When asked about his chances of returning to the Kings, Penner said, "I'd say they're pretty good. I want to be back." He then noted that he would be willing to take a pay cut to remain with the team.
If Penner wants to stay in Los Angeles, a reduced salary may be in order. The Kings have $16 million in cap space, but they are expected to sign goaltender Jonathan Quick to a long-term deal during this offseason. There are also rumors that the Kings are interested in signing Zach Parise. If Los Angeles convinces Parise to sign, then I don't expect the team to pay Penner the same $4.25 million salary that it did last season.
The question becomes: what is Penner worth to the Kings? He managed just 17 points in 65 regular season games this past season. Some fans could argue that his production was down because of his various injuries, and I believe that's a fair assessment. However, his injury problems aren't enough to ignore his struggles, especially since he wasn't very productive during his brief time with the Kings in the 2010-2011 season.
Still, Penner turned in an outstanding performance during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. His 11 points in 20 postseason games made a huge offensive impact on the team as it made its championship run. Does this mean that the Kings should give Penner a contract extension? If so, should they offer him the same pay or should it be a reduced salary?
Personally, I like having a player with Penner's size in the lineup. When he's playing well, Penner does an excellent job using his large frame to dominate the area in front of the goal. This is something that he proved throughout the playoffs. Yet I don't think he's worth a $4.25 million salary. If Penner is willing to take a pay cut, then the Kings should re-sign him. He is worth keeping on the roster at a lower salary.
Derek Ciapala has been a Kings fan since the late 1980s. His favorite Kings moment is when they beat the New Jersey Devils in six games to win the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.