Pascal Dupuis: What to Expect from His Return


The Pittsburgh Penguins will receive a huge morale boost next season if veteran winger Pascal Dupuis is indeed able to return to the lineup.

Dupuis missed all but 16 games this season after learning of a blood clot in his lung, forcing him to remain sidelined while being treated with blood-thinners.

He missed most of the prior season as well, sitting out with a significant knee injury.

Much was said last summer about the inevitability of Dupuis slowing down due to his age (36 years old), and yet when the veteran did finally return, he did so at full speed, ensuring he had not lost his signature skill set even after his injury misfortune.

Such will be the case this time around as Dupuis looks determined to put forth a season of redemption in Pittsburgh.

His return is not yet certain, but both Dupuis and the Pens organization have said they are confident he will be ready to re-join the club next season.

Dupuis will return to a very different team than the one he left, however.

First of all, there’s a good bet his time on Sidney Crosby‘s wing is over.

Running mate Chris Kunitz experienced the same thing this season, as Kunitz was bumped for Patric Hornqvist and David Perron.

A rib injury to Perron and a need to spark some offense allowed Kunitz to find his way back to Crosby’s wing at the end of the season, but the lack of production during the playoffs likely didn’t help his case.

With both Dupuis and Kunitz another year closer to 40, head coach Mike Johnston is likely to look in another direction for his top-six wingers. Hornqvist and Perron will certainly be part of that group. Players like Blake Comeau and Beau Bennett could find a place there as well.

Past that, it’s likely the Pens’ management team seeks outside help in the effort to bolster their offense. General Manager Jim Rutherford has already indicated that he intends to pursue a big-time winger via the trade market.

Thus, Dupuis looks set to return, most likely, on the third line. That being the case, his production is sure to dip. Dupuis’ best seasons as a Penguin came in the last two before the injuries started. He put up 25 goals in 2011-12 and 20 (in only 48 games) in 2012-13.

Considering his well-documented work ethic and indomitable will, it’s not out of the question to expect Dupuis to return at roughly the same level he left in terms of speed and skill. His recent injuries, and a diminished role, will limit his success, however.

Regardless, the return of Dupuis will be essential for Pittsburgh, as the veteran has become one of the team’s most respected leaders, on and off the ice. His morale-boosting presence in the locker room and his tireless work ethic caused the team’s management to keep Dupuis around the team following his season ending injury news. He did all he could from the bench and the press box, trying to keep his group moving forward.

It will be much easier for Dupuis to make an impact once he returns to the ice, however. Assuming the Pens finally infuse some young blood into their roster next season (which is sure to be the case once Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot return, as well as Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington, who will both vie for a roster spot), Dupuis’ presence will be all the more important, as few are better equipped to teach and motivate those who are unfamiliar to the NHL environment.

Dupuis may not return as the speedy winger who lit it up nightly alongside Sidney Crosby, but make no mistake, he remains crucial to this club’s success.

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