*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. Pascal Dupuis receiving clearance today to play next season is great news for him personally. Dupuis has been determined to not go out this way and he’s been passionate about playing again. Everyone knows the risks (if you have had pulmonary embolism once, you are more likely to have it again which is what happened with Dupuis) as does Dupuis and with four young kids it would certainly be easy to just go on long term injured reserve the next two seasons and collect the $7 million in salary he has left on his contract.
However, it’s his life, who are we to judge whether he’s doing the right thing or not. This is what he wants to do.
2. While the news of Pascal playing again is great news for him but is it great news for Penguins? As great of a guy Dupuis is and how important he’s been in the past, it’s still a fair question to ask. As I wrote a few weeks ago, he’s the $3.75 million elephant in the room right now.
The question hasn’t been whether Dupuis would get cleared, it’s been whether Dupuis will get through an 82 game season and what type of player will he be at age 36?
Dupuis has played in just 16 of the Penguins last 127 games (regular season and playoffs). Last season Dupuis had 6 goals and 11 points in 16 games but it was such a small sampling and you have to factor in the adrenaline rush Dupuis and the entire team was playing with early in the season under a new coach. Chris Kunitz had 8 goals in his 12 games and we saw what happened there.
In 2013-2014 over a 39 game span, Dupuis prior to the knee injury was showing signs of taking a step back with 7 goals in 39 games. Expecting the Dupuis we saw prior to 2013-2014 season just isn’t going to happen.
The good thing for Dupuis, though, is that if the hands start to go like what happened to Chris Kunitz this past season, he’s versatile enough and has the speed to give the Penguins something in a bottom-6/PK role. For the Penguins they have to go into the off-season projecting Dupuis as a third liner at best. He may start out in the top-6, which isn’t the worst thing, but in projecting Dupuis over an 82 game season and post-season, the Penguins need to be realistic with themselves and should be looking at him as a bottom-6 player at this stage in his career.
3. If your vision is to have four lines that are a threat to score and a 4th line that can provide secondary scoring, the type of team the Penguins want to become, you can’t commit to having Max Lapierre as your 4th line center and that’s a reason Lapierre is receiving little support throughout the organization to resign. It’s as easy as that.
On the flip side, if you want to become a heavy, gritty team, than you resign Lapierre. The issue for the Penguins in the past has been trying to mix in both on the 4th line and it just doesn’t work.
A significant key for them moving forward is identifying a vision and sticking with it. They appear to be doing so right now which is good. We just have to wait and see whether they stick with it.
4. In what’s becoming a summer ritual, the Arizona Coyotes are a mess with the city of Glendale terminating their lease with the Coyotes. The NHL should have put their egos aside and cut their losses a few years ago and moved the team. It would have been interesting if this happened last year. Through some back channels the Penguins did look into Coyotes GM Don Maloney during their GM search last summer. Many wonder what he’d do with a big budget team.
5. The Pirates slotted bonus pool of under $7.5 million forced the team to shy away from upside high school players in the middle rounds. The Pirates had a list of over 100 players, mostly high school players who were seeking over $500,000 in bonuses. “The system is working, but it’s making it challenging to be able to draft high school players unless you grab them early,” Neal Huntington said during a conference call on Wednesday.
The system was made to limit the outrageous demands from agents for top picks as it was getting out of control, which it has done, but what it has also done is hurt small market teams like the Pirates. Josh Bell likely doesn’t happen if the rule was in place then.