Dupuis is no stranger to being dealt. Last season, he played for the Minnesota Wild, the New York Rangers and the Thrashers. After starting the season in Minnesota, Dupuis played just six games for the Rangers before being traded to Atlanta for prospect Alex Bourret.
“I just got to New York when I got traded to Atlanta, so the adjustment wasn’t too bad,” said Dupuis. “I had everything packed to move to New York. The only thing that was different was the weather in Atlanta. My family went back to our house in Montreal, that was the easiest part of it. I adapted to Atlanta well because (former coach) Bob Hartley was here and he’s French-Canadian as well, so he helped me with the transition.”
Now Dupuis is on the move again, where he will play for another French-Canadian coach, the Pens’ Michel Therrien.
The speedy Dupuis primarily is a defensive forward and penalty killer. Even though he had a minus-4 rating in 62 games with the Thrashers, he remains in the upper echelon of defensive forwards in the League. His plus-minus rating is deceptive because he is pitted against the opposition’s best forwards nightly and isn’t playing an offensive role for the Thrashers.
“My role on the team is killing penalties, playing against opponent’s top lines and I bring some speed to our game,” Dupuis said.
“He’s one of the fastest guys on our team,” interim coach and general manager Don Waddell said prior to dealing Dupuis. “When he uses his speed to his advantage, not only can he forecheck and create opportunities, but he is an effective backchecker. When a player has that kind of skill he can be a very effective. He’s been a good player for us.”
Dupuis honed his craft under the demanding hand of coach Jacques Lemaire in Minnesota.
“Jacques Lemaire is a really good defensive-minded coach,” Dupuis said. “If you can play for him (Lemaire) for six years, like I did, you learn a lot about defense. He taught me that it’s all about playing without the puck. It’s about having good positioning, getting your stick on the puck and having a quick stick all the time.”
Dupuis played with center Eric Perrin as half of the Atlanta’s top penalty-killing unit.
“Dupuis anticipates the play very well,” said Perrin, part of the reason the 28-year-old led the Thrashers with three shorthanded goals. “His anticipation makes playing with him easier because you know he’s going to read the play and be in the right place. With his speed it helps me to know that he’s going to beat someone to the puck. He has great hockey sense and he knows where the play is going to go. He also knows when to take a chance and when to be more alert defensively.”
Dupuis also is a fearless shot blocker; he had the second-most blocked shots among Atlanta forwards.
“I do my best to get in the shooting lane for blocking shots,” Dupuis said. “You have to be willing to pay the price.”
Now he’ll be paying that price in Pittsburgh.