Penguins' Dupuis likely done for rest of season
RALEIGH, N.C. — One of the most irreplaceable Penguins is done for the season.
Right wing Pascal Dupuis suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and will undergo surgery in approximately two weeks, according to coach Dan Bylsma.
Replacing Dupuis' versatility will be an arduous task for general manager Ray Shero, should he attempt to land a forward before the March 6 trade deadline.
“The thing about Duper is that he literally does everything well,” said Carolina center and former teammate Jordan Staal. “They are going to miss him a ton.”
Don't look for the Penguins to stand pat if it is determined that a top-six forward could help them at the trade deadline.
“If this injury happens after the trade deadline,” Shero said, “it's much more of a problem.”
Shero isn't in a rush to make a move. He pointed out that Beau Bennett — a player with top-six pedigree, among a host of other players — will return to the lineup soon.
But Shero has been aggressive at the trade deadline in the past and might have a need for a forward that wasn't previously expected.
“The good news is that there's still half a season to play,” Shero said. “If someone can help us improve, then great.”
Shero acknowledged that replacing Dupuis won't be easy.
“It shows you how far he's come with us,” Shero said. “It's going to be a loss in the short term, maybe in the long term. At least at some point we do get players back.”
Dupuis' responsibilities for the Penguins are significant:
• He is Sidney Crosby's right wing. Crosby prefers Dupuis by his side so much that he opted to play with him instead of Jarome Iginla last season.
• Dupuis has flourished on all four lines while with the Penguins, and in a pinch, can play all three forward positions as well as the point on the power play.
• Dupuis arguably is the Penguins' best penalty killer.
• He ranks fourth among Penguins forwards with 69 hits and plays with tremendous speed, something that is crucial in Bylsma's system.
• Dupuis is a respected and vocal figure in the locker room.
Bylsma said although there is no timetable for Dupuis' return, it's “likely he might miss the rest of the season.”
Players typically require close to a year to fully recover from the surgery. Dupuis, who turns 35 in April, relies heavily on his legs to produce the speed that has made him a fixture on Crosby's line.
He signed a four-year, $15 million deal — far less than what he could have received on the open market — to remain with the Penguins in July.
“Filling his shoes won't be easy,” left wing Tanner Glass said. “Those are big shoes.”
Forward Joe Vitale replaced Dupuis alongside Crosby on Friday against Carolina.
No one on the Penguins roster can fill so many roles.
“It's going to be tough without him,” Crosby said. “He does so many things.”
It was a particularly serious locker room on Friday in Raleigh as the Penguins seemed a bit rattled by Dupuis' injury news.
The league's No. 2-ranked penalty killing unit will miss Dupuis, whose speed, energy and shot-blocking annually helps the Penguins produce one of the league's best percentages.
“He's one of the best,” right wing Craig Adams said. “Obviously, it won't be easy to replace that.”
The Penguins' team concept will be tested in Dupuis' absence.
“Our success has been based on team play,” Bylsma said. “Our calling card has been work ethic and team play.”
The Penguins might need to rely on those attributes more than ever.
“Losing a guy like that will really hurt them,” Staal said. “Everything he does, he does well. And I know Sid loves playing with him.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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