Pascal Dupuis: The Most Underrated Pittsburgh Penguin?

Don AndrascikContributor IAugust 4, 2010

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 30:  Pascal Dupuis #9 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Montreal Canadiens in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 30, 2010 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

In 2008, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero shocked the hockey world with one of the most aggressive moves of his career.  As time was running out on the NHL trade deadline, Shero acquired Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis from the Atlanta Thrashers. 

That trade may go down as the greatest trade that Shero has ever made, though he could out-do himself in the future.  The trade is reminiscent of what Craig Patrick was able to do in 1991.  Shero’s trade really didn’t pay off until the year after the move was made, but that’s okay, the goal was achieved.

Pascal Dupuis is the one player on the Pens roster who always seems to get overlooked.  I remember a lot of people asking, who is this guy?  Is he any good?  I can honestly say that unless you’ve watched a lot of hockey over the years, his name would be pretty foreign to you.  The thing I don’t understand is how a lot of fans can say that he is expendable after he’s played the better part of two and a half years in a Penguins' sweater. 

It’s that mentality that makes me ask if Pascal Dupuis truly is underrated.  After a lot of thought on this issue, my conclusion is that he is in fact underrated, and maybe it’s time he starts to get recognized for how much he plays a part in the Pens' success. 

He has decent size for a forward at 6’1".  He is arguably one of the fastest skaters on the team.  His shot is definitely in the cannon department, and he has shown glimpses of his offensive skills throughout his time as a Penguin.  The more minutes he gets, the more he shows he is a very diligent winger.  So diligent in fact that he is a candidate to be a top-six forward.

I realize this angers some fans, as they crave for an elite winger to become part of the team.  The reality is that getting a winger of elite status probably won’t occur until the trade deadline, as players' cap hits are more affordable at that time of year.  With that being said, there are a lot of benefits to having a guy like Pascal Dupuis.

The most appealing factor to Dupuis is how he can be put anywhere in the lineup and seamlessly fit in.  He’s played on every line, including special teams, and it just somehow seems to fit.  He’s an excellent penalty killer, and his production in points increased as he received more playing time.

What that tells me is that Dupuis is a smart hockey player who is willing to throw himself into a variety of roles because of that knowledge.

Should that give him the nod to play on Crosby’s wing on opening night?  Why not?  He proved that he could play with Sid and Hossa during the end of the 2008 season and during the Pens' run to the final.  The best part of him being on that line was the support he provided to his two superstar linemates.

Dupuis is the type of player who will go into the corners and fight for the puck.  He rarely ever gets caught in the offensive zone when the play is going the other way.  He back-checks like a madman and is always willing to give up his body.  These qualities are living proof that the guy knows his position and what it takes to provide support for his team.

He will have an enormous amount of pressure on him to perform considering this is a contract year.  He will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
I am hoping that Shero signs him to a contract extension before that window runs out.

A lot of other teams wouldn’t mind having him based on his performance.  He’s the type of role player who adds to the offensive dynamic with hard work and by doing all the little things that make a team successful.

His cap hit is only $1.4 million dollars, and playing in the top six could only boost his point total of 38 points (18-20-38) from last season.  No, Pascal Dupuis is not an elite winger, but he is a great alternative to one.