The Anaheim Mighty Ducks have snagged Dustin Penner away from Maine, signing the forward to a three-year contract. Contract terms were not disclosed.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Penner came alive in the postseason for Maine, attracting a lot of attention. His loss will leave a huge void, and came as a surprise to the Black Bears.
“It’s too bad it didn’t happen my senior year, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Penner said to the Bangor Daily News. “It was a really hard decision. I wrestled with it for about three weeks.”
Penner ended the season with eleven goals and twelve assists for 23 points in 43 games played in his junior year. Five of his goals were on the power play. He also had 18 penalties for 52 minutes. He helped the Black Bears reach the NCAA championship game, scoring the game-winning goal against Boston College in the semifinals. He also scored Maine’s first goal in the three-overtime Hockey East Championship game victory against Massachusetts.
At the Maine Hockey Awards banquet last week, Penner was named recipient of the Jack Semler Most Improved Player Award.
Penner was pursued hard following the Frozen Four, but eventually was wooed by Anaheim assistant general manager David McNabb.
“[McNabb] said, ‘This is what we expect and we’ll give you all the opportunities in the world to make sure you become the best player you can be,'” said Penner to the Daily News. “It’s nice to go where you feel wanted.”
The 21-year old native of Winkler, Manitoba, sat out the 2002-03 season as a redshirt. He was a diamond in the rough, discovered by Maine assistant coach Grant Standbrook after playing at Minot State University-Bottineau, where he played in 23 games and had 23 points. He also had earned MVP honors from his high school team.