Pascal Dupuis is an excellent hockey player; a true professional that has the hockey assets to make any roster in the NHL, a player that I LOVE professionally. “Duper” has delivered at the most opportune times and been one of the most reliable Penguin players over the past five years. However, Dupuis is miscast as a first-line player, and moving him from the first line to the third line is the best move for the Penguins once Beau Bennett returns from injury. Moving Pascal Dupuis to the third line would open up the first line to a more skilled player (Bennett), making the first line significantly more dangerous. The added benefit would be the strengthening of a paper-thin third line. The Penguins will skate through the regular season regardless of which line Dupuis is on. But to actually win the Cup, the Penguins need more production out of the first and third lines.
Let’s take a deeper look at Dupuis:
Capable of playing and producing in a first line role with Sidney Crosby (does a lot of the dirty, unappreciated work that every star needs (See: October 30, 2013 vs. Boston)
Fantastic Penalty Killer…
By all accounts a Leader, a non-divisive voice in the locker room: His teammates like him (Crosby prefers to play on a line with him, despite what I think)…
Unselfishly fills a lot of meaningful roles for the Penguins…
Loves playing in Pittsburgh, has proven his loyalty by leaving money on the table to stay in the Steel City; although Duper is overpaid, he still turned down an opportunity for even more money in free agency to stay with the team (Don’t underestimate this fact – the players see that)
Scored 25 goals in 2011-2012 even though Crosby didn’t play a majority of the season…
He provided us with this youtube gem…
$3.75 million dollars; The money and the cap hit aren’t as crippling to the Pens as much as what the $3.75 million symbolizes when it comes to Dupuis and his role on the team. $3.75 million tells me the organization whole-heartedly believes one thing; Pascal Dupuis is going to be on the first line for the foreseeable future. I just can’t fathom how Penguins Coaches are going to move Duper to the third line at this point, and it cripples this team’s chances of winning the East, let alone the Cup. Sure, the Penguins could skate by the Islanders (barely) and an overmatched Ottawa Senators team, two teams willing to trade chances with the Penguins; but against the Big Bad Boston Bruins, a team that prides itself on defense, the Penguins managed to score a miniscule two goals in four games while being shut out twice.
I’m not saying to take Duper to the glue-factory tonight, this move doesn’t need to happen right now, Beau Bennett and James Neal are both still nursing injuries, but replacing Dupuis with Bennett does need to happen at some point if the Penguins plan on advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. Eastern Conference Defensive Aces like Zetterberg, Chara, & Bergeron are too good for the Penguins coaches not to have Crosby on a fully loaded line.
Why not Dupuis’ linemate Chris Kunitz? I’ll tell you why - Kunitz already won a Stanley Cup playing on the First Line with Crosby and veteran Bill Guerin, he’s a proven commodity. Not to mention, Kunitz is also the last person that successfully played on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, which as it turns out, is no small feat.
But don’t worry Dupuis fanatics; I wouldn’t anticipate this move anytime soon…
Take into account, Dan Bylsma, A coach that handles in-game adjustments like he were juggling live chainsaws, refused to move Dupuis off the first line in favor of 500 Goal Club Member Jarome Iginla last season, even during an elimination Game 4; so I don’t know how I could ever expect “Coach Disco” to move Duper down now that a player of Iginla’s caliber is gone, and Duper is financially entrenched as a top line player…
(Side Note: Did anyone else notice that it took Jarome Iginla about 15 seconds to sign with the Bruins for a paltry $1.8 Million Dollars this offseason? (Worth up to $6 million with incentives). He left so fast you’d have thought he robbed a bank…I’d imagine Iginla, a sure Hall of Famer, was probably less than impressed playing his non-wing in every game as a Penguin before being relegated to 3rd line duty in Game 4 against Boston (shame on you, Bylsma))
Duper had been a 3rd or 4th line player his entire career prior to 2010-2011. As a matter of fact, before playing on a line with Crosby for the past few seasons, the most “Duper” scored in a season was 20 goals in 2002-2003, the same year he had a career high in assists with 28 – he had never hit 30 goals or 30 assists in a season …ever. Even to this very second, Duper does not play on the first Power Play Unit.
Now for perhaps the most damning evidence on Dupuis: Take the stats of Player A and Player B from 2005-2010…a Five year span that would cover Dupuis roughly from age 26-31, his physical prime …
2005-2006: Player A: 10 G – 26 Pts Player B: 16 Goals – 40 Points (47 GP)
2006-2007: Player A: 14 G – 19 Points Player B: 12 Goals – 34 Points
2007-2008: Player A: 12 G – 24 Points Player B: 13 Goals – 35 Points
2008-2009: Player A: 12 G – 28 Points Player B: 22 Goals – 40 Points
2009-2010: Player A: 18 G – 38 Points Player B: 15 Goals – 29 Points
Player A was outscored by Player B in four of five seasons;
Player A scored 66 Goals and 69 Assists during that five year time period (135 Points): Player B had 78 goals and 100 Assists during those same seasons (178 Points).
Player A and Player B were traded for each other in 2008.
Player B is currently playing in Sweden.
Player A is Pascal Dupuis http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=29605
… Player B is …wait for it …
…Colby Armstrong. Now go re-read that last paragraph with the names.
Objectively speaking, Bennett can do everything that Dupuis can do at this point in addition to having a better offensive pedigree… Bennett possesses similar speed, defensive tenacity, and hockey IQ to Dupuis; In Bennett’s limited action last year, he jumped off the page as a two way player – Granted, Bennett has only three goals in thirty four professional games, but at the very least, he is more than capable of growing into a first line role with Crosby.
And for those that argue Bennett should play with Malkin, I would ask, “Who are you building this team around? Crosby or Malkin?” Malkin already has James Neal and the two of them have left a graveyard of off-wingers the past two seasons – No thanks.
As for Duper, of course anything short of playing on a line with Sidney Crosby is going to be a step down – but imagine a Dupuis-Sutter-Jokinen third line – it would be one of the top 3 checking lines in the league, turning a depth-ravaged line for the Penguins in to a position of strength. Understanding that the first two lines are going to be productive regardless…
And I know after reading this it’s going to be hard to believe, but I love that the Penguins have Pascal Dupuis, he’s an unselfish, hard-working, productive, asset; but removing Dupuis from the first line will soon be necessary, for Crosby’s benefit, and the team’s long-term benefit – but it won’t be easy, breaking up is hard to do, especially when it hurts someone you love.