Tuesday night, after defenseman Kris Letang agreed to an eight-year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins, I wrote that the odds of fellow French-Canadian Pascal Dupuis sticking around were “quite slim.” My reasoning was that Dupuis’ reported $4 million-per-year demands would be too much for Penguins general manager Ray Shero to justify.
It turns out Shero and his staff didn’t think that way, as they were able to get Dupuis’ signature on a new four-year deal just prior to the midnight hour, two days before the 33-year-old winger was to become an unrestricted free agent. The fresh contract will pay Dupuis an average of $3.75 million per year and will last through the 2016-17 season.
Since arriving in Pittsburgh via trade at age 28, the 6-foot-1 Dupuis has steadily increased his production – and his role with the Penguins. He’s missed just two games due to injury over the past four regular seasons, carving out a niche as a durable, versatile, speedy winger who can play on any of the forward lines and also be effective on the penalty kill.
Dupuis set career-highs in goals (25), assists (34) and games played (82) in 2011-12, and the Quebec native only improved in the shortened 2013 campaign, putting up 20 goals and 48 points in 48 games. His sterling playoff performance (seven goals, 11 points) seemed to put him further out of the Penguins’ price range, especially after Evgeni Malkin and oft-linemate Chris Kunitz took up future salary-cap space by signing extensions in June.
But Dupuis had consistently expressed his desire to stay in Pittsburgh, where he and his sizable family have made a second home over the course of five-plus years. He also had to know that his compatibility with Sidney Crosby made his recent level of offense unsustainable on any other team in the NHL.
Dupuis could’ve gotten more than $4 million per year elsewhere, but apparently his unique fit in Pittsburgh convinced him to accept a contract below market value. Now the Penguins have a little more than $4 million left under the 2013-14 salary cap, with longtime team members Matt Cooke and Craig Adams still unsigned, although negotiations are ongoing according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi.
Fellow forwards Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow, plus defensemen Douglas Murray and Mark Eaton are all scheduled to become free agents Friday. Depth forward Dustin Jeffrey and rookie defender Robert Bortuzzo, both restricted free agents, have been made offers to stay with the Penguins.