LOS ANGELES - The Anaheim Ducks cut ties with Dustin Penner on Thursday when the team opted not to match a five-year, $21.25 million offer sheet from the Edmonton Oilers for the 24-year-old left winger.
The Ducks will receive picks in the first, second and third rounds of the 2008 draft from Edmonton as compensation.
Penner, who was a restricted free agent, will get a huge raise from the Oilers, earning $4.25 million in each of the next five seasons. He made the NHL minimum of $450,000 last season, when he scored 29 goals for the Stanley Cup champion Ducks.
Anaheim had a week to match Edmonton’s offer and waited until Thursday’s deadline had passed before announcing it was letting Penner go.
“We don’t believe these salaries make sense,” Anaheim general manager Brian Burke said on a conference call. “If I believe these salaries don’t make sense and I match then I’m just as dumb as the team that extended the offer.”
Burke was incensed by the terms and amount of last week’s offer, and at the time he had especially harsh words for Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe, saying, “Edmonton has offered a mostly inflated salary for a player, and I think it’s an act of desperation for a general manager who is fighting to keep his job.”
Burke’s feelings about Lowe didn’t change as the Ducks decided over the last week whether to match the offer sheet.
“It’s certainly not a priority for me to mend this fence,” he said.
And apparently not for Lowe, either.
“I have not (called him) and I don’t plan on it,” Lowe said on a conference call. “I have one responsibility and one responsibility only — and that’s to the Edmonton Oilers’ fans and the Edmonton Oilers’ ownership.
“I’m not in the business of trying to make friends. Never have, never will be.”
Burke made it clear that his hard feelings didn’t extend to Penner.
“Dustin is a good kid and a good person and he played well for us,” he said.
Besides his 29 goals, Penner had 16 assists in his first full NHL season. He had three goals and five assists in 21 postseason games.
“The pressure that I receive from the media and fans won’t be near the pressure of what I put on myself,” he said in a conference call. “I know myself I didn’t peak this last year as a player in Anaheim. I don’t know what my potential is, but I think in the next five years I’ll find out.”
Burke stressed that he had no problem with offer sheets, which are part of the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement.
“I do respect the system,” he said. “You can’t whine about somebody putting in an offer sheet on one of your players. And the better your team is, you’re going to be targeted.
“I just decided that this offer doesn’t make sense.”
Burke said he suspects that most of the NHL’s other GMs would share his view that such a big-money offer to a young player like Penner is “highly inflationary in that age group. I’ll be shocked if there’s not significant support for that view among my brethren.
“Is my opinion important to Kevin Lowe? Obviously not.”
The Ducks don’t have much room under the salary cap. They are around $5 million below the $50.3 million maximum for next season, although a team is allowed to be over the salary cap by 10 percent until Oct. 1.
Anaheim is still waiting on defenseman Scott Niedermayer and winger Teemu Selanne to decide whether they will retire or play next season. Burke said nothing has changed with their status.
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