should be placed on Penner for this coming year, or more appropriately, what should those expectations be based on? His AHL success? The dozen-or-so NHL playoff games?

Duck fans on the message boards (bless their little hearts) seem to be quite optimistic as to next year’s Penner, penciling him in at top line and projecting lofty point totals. I guess I agree that Penner’s going to be ‘better’ next year with full-time NHL duty, but of all the Duck forwards not named Chistov, he’s the guy with the thinnest and most scattered previous-year stats to use as a basis.

I dunno, anyone care to make a guess how good Dustin should be this year? Or, if you’re as stumped as I am, maybe just a mention of what impresses you about the big kid.

Dates

Team Level Season Games G-A-Pts Pts/Gm

10/5/05 – 10/10/05

Anaheim

NHL

Regular

0

0-0-0

0.00

10/11/05 – 11/23/05

Portland

AHL

Regular

16

11-9-20

1.25

11/24/05 – 12/15/05

Anaheim

NHL

Regular

6

2-2-4

0.67

12/16/05 – 1/26/06

Portland

AHL

Regular

18

15-18-33

1.83

1/27/06 – 2/14/06

Anaheim

NHL

Regular

9

2-1-3

0.33

2/15/06 – 2/26/06

Portland

AHL

Regular

6

4-4-8

1.33

2/27/06 – 3/10/06

Anaheim

NHL

Regular

4

0-0-0

0.00

3/11/06 – 4/15/06

Portland

AHL

Regular

17

9-14-23

1.35

4/16/06 – 4/26/06

Portland

AHL

Playoffs

4

2-3-5

1.25

4/27/06 – 5/28/06

Anaheim

NHL

Playoffs

13

3-6-9

0.69

5/29/06 – 5/30/06

Portland

AHL

Playoffs

1

2-0-2

2.00

TOTAL

Portland

AHL

Regular

57

39-45-84

1.47

TOTAL

Portland

AHL

Playoffs

5

4-3-7

1.40

TOTAL

Anaheim

NHL

Regular

19

4-3-7

0.37

TOTAL

Anaheim

NHL

Playoffs

13

3-6-9

0.69

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