ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals added a potentially significant piece to their lineup Tuesday with the acquisition of veteran forward Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks. Penner is a natural left winger who could play alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin on the Capitals’ No.1 line.
Listed at 6 feet 4 inches and 247-pounds, Penner instantly becomes the biggest player on the Capitals roster and should provide a much welcome net front presence for the Capitals’ top unit. The 31-year-old had 13 goals and 32 points in 49 games with Anaheim this season and frequently played with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on the Ducks’ top line.
“It’s a good challenge for me personally,” said Penner, who carries a salary cap hit of $2 million and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. “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 is a two-time Stanley Cup champion himself, having won with Anaheim in 2007 and with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012. The nine-year NHL veteran has also played with the Edmonton Oilers.
The Capitals revolving first-line left wing position has been filled at times this season by Marcus Johansson, Martin Erat and Brooks Laich. Laich has skated alongside Backstrom and Ovechkin in all three games since the Olympic break, but Laich took a maintenance day Tuesday and did not practice with the team. The 30- year-old has battled groin injuries for the better part of two seasons.
“He’s a little bit banged up,” head coach Adam Oates said after practice. “He plays such a physical game, his lower body is sore and hopefully it’s just sore and nothing else.”
Penner will meet the Capitals in Philadelphia and is expected to make his Caps debut Wednesday against the Flyers. The Capitals remain on the outside of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference but trail the New York Rangers by one point for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Capitals acquired Penner in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft – a pick the Capitals originally acquired from Anaheim in September in the trade that sent Mathieu Perreault to Anaheim. The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday at 3:00 p.m.
Catch the Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. Pregame coverage begins at 7:45 p.m., online at www.WFED.com.