By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)
For a team that is already too top heavy, the enormity of the loss of the only winger who can credibly bridge the gap between top 6 and bottom 6 cannot be overstated. Forget that Pascal Dupuis' numbers are down this season from their historic heights last season -- that was to be expected. The guy is an absolute puck hound who capably and willingly can play in any situation. He may be slightly overpaid and slightly underperforming ... but that doesn't mean he isn't extremely valuable.
(Word is that Joe Vitale is going to get a look on the top line with Sid and Kunitz tonight. The guy has no hands (neither did Kunitz, at one point) but of all the options for tonight, he's not a bad pick. He's been creating more havoc in the offensive zone than just about anyone recently).
The only long-term benefit that can come from this is that it will force the Pens to give younger guys (like Beau Bennett and Jayson Megna) legitimate AND SUSTAINED opportunities to prove they can play with Malkin and Crosby. The short term downside, of course, is that they probably can't do what Dupuis does. The Pens were already in critical need of upgrading their depth up front, and now it's reached an emergency. Forget about team goals per game ... depth up front is about having 4 credible lines that can regularly share the burden of scoring. If the Pens score the most goals in the Eastern Conference by relying almost exclusively on 87 and 71, that's going to mean a #1 seed. But it's a recipe for disaster in a playoff series.
Whatever the Pens end up doing, here's hoping they do it soon. It's clear that the team needs help up front ... if Shero can identify and acquire his target with half a season left, that's much preferred over expecting a high profile deadline acquisition to fit in under Bylsma's notoriously hard-to-adjust-to system with only 15 games to go in the season.
Pas-QUALE. You will be missed.