The Capitals acquired left wing Dustin Penner from the Ducks on Tuesday in exchange for a 2014 fourth-round draft pick, bolstering their forward depth ahead of the NHL’s trade deadline Wednesday.
A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Penner has 13 goals and 32 points in 49 games this season, spending the majority of his ice time alongside star forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on Anaheim’s top line. The 6-foot-4, 247-pounder will be expected to fill a similar role in Washington, where his net-front presence will be a welcome addition.
It is a relatively low-risk move for the Capitals, who add a bruising power forward with top-six experience and a championship pedigree as they push toward a playoff berth.
“It’s a good challenge for me personally,” Penner said of joining the Capitals and leaving the league-leading Ducks. “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.”
Penner hopes to make his Washington debut tonight against the Flyers, but in order to do so, the Capitals will need to make room.
The 31-year-old, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, carries a $2 million salary-cap charge. With defenseman Jack Hillen slated to return from a broken leg today, the Capitals have to make a corresponding move to fit Penner.
That can be accomplished by either placing a player on long-term injured reserve before the game or making another trade before the 3 p.m. deadline.
While the addition of Penner is helpful, it does not address the Capitals’ most glaring need: top-four defensive depth. Washington, which has dressed 13 different defensemen this season, has long needed a reliable shutdown defenseman to shore up the back end.
Affordable options that could have potentially filled that void, such as Mike Weaver and Andrew MacDonald, were both traded on Tuesday for draft picks, the former to the Canadiens and the latter to the Flyers.