Monday, February 28, 2011

D-Train Departs

But which way is the train traveling?
Dustin Penner was shipped out today, ending his tumultuous three-and-a-half year relationship with the Edmonton Oilers franchise.

The actual deal shakes out to a 1st in 2011 (likely to be bottom 15), Colten Teubert (a 13th overall selection in the 2008 entry draft), and a conditional 3rd rounder (could upgrade to a second based on LAK playoff performance). Teubert played for the World Juniors twice, so he's a guy I've had a small amount of time to view, and from what I do remember, he was definitely a guy who would place extra emphasis on physical play whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Before I dive into the numbers - which I will below - I thought it would be interesting to see what the consensus reaction was from around the internet:

David Staples from The Cult of Hockey:
This trade fails on a number of levels.
* The Oilers have moved their only real power forward-type, and remain stocked with finesse wingers.
* Penner is one Oiler who can actually face tough competition and come out on top.
* The Kings get the best player out of this deal. The Oilers get kind of what they got for Ryan Smyth, a whole lot of kinda, sorta, maybe promising players/picks, but nothing substantial.
* A young and awful team just got younger and more awful.
* Penner had made it clear he wanted to be an Oiler.
Tyler Dellow from
...the trade of Dustin Penner for the Kings’ 2011 first round pick, Colten Teubert and a second/third round pick, depending on conditions, is just another point that underscores the bleakness of existence as an Oilers’ fan at the moment.
Benjamin Massey from
Don’t buy Oilers tickets, don’t buy Oilers merchandise, don’t get NHL GameCentre and watch Oilers game on it. Don’t watch Sportsnet West; stream all your Oiler games illegally. If they start building a downtown arena, burn it to the fucking foundations. If this team goes bankrupt, hopefully Katz will sell and we’ll get somebody in charge who knows what he’s doing.
The reaction from around the blogosphere seems to oscillate from utter, abject disgust to mild dislike. Personally mine would be of mild dislike, as I don't feel that Teubert is a prospect that projects to be a blue-chip NHLer. That said, Penner definitely was having an off season, and with his generally inconsistent play, he would frustrate almost as much as he would play solid two-way hockey. In other words I think the Oilers lost the trade with a gambler's chance of coming out ahead. What are the odds of coming out ahead? I don't know... One in three? One in four?

I think what's more interesting is the overwhelming consensus that Penner is somehow irreplaceable on the Oilers roster. I guess the real question with Dustin Penner is which version are you going to get? Some Penner numbers after the hop.

Dustin Penner is a maddeningly inconsistent player. He can be Lindros dominant for a couple of shifts or even games, but this is often countered by long stretches of lackadaisical play. Looking at his numbers with the Oilers we see this is true even season to season (all numbers ranked by forwards with 30gp - all numbers from

SEASON TOI/60 P/60Rank+-ON/60RankOzone%Corsi QocRank PDO
2007-2008 13.14 1.3411th -0.22 6th 52.80.207 8th 989
2008-2009 11.71 1.71 4th 0.85 1st 53.3 0.144 9th 1021
2009-2010 13.39 2.40 1st 0.55 1st 45.6 0.015 9th 1010
2010-2011 13.58 2.07 4th -0.86 10th 50.7 0.333 7th 987

As the stats show, he's had basically two good to great seasons combined with two somewhat lousy seasons. A couple of interesting things:
  • He's really never faced top opposition - mostly 2nd-3rd liners
  • He's generally been good for 5v5 offence - the cut off is about 2.0 P/60 for a decent 5v5 performer. This year, for instance, 104 forwards are at or above that mark, so it's a rough cut-off for a first line player. In other words he was definitely one last year, and this year he's a bottom end first-liner.
  • His defence has been quite good or recently, somewhat lousy - the goal differential for last years team was -70, indicating just how incredible he actually was 5v5. This years team is about on pace for the same, yet he's almost a goal and a half worse in outscoring this year. I think in general he's just been less motivated out on the ice, as well the goaltending behind him was about 15 points better.
If I had to guess, I would say that the 2009-2010 more or less represents the best-case scenario, stats-wise, for Dustin Penner. I would guess that on a team with a stronger back-end (including goaltender), he should be able to outscore middling opposition quite handily. This is borne out by his decent P/60 scoring rate, and the general crapness of the Oilers goaltending this year.

His PP numbers (forwards with 30gp+, at least 1PP/min game):

As we can see, Penner has been a fairly inconsistent PP performer, even on his best year he was barely cracking the 4.0 respectability barrier. To get a feel for that barrier, around 74 forwards are breaking it this year, and players around that barrier this year are Phil Kessel, Tuomo Ruutu, Justin Williams, Kristian Huselius. Last year 84 players broke that barrier. If you figure that 30 first unit power plays is about 90 players, this gives you a good idea that Penner, at his best, is a bottom end top PP unit guy. Certainly this season he has performed like a bottom-end second unit guy (ranked 145th in the league this season).


There really are a lot of mopey bastards in the Oilogosphere that seem be thirsty for Oilers failure. I think they feel like it's the only way that there will be a true changing of the guard in Oilertown - but in reality hoping for failure is a losers position since you can't really change the affection you have for the team. That's debatable, of course, I would guess that almost everyone has a point at which the love is gone, but if trading out the inconsistent Penner is the straw that breaks your back, I can't imagine you were that passionate of a fan to begin with.

In the end, I don't really see how hoping for the Oilers failure is any different than cheering for the Flames. There isn't even any guarantee if Katz made wholesale management changes that the person replacing Tambo would be clearly competent. So the end game here is that I do not like the trade or Tambellini's general tactics and yet still remain positive. As long as their is a chance we come out ahead, I won't immediately be doom and gloom. How does devolving into caustic histrionics help anything?

I am not so blatantly pessimistic: Penner is replaceable, and will in fact likely have his bet covered by both Hall and Eberle next season. That's not the whole picture, of course, as Penner gave the Oilers valuable second liner, or even a legitimate first liner (his P/60 in '09-'10 was 33rd ranked in the league).

I would have to guess Penner is somewhat in between those two extremes. He's probably not a regular top 30 forward in the league, but I doubt he will be much below 2.0 P/60 either. To cover that bet for the Oilers, they would need to acquire a player of roughly Wheeler, Morrow, Neal, or Vanek's caliber (these are guys who have scored near Penner's rates). It's definitely not impossible (two of these guys recently dealt), and for that reason I have decided not to burn the downtown arena to the fucking foundations, to put it as eloquently as Massey.

To use a poker analogy: the Oilers have flopped an open ended straight draw (4 consecutive cards), and the Kings have a pair of jacks. Now let's see what the turn and river bring.


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