Published on January 6th, 2013 | by James Conley0
Penguins 2013 Season Preview Part III: Dupuis, Glass, Kennedy
Four months between season preview posts? Sure. Not much else makes sense about the NHL so let’s dive in.
The Penguins’ top-four forwards are set. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will center the top two lines with Chris Kunitz and James Neal floating somewhere between them. What is not yet known is who will be used to fill out the always-important top-six.
Though they may not be ideal, Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis have stepped admirably into top-six roles before. While other options remain in the forms of Eric Tangradi, Dustin Jeffrey and perhaps even Matt Cooke or Beau Bennett, it’s going to take a mighty impressive showing in the truncated training camps for someone else to inject themselves into a top-six role.
Tanner Glass is one of the few free agent acquisitions from last summer who was signed with an NHL role in mind. He’ll be replacing Arron Asham’s minutes as bottom-six muscle, but brings shot-blocking and hitting acumen that Asham did not possess.
The Penguins forwards are a group in flux. It’ll be interesting to see how the lines shake out in the shortened season.
Pascal Dupuis, RW
2011: 82 GP // 25 G // 34 A // plus-18 // 34 PIM // 111 Hits // 3 SHG // 25 TkA // 8 GWG // 214 SOG // .72 PPG
Has there been a more underrated member of this team for the last three seasons?
Dupuis came to the Penguins as a throw-in to the Marian Hossa trade in 2008 and has spent his four-plus seasons in Pittsburgh quietly improving in Bylsma’s favorable north-south systems. In those years, Dupuis has posted 174 points, reaching career-highs last season in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and plus-minus.
Those numbers came as Dupuis bounced around the line-up as injuries forced ever-changing line combinations. Dupuis spent regular time as Crosby’s winger in the years before Crosby’s head injuries, but has been a roster journeyman since. That didn’t stop him from enjoying his best offensive season as a professional in 2011-12.
Dupuis has just this upcoming season remaining on his current contract, after which he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at 34. Contract years are always vital, and it’s unlikely the family-oriented Dupuis will seek to pull up and move on to another club this summer.
If he gets time with Crosby, as he should, he ought to be able to pick up his pace from last season.
Tyler Kennedy, RW
2011: 60 GP // 11 G // 22 A // plus-10 // 29 PIM // 70 Hits // 19 TkA // 10 BkS // 1 GWG // 195 SOG // .55 PPG
Coming off an summer in which Kennedy received a two-year extension with some of the money that Jaromir Jagr was deemed “too risky” to receive, Kennedy won zero favor with Penguins fans.
A concussion and other mild injuries derailed parts of his 2011-12 year, and Kennedy finished with just 11 goals a season after becoming the second-half savior when Crosby and Malkin were both gone due to injury.
Kennedy is now in the last year of his contract and, like Dupuis, will be looking to capitalize on it.
There’s room for Kennedy to move around. His former mainstay, Jordan Staal, is now with the Hurricanes. Kennedy spent parts of last season on a line with Crosby and Matt Cooke, though that combination can’t be long for the world. However, unless Jeffrey or Tangradi manage to establish themselves in camp, Kennedy’s a good bet for top-six duty.
At least for a time.
Tanner Glass, LW
2011: 78 GP // 5 G // 11 A // minus-12 // 73 PIM // 246 Hits // 51 BkS // 9 TkA // 1 GWG // 86 SOG // .21 PPG
Not quite sure what to expect from Glass, who spent last season with the Winnipeg Jets.
Glass is a big body (6’1″, 210) and has little problem throwing his weight around. His 246 hits last season were the 10th-most in the NHL and would have led all Penguins skaters. He also has a bit more scoring potential than Asham, and may get a chance to put it on display in Pittsburgh.
Glass spent part of the lockout playing in Slovakia. Expect the usual new-team transitional issues until he becomes accustomed to Bylsma’s offense. It will be worth watching to see if the move to Pittsburgh can help him improve his offense as it has helped other free agent acquisitions.