Penner’s days with the Kings may be numbered

It would appear to be all but a forgone conclusion that the Dustin Penner era with the Los Angeles Kings has come to an end.

With the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million and the Kings already committed to just over $56 million to 15 players with eight players still to sign to fill out the 23-man roster, there just isn’t enough left in the kitty to pay Penner who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 5.

Penner is coming off a 1-year, $3.25 million contract and though he will likely have to take a paycut regardless of where he signs, Penner is likely to field offers in the range of $1.5-$2 million per season. The Kings would only be in a position to offer him a deal in the area of $800-900K.

When general manager Dean Lombardi made the trade to acquire Penner in February of 2011, he thought he was getting a four-time 20-goal scorer who would easily slide in as one of the team’s top six forwards. At 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds, Penner has the size that should allow him to be one of the league’s top power forwards. But in 117 regular season games with the Kings, he scored a disappointing 11 goals and 26 assists, never solidifying his role on the team and even found himself a healthy scratch on numerous occasions.

Still the two time Stanley Cup Champion (L.A. and Anaheim) seemed to save his best for the postseason. Despite scoring just seven playoff goals with the Kings, he had a knack for scoring big time goals when it mattered most.

His overtime goal in Game 5 the Western Conference Finals last year propelled the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. And who could forget his goal with two tenths of second left in the second period of Game 6 against St. Louis in this year’s playoffs?

Penner is not the only member of the Los Angeles Kings likely to be changing area codes. With Jonathan Quick entrenched as the starting goalie, Jonathan Bernier is likely to finally get his wish and be traded. Bernier has been a good foot soldier the past two seasons as the backup to Quick.
According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, Bernier was told in his exit meeting by Lombardi that every effort is being made to move Bernier to another NHL team where he can compete to be the team’s No. 1 goalie.

A deal involving Bernier should happen no later than the NHL Draft on June 30. Possible destinations include Philadelphia and Toronto.

This should be an interesting offseason for the Kings. With very little to spend and eight players still needing to be signed, Lombardi and his staff are going to need to be very creative in filling out the bottom six forwards and the few spots to be filled on the blue line.