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Pascal Dupuis Is Back — Now What?

Pascal Dupuis figures to help out on the wings next year for the Pens, but which line? Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty

Pascal Dupuis figures to help out on the wings next year for the Pens, but which line?
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty

Pascal Dupuis and the Pittsburgh Penguins made it official last week, the Penguins will get their heart back next season. Dupuis, recently cleared to take contact, missed almost all of last season leaving a gaping hole in the team ?s top-six as well as their collective hearts. However, with Dupuis coming back that raises quite a few questions and decisions for the team ?s front office.

An undrafted free-agent, Dupuis won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009 following a trade from Atlanta. He was a toss-in to Marian Hossa, but Dupuis quickly went from extra part to a pillar which the team is built upon and is now one of the city ?s favorite athletes. He defines hard work. He also makes a habit of doing just what others say he can ?t — from making the NHL to coming back better than ever from ACL surgery last fall. There is no doubt in anyone who knows Dupuis ? mind, he can play in the top-6 even at 36, but is that where he is best used?

The Laval, Quebec native can play all three forward positions including both wings and center with success. He ?s got the legs to move all 200 feet fast enough to keep pace with the best in the game and the vision to get open but also block shots on the penalty kill. If any more convincing is needed of what he can do, just remember this is the man who had 11 points in just 16 games last season before his season, and nearly his life, ended. He and Sidney Crosby love playing together as much as Sidney Crosby loves his 5 p.m. peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on game day.

But what would moving him down the lineup open up?

It ?s pretty simple. Dupuis can play with elite talent and he could make a great winger for Evgeni Malkin. Malkin, who has been without regular line mates since the departure of Jussi Jokinen and James Neal last off-season, successfully played with Dupuis a bit at the start of last season. In fact, it was Malkin who was on the ice with Dupuis when he was hit by a puck in the back of the neck last season. While Malkin proved he could squeeze offense out of a stone after Dupuis was returned to Crosby ?s wing and eventually shelved, Dupuis could be a great fit there to offer Malkin stability and speed.

Another option is to really make the team a four line scoring threat, something Jim Rutherford has made no secret is his aim, and place Dupuis in the bottom-six. This would allow the team to manage his ice time, especially given he will be returning after only playing 16 real games in the last year. He could bring serious punch to the third line and his 200-foot game could shut down opposing top lines.

Then again, there ?s Sidney Crosby. Crosby would love nothing more than to have Dupuis back on his wing. Having played together for parts of every season they ?ve been on the same team, they just get each other. Dupuis knows where to go when Sid wiggles his stick just so and Crosby knows where Duper likes to hang out when tracking the play.

Dupuis being back also means his $4M+ contract is back. For a team as tight to the cap as the Penguins, that means that another move could be imminent. Look for Chris Kunitz to be shopped heavily and potentially moved at the entry draft or beyond.

While Dupuis has pushed extra hard to keep his stride as he ?s aged, last season showed Kunitz slow significantly. His stagnant play down the stretch when the team truly needed it may just seal his fate. The team and its players still love him, but the Penguins need cap space and to get younger. He is, truly, a piece that can be replaced with youth and, potentially, at a lower price.

About Leah Blasko (68 Articles)
Leah is a hockey and city life contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. She is a 2013 graduate from the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State University.
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