How Will Pittsburgh Penguins Adjust To Loss Of Pascal Dupuis?


Nov 14, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis (9) heads up ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Pittsburgh defeated Toronto 2-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed one of their smoothest wins of the season Tuesday night in Montreal, drubbing the Canadiens 4-0 to improve to 13-3-1.

They did this without the services of Pascal Dupuis, who was getting examined by a doctor to determine the source of his sudden chest pain. His fears were realized with a blood clot diagnosis that will keep him out of action for at least six months.

In the meantime, Dupuis’ career is in limbo as he waits to discover what has caused his body to generate two significant blood clots in the past calendar year.

On Thursday, the Penguins publicly spoke about giving Dupuis some sort of an advisory role in the hockey operations department as he recuperates. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Jenn Menendez:

Still, no matter how much the Pens involve Dupuis in their day-to-day activities, they will be lesser for his on-ice absence. How many NHL players can skate on any forward line and be effective in all situations, including penalty kill and power play?

Not many.

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For that reason, it’s not easy to determine exactly what the Penguins will need to do to make up for Dupuis’ departure from the active roster.

It appears they will stick with Tuesday’s lineup – featuring Blake Comeau in Dupuis’ spot on Sidney Crosby‘s line – for the time being, but we shouldn’t expect that configuration to work for very long, the win over Montreal notwithstanding.

Pittsburgh was already thin in the forward department, and that’s not changing with Comeau and Nick Spaling projected to be in the top six for Friday’s matchup against the Islanders. Perhaps Beau Bennett could be elevated from the third line at some point, but that’s essentially the extent of the Pens’ internal options at this point.

General manager Jim Rutherford has repeatedly said that he would give the team a couple of months before looking to make any changes via trade. But if his initial timetable had him searching for help during the Christmas season, maybe the Dupuis diagnosis has accelerated that process.

As a result, Rutherford may be getting a jump on his Black Friday shopping as we speak. It’s no secret the Penguins have great defensive depth in their organization, thanks to the drafting habits of former Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero.

If Rutherford is able to turn a couple of those prospects into immediate NHL assistance, he’ll have his predecessor to thank for the trade chips.