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Fantasy Pool Look: Dustin Penner finds a fit

Darryl Dobbs
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Dustin Penner #17 of the Anaheim Ducks looks on prior to the start of the game against the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center on September 22, 2013 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Fantasy Pool Look: Dustin Penner finds a fit

Darryl Dobbs
By:

Dustin Penner made a splash in both real and fantasy hockey back in 2006 when the Anaheim Ducks called him up from the minors. Since then, there have been plenty of ups and downs in his career, but now this Duck is flying as high as he's ever been.

Dustin Penner made a splash in both real and fantasy hockey back in 2006 when the Anaheim Ducks called him up from the minors. Since then, there have been plenty of ups and downs in his career, but now this Duck is flying as high as he's ever been.

The undrafted Penner was signed back in 2004 because he was a big man (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) with skill. After a mediocre American League debut, he exploded in his sophomore campaign for the Portland Pirates, garnering 84 points in just 57 games. It was enough to get him a call-up to the big club and he was there to stay. He made a huge impact in the post-season that year with nine points in just 13 games. He certainly caught the attention of poolies, as he was drafted that summer in most league formats.

After a pretty solid rookie campaign (45 points in 82 games), he was the subject of the famous Brian Burke/Kevin Lowe kerfuffle in which Lowe dared to follow the rules of the NHL and gave a restricted free agent an aggressive offer sheet. But it was in Edmonton where the weirdness began. Penner didn't really improve on his sophomore season (47 points) and he actually took a step back in his third year (just 37 points). I even recall advising a fellow poolie in a league of mine that he should be dropped. Fortunately for him, he didn't heed my advice, because Penner exploded for 63 points.

That wouldn't be the first time fantasy owners have adjusted their valuation of Mr. Dustin Penner. But he was unable to build on that tremendous year, looking lost at times. The Oilers traded him to the Los Angeles Kings and he didn't look any better. Nor did he look good in 2011-12, his sixth season as an NHLer. Penner managed just 17 points and was an occasional healthy scratch. Fantasy owners were bailing on him faster than you can flip a pancake.

But then it happened again. Penner became “good” again. Besides posting 11 points in 20 playoff games, he played a physical brand of hockey and was one of the keys to the Kings winning the Stanley Cup. Some poolies cautiously came crawling back like an abused pet. Hopeful, yet almost certain they're making a mistake.

Yep. Screwed again. Penner rewarded his fantasy owners with another dog - 14 points in 33 games and just five in the post-season. So now we've learned. Penner holds no fantasy value and we'll never again fall for his charms.

Now hold on a minute. Don't laugh. But Penner is back with his original team the Anaheim Ducks. He's back on his original line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. And he's producing better than ever. Penner's plus-18 leads the entire league. He has 12 points in just 12 games, including eight in his past six. Last Thursday I wrote a column on the top lines in the NHL and used data prior to Wednesday's games. Had I included Anaheim's Wednesday game, this line would have slipped into the Top 10 thanks to Penner's four-point effort (the line combined for 10 points).

Can it last? Not at the current pace, but Penner has shown enough on this line that he would have to go into a pretty big slump to finally get removed. If healthy, I think he's a safe bet to get back above the 50-point mark and perhaps take a run at 60. Regardless, he is a great short-term pickup and I urge you to close your mind about how he's burned you in the past and give him another chance.

FOURTH-YEAR SHARK
Another name on the San Jose Sharks is emerging as a pretty solid fantasy asset, joining the rookie Tomas Hertl as one of the year's bigger surprises. Tommy Wingels has 13 points in 17 games, including six in five games heading into Sunday's action. Now having tied his point total from last year, as well as a career high, can we believe what we are seeing?

In Wingels' favor is the fact it's his fourth NHL season, which, as I first wrote about in The Hockey News Ultimate Fantasy Guide a decade ago, is the primary breakout year for a player. So the question is, will Wingels break out and post 30 points, 40 points…60 points? Where does he top out? All we can do is make an educated guess and understand that much of the end result will depend on linemates and health. Here are San Jose's line combos for the past three games (excluding Sunday), courtesy of Frozen Pool:

SAN JOSE SHARKS LINES FOR GAMES 2013-11-02 to 2013-11-07
EVEN STRENGTH
FORWARDS
#1
37.4%: COUTURE,LOGAN - HAVLAT,MARTY - MARLEAU,PATRICK
#2
23.4%: HERTL,TOMAS - KENNEDY,TYLER - THORNTON,JOE
#3
20.1%: HERTL,TOMAS - THORNTON,JOE - WINGELS,TOMMY
#4
19.1%: NIETO,MATTHEW - PAVELSKI,JOE - WINGELS,TOMMY

DEFENCE
#1
38.8%: BOYLE,DAN - STUART,BRAD
#2
33.6%: BRAUN,JUSTIN - VLASIC,MARC-EDOUARD
#3
27.6%: DEMERS,JASON - HANNAN,SCOTT

POWER PLAY
FORWARDS
#1
70.3%: COUTURE,LOGAN - MARLEAU,PATRICK - PAVELSKI,JOE - THORNTON,JOE
#2
23.1%: HAVLAT,MARTY - HERTL,TOMAS - WINGELS,TOMMY
#3
3.3%: MARLEAU,PATRICK - PAVELSKI,JOE
#4
3.3%: COUTURE,LOGAN - WINGELS,TOMMY

DEFENCE
#1
73%: BOYLE,DAN
#2
22.5%: BRAUN,JUSTIN - DEMERS,JASON
#3
4.5%: HANNAN,SCOTT - STUART,BRAD

Wingels is getting solid linemates (either Thornton or Pavelski) as well as secondary PP time. If things remain that way, there is no reason to believe Wingels will fail to reach 45 points. As with Penner above, he makes a great short-term pick-up and a promising long-term pick-up with decent upside.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com or follow him on Twitter at @DobberHockey.

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Fantasy Pool Look: Dustin Penner finds a fit