- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Capitals have acquired forward Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks for a fourth-round pick.

Penner, 31, is a left wing with 13 goals and 19 assists this season under former Washington coach Bruce Boudreau. He is in the final year of a contract that pays $2 million. Penner is a two-time Stanley Cup champion winner with Anaheim in 2006-07 and the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12.

At 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, Penner is a big body and plays left wing. That position is in some question now that Brooks Laich missed Tuesday’s practice at Kettler Iceplex with his lingering groin issue. The Caps had a day off on Monday, too, but Laich’s status is in doubt for Wednesday’s game at Philadelphia. Laich had been playing on the first line next to Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.

Penner’s best season was in 2009-10 with the Edmonton Oilers when he had 32 goals and 31 assists. But he dropped to 45 points the next season and struggled through a miserable campaign in 2011-12 with the Kings before catching fire in the playoffs (three goals, 11 assists).

He appeared in just 33 games last season with the Kings and it was clear he was no longer in that team’s plans. So Penner re-signed a one-year contract with Anaheim, where he began his career. He was expected to play on the top line this season with former linemates Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

And that’s been the case in 49 games. Penner spent 82 percent of his ice time at even strength with Perry and 76.6 with Getzlaf, according to the web site extraskater.com.

Washington had two fourth-round selections in the 2014 thanks to an earlier trade with the Ducks for center Mathieu Perreault.

The move initially works under the NHL’s salary cap of $64.3 million with defenseman Jack Hillen still on long-term injured reserve and the demotion of forward Nicolas Deschamps to AHL Hershey on Tuesday. But they are only $82,574 under the cap, according to the web site CapGeek.com, and Hillen is expected to return to the active roster for Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. He hasn’t played in a game since Oct. 3 thanks to a broken right leg. 

Another move is likely needed to clear more space. Mikhail Grabovski (left ankle) is also injured again and hasn’t been seen on the ice since last Thursday’s game against Florida. He could be an LTIR candidate. Forward Martin Erat has also repeatedly asked for a trade this season and general manager George McPhee has said he will try to make that happen by Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. Erat has a salary of $4.5 million.