Name: Pascal Dupuis
Status: Unrestricted free agent beginning July 5
Expiring Contract: Three years, $1.4 million cap hit
The Scoop: Dupuis has gone from trade throw-in in 2008 to one of the top potential free agents in 2013. It’s an amazing story for the 34-year old. In the last two years, Dupuis has totaled 45 goals and 97 points, despite spending significant time without Sidney Crosby, the player many believed fueled Dupuis’ success. Dupuis, according to various sources, is seeking a three or four year contract with a considerable raise over his current $1.5 million salary.

Matt Paul: Josh, it’s amazing how valuable Dupuis has become, not just with regard to his impressive stats, but because of his defensive prowess, penalty killing skills, and locker room leadership. He’s also become quite the popular player in Pittsburgh — though that’s no reason to retain him.

It’s difficult to speculate how much a player in his situation might make on a new contract, given his career years have come at such an “old” age. That said, I think retaining him could come down to general manager Ray Shero breaking his rules a bit. He might have to give him more term or more money than he’d like. Do you think that can happen, given the Penguins’ cap situation?

Joshua Neal: Unfortunately, I don’t think so. In having signed Malkin to the 9.5 AAV contract that the Penguins announced on Thursday, it essentially leaves the Penguins with just short of $8 million to sign what I’m counting as 6 roster players.

Dupuis’ value lies in his versatility, as you’ve mentioned. He kills penalties and is a great player at even strength – an ideal partner for Sidney Crosby in that capacity. And his success will hurt the Penguins in the bargaining market – because there are teams that would pay Dupuis the kind of contract that Chris Kunitz has ($3.725 million) or more to get his services, even at this point in his career.

If Dupuis stays, I think it will be his decision to take less with the Penguins. It’s hard to expect or predict that, but that’s how I see it. Matt, do you agree?

Matt: One thing we need to remember is that Malkin’s new contract won’t kick in until 2013-14, so his cap hit will remain at $8.7 for next season. Still, they have just $7.877 million to sign roughly six players, as you said, making this a tough off-season for Shero, given that he has Dupuis, Iginla, Morrow, Murray, and other quality free agents to choose from.

I agree, that it’s diffcult to predict what is to come, but I think one thing in the Penguins’ favor is Dupuis’ ties to the community. A self-professed family man, Dupuis’ kids attend school in Pittsburgh and a move would be uprooting his family. I think Shero and the Penguins might be willing to offer Dupuis an uncharacteristic four-year contract if he’s willing to play for less than $3 million per season — say $2.75, for example.

Josh: I think that manipulating the term is the only way to get it to a manageable deal when considering the cap. I like Dupuis a lot, but I see his name as being someone that’s a bit more replaceable than some others on that list. I think the Pens’ offer comes in somewhere around $2.5/2.75 AAV, and then it will be up to Dupuis.

Predictions:
Matt: Dupuis re-signs with the Penguins
Josh: Dupuis re-signs with Penguins, despite receiving other offers of up to $4 million AAV.