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Pascal Dupuis: A bright spot for Pittsburgh in 2011-12
What exactly got into Pascal Dupuis last year? Career highs across the board, including 25 goals, 34 assists, 59 points in 82 games. He’d reached the 20-goal mark only once in his nine NHL seasons. His point total was higher than two of the last three years from Marian Hossa. Wasn’t Duper supposed to be the throw-in in that 2008 deadline deal?
The Penguins forward was expected to see most of his time alongside Sidney Crosby but things didn’t quite work out that way. Dupuis ended up skating most effectively with Jordan Staal and Steve Sullivan, producing an NHL-high 17-game point streak in the regular season along the way.
Players in their early 30s – Dupuis turned 33 on April 7, aren’t supposed to have career years unless they play baseball on steroids, and Barry Bonds retired in 2007.
What makes Duper’s season more remarkable is that he did his damage without the benefit of substantial power-play time. He ranked 19th on the Pens with 23 seconds of average power-play time, behind such luminaries as Cal O’Reilly, Colin McDonald and Alexandre Picard. Dupuis did not score one time on the man advantage.
He saw the fourth-highest number of minutes of short-handed ice time (2:16) among forwards. That’s pretty much been an area that’s kept Dupuis around so long. He’s an excellent penalty killer who uses his outstanding speed to make smart plays in his own end. He netted three goals short-handed.
Dupuis’ bread-and-butter was his production at even strength. Five forwards saw more time than his 14:15, four if you don’t include Crosby’s 22 games. Still, Dupuis scored 22 goals 5-on-5, tying him for 25th in the league. By comparison, Claude Giroux, Rick Nash and James Neal all totaled 22 goals at even strength, putting Dupuis in good company.
Dupuis did go dry for a spell. From Dec. 29 to Feb. 5 he failed to find the back of the net, a span of 17 games. Pittsburgh went 9-8 in those contests.
Dupuis fits the Penguins philosophy perfectly. He’s an aggressive forechecker looking to keep the puck in the other team’s end. He works hard, plays an unselfish game and has the versatility to play in any number of roles.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has one more year left at $1.5 million.
There are a few questions surrounding Dupuis, as there are with all players.
Can he maintain his style of play at 33? Should the Pens look to extend his contract now or wait until he becomes an unrestricted free agent? Can the team continue to count on him for secondary scoring or was 2011-12 more of an aberration than the norm?
Dupuis rallied with an excellent 2011-12 when the team really needed offensive production from players other than Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. He didn’t stand out in the playoffs but collected two goals and six points in as many games. Not too shabby, but offense wasn't the problem against the Flyers. His stock is pretty high. Might the Penguins move Dupuis?
The team isn’t getting any younger and if the return is solid then GM Ray Shero has to at least consider trading Duper, or any number of other players.
Given Dupuis’ affordable contract numbers and his contributions, Pittsburgh would be hardpressed to get better value than it does out of the Laval, Quebec native.
Here’s a snippet from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette detailing the trade that would bring Marian Hossa (and Pascal Dupuis) to the Penguins.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Penguins general manager Ray Shero made a bold move minutes before the NHL trade deadline today, acquiring right winger Marian Hossa from Atlanta.
The Penguins sent forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, highly regarded prospect Angelo Esposito and a first-round draft choice to the Thrashers in the deal. They also received winger Pascal Dupuis from Atlanta.
Hossa, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, has 26 goals and 30 assists in 60 games this season.
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