After a season spent auditioning candidates for the top-line left wing spot alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals have acquired veteran winger Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a fourth-round pick.
Penner, 31, carries a salary-cap hit of $2 million and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s expected to join the team in Philadelphia prior to Wednesday’s game against the Flyers and will wear number 17.
“I hope to be in the lineup tomorrow [at the Flyers]. If I am not then I rushed for nothing,” Penner said on a conference call. “It’s a good challenge for me personally. I look forward to coming and hopefully adding something that they were looking for to help make the push to the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup.”
It’s a relatively low-risk move for the Capitals. They add a physical top-line presence and two-time Stanley Cup winner in the 6-4, 247 pound Penner and only had to send the 2014 fourth-round pick they received from Anaheim in the Mathieu Perreault trade on Sept. 29 back to the Ducks.
Penner, who is in the midst of his ninth NHL season, has recorded 13 goals and 32 points in 49 games with the Ducks this season. He’s spent the bulk of this season skating with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on Anaheim’s top line and it’s not difficult to imagine him having a role similar to that of former Capital Mike Knuble on Washington’s top unit.
The Capitals’ current roster structure, with Jack Hillen and Aaron Volpatti still on the long-term injured list according to the NHL’s official roster, the team has space to accommodate Penner’s salary cap hit. But Hillen is expected to be taken of LTIR ahead of the game against the Flyers, so Washington would need to make some other transaction whether a trade or another player to the injured list. But of course there’s plenty of time left for maneuvering ahead of the trade deadline at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
A Capitals spokesman says that General Manager George McPhee will not comment on the trade until after the deadline passes on Wednesday.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report the trade.