Pascal Dupuis: The Most Important Upcoming UFA by @MadChad412 - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pascal Dupuis: The Most Important Upcoming UFA by @MadChad412

Pittsburgh Penguins' forward Pascal Dupuis has quickly become one of the most loved players on the team, and one of the most improved forwards in the entire NHL over the years. When the Pens first acquired Dupuis, I really didn't expect much of him. He was known as a checking-line forward with good speed. Since then, he's transformed himself into a valuable member of the Penguins, and is now their most important upcoming free-agent.

 Dupuis was acquired in the "Marian Hossa trade" in the 2007-2008 trade between the Pens and then Atlanta Thrashers.

The Pens sent Atlanta (Now Winnipeg) Colby Armstrong, Eric Christensen, Angelo Esposito, and a first-round pick for Dupuis and Hossa. The deal ended up being a huge win for the Pens mostly because of the improvement of Dupuis' play. Hossa was awesome for the Pens in the playoffs that year, helping them get within two wins of a Stanley Cup championship.

Unfortunately, Hossa left as a free agent to the Detroit Red Wings that same summer. The good news is Dupuis has turned into an instrumental and important player for the Penguins and I now think he's the most important upcoming free agent for this franchise. Of course the Pens have little cap room going into next season with a big list of free-agents that includes; Matt Cooke, Brenden Morrow, Mark Eaton, Douglas Murray, and Jarome Iginla.

I would love for the Pens to be able to re-sign all of them but thanks to the salary cap actually going down that's not an option. The Pens could buyout Brooks Orpik’s contract to help them in terms of cap room, but they probably aren't going to do that. This of course will make all of these trade acquisitions rental players, with the exception of Jussi Jokinen who is already signed through next season.

I do not think the Pens should or will re-sign Iginla. If Iginla is actually willing to take a huge discount to stay with the Pens, which I don’t see happening, I think he leaves after the playoffs are over.

As of now the Pens have $8.5 million in projected cap space for next season. Dupuis' last contract was a bargain to say the least making $1.5 million, which is less than what Tyler Kennedy has been making ($2 million). Dupuis has gone from a third and fourth line grinder to a top line producer. He's found a way to use his speed and hockey awareness to make him a perfect line-mate for Sidney Crosby. Dupuis is a two-way forward that has improved his offensive game and production every single year that he's been with the Pens.

Dupuis is also a fan-favorite, not that it matters in terms of re-signing a guy, but it's a nice bonus. He's arguably the funniest guy on the team and provides the fans, media, and his teammates with some hilarious moments off the ice. Again, it doesn't have anything to do with re-signing him but it's a nice plus.

Dupuis has outperformed his current contract. Now it's time for the Pens to reward him. On the open market, Dupuis could probably get close to $3 million a year. I think the Pens could grab the 34 year-old forward with a two-year contract, three years at the most. I would like to think they could get him around $2.5 mil a year, $3 million at the most. I don't think they can afford to pay him much more but he's definitely the most important free agent they have.

Of all the upcoming free agents in the NHL, Dupuis has the second most points behind Washington's Mike Riberio. Dupuis has transformed himself into a top-six forward. The bad news for Dupuis is if he leaves for more money he won't have Crosby as his line-mate. That means fewer goals and fewer points.

The problem is Dupuis has already taken fewer years and less money to play in Pittsburgh. Will he do it again? It's easy for fans to suggest that and want that but would you honestly turn down fewer years and less money twice in your life? I wouldn't blame Dupuis either way.

In the end, Pittsburgh is a perfect place for Dupuis and I think he will end up staying here. He loves the city, the fans, and he's built chemistry with Chris Kunitz and Crosby. His versatility makes him an important part of the team. He gives you speed, can play on the PK, and adds scoring depth. Iginla is at the end of his career and doesn't give you the versatility that Dupuis does. Not to mention that Dupuis will also be cheaper than Iglina, assuming the Pens sign him before July.

Sign the man Mr. Shero!

-Mad Chad

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