The Oilers have gone after yet another restricted free agent, this time signing Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner to a US$21.25-million, five-year offer sheet. The deal pays $4.25 million in each of the next five seasons, a huge raise over the league minimum $450,000 the 24-year-old Penner earned last season in the last year of his entry-level contract.
It is the second time in three weeks that the Oilers have gone after a restricted free agent, trying but failing to get Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres on July 6. The Sabres matched Edmonton’s $50-million, seven-year offer.
The Ducks have seven days to match Edmonton’s offer sheet. Should they decide not to match, the Ducks would receive from the Oilers a first-round draft pick as well as a second-round pick and a third-round choice.
An Oilers spokesman told The Canadian Press that the club would not comment until after Anaheim decides whether or not it will match. A Ducks spokesman said GM Brian Burke would reserve comment until Friday at the earliest.
“We’re going to wait and see what happens here in the next seven days before we make a comment,” Penner’s agent Gerry Johannson told The Canadian Press.
Oilers GM Kevin Lowe went after a team that doesn’t have much room under the salary cap right now. The defending Stanley Cup champion Ducks stand at around $48 million. The Penner signing would push the Ducks over the $50.3-million maximum but a team is allowed to be over the salary cap by 10 per cent until Oct. 1.
So Anaheim can match the Penner offer and then figure out later how to get under the cap.
The Ducks would save $6.75 million under the salary cap if defenceman Scott Niedermayer does decide to call it quits and signs his retirement papers. But Anaheim would much rather have its Conn Smythe Trophy winner back in the lineup and find another way to cut payroll.
Not counting against Anaheim’s salary cap right now is veteran winger Teemu Selanne, who is an unrestricted free agent. He has yet to decide whether or not he’ll retire. The Finnish Flash has previously said he would only return to the Ducks if he does decide to keep playing. Selanne earned $3.75 million last season.
Lowe, meanwhile, is trying to shore up his offence after failing to lure an unrestricted free-agent forward. He did sign free-agent defenceman Sheldon Souray but wants help up front.
Penner, a native of Winkler, Man., had 45 points (29-16) in 82 regular-season games while adding eight points (3-5) in 21 playoff games for the Cup champions in 2006-07. He had seven points (4-3) in 19 regular-season games in his rookie campaign in 2005-06, while also adding nine points (3-6) in 13 playoff games.
Undrafted by NHL teams, the six-foot-four, 243-pound Penner was signed by former Ducks GM Bryan Murray as a free agent out of U.S. college in May 2004.