Penguins Notes: Letang, Orpik, Morrow, Dupuis, Pouliot

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We should hear more after Friday’s game-day skate about Pascal Dupuis’s injury situation. Dupuis apparently hurt his right knee Saturday after Ottawa defender, Marc Methot, checked Sidney Crosby with Dupuis serving as collateral damage in the aftermath.

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It’s remarkable Dupuis has missed only two games in the last five seasons. He has 87 goals (ahem, nice number), 192 points and a plus-76 rating in 331 games over that span.

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For as good as top-rated defensive prospect, Derrick Pouliot, looked for Team Canada in the World Juniors on Thursday, remember that Germany isn’t a powerhouse. Thursday’s announcers mentioned that handball is as big a sport in Deutschland as hockey. Still, it’s encouraging Pouliot is off to a good start. In competitions I’ve seen from him, he’s looked weak in his own end.

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What if? What if the Penguins traded both Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik at or around the trade deadline? What could the return include? First off, the Pens are dealing from a position of power. If they don’t send Letang and/or Orpik packing, no one will be surprised. Letang’s long extension kicks in next year. He’ll provide Pittsburgh with a list of teams he cannot be dealt to. Orpik is in the last year of a $3.75 million AAV contract.

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Letang still has strong trade value despite a poor playoffs showing and a slow, injury-plagued start to 2013-14. Most likely, he’ll have to first prove he’s firing on all eight cylinders before the Pens can sell at full value. Orpik, with his experience, can truly benefit a young team looking for leaders. At 33 and months away from unrestricted free agency, his value isn’t quite so high. Plus, he’ll also have to prove himself after getting knocked unconscious thanks to Shawn Thornton’s assault.

If the Pens believe the modified defensive structure insulates young blueliners, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see a deal with Letang and/or Orpik. Just remember that in the postseason, experience can’t be underrated.

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Let’s say the organization feels confident in the rest of its defense to make a deal or two.

What do the Pens need?

An influx of young forward talent would be nice, but how much would that help in the playoffs? Johnny Gaudreau of the Flames would be a nice long-term pickup, but GM Ray Shero no doubt would be looking for game-ready forwards.

Dallas is always a place to look. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Valerie Nichushkin have the makings of a stud line for a long time. But the Stars also have some other talented forwards. Alex Chiasson is a goal-scoring winger in his first full year with the Stars. Radek Faksa is another good, young forward in the OHL.

Eight NHL teams have at least $10 million under the deadline cap, including Nashville — Ray Shero’s old stomping grounds, Buffalo — Matt Moulson would look nice in a Pittsburgh sweater, Edmonton — all of their young stars have long-term deals except for Nail Yakopov, Ottawa, Calgary — lots of options there, Islanders, Colorado and Florida — they haven’t helped the Pens out much in their annual garage sales.

The Penguins are in a conundrum. The sooner they deal, the better. But at the same time, they’ve got to establish the health of Letang and Orpik. We’ve seen seller markets the last several years and that doesn’t look to change in 2013-14.

Fortunately in the West, where the Pens are more likely to deal anyhow, there is a separation between the top 10 teams and the bottom four (Winnipeg, Nashville, Calgary, Edmonton). Two seasons ago, there were really only two teams in seller mode at the deadline.

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Since Logan Couture claimed Marc-Andre Fleury looked “shaky” nine games ago, the San Jose centerman hasn’t scored a goal.

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Former Penguins prospect, Joe Morrow, has three goals and 19 points in 28 games for AHL Providence. Split between the Baby Pens and the Texas Stars, the defender compiled 19 points in 66 AHL contests. Looks like the 21-year-old isn’t far away from making his NHL debut. Whether that’s with a stacked Boston blue line or somewhere else remains to be seen.

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Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette posted his annual Top 10 Penguins prospects list. Click here.

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer
@PiratesTalk

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