Penguins rally around Pascal Dupuis, but still eyeing trade for winger

The Pittsburgh Penguins, as we reported earlier this season, already had planned to target a top-six winger by the March 2 trade deadline. With the unfortunate news that winger Pascal Dupuis is going to be out six months after doctors discovered a blood clot in his lungs, that plan is more important than ever.

But for now, rallying around Dupuis takes precedence.

"My priority right now is to make sure Pascal is all right," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford told ESPN.com Thursday. "I can’t do anything about his health, but I want to keep him involved with the team. We don’t want to treat him like an injured player, where injured players don’t feel part of it. I want him to be part of it, he’s very important to our team on and off the ice. We can’t put him on the ice but he can be part of it off the ice."

But yes, given the cap space that has opened up with the loss of Dupuis ($3.75 million cap hit), Rutherford will eventually see what’s out there.

"We’ll start the search . . . we’ll do what we’ve always done, gather names and scout players, and if and when a deal comes along, then we’ll make it," Rutherford said.

"The key, though, is that Pascal is the priority right now."

What the Penguins have to offer in any possible trade for a top-six winger lies in the number of young defensemen they have in the AHL. Some of them should be on NHL rosters already. That’s the carrot for other teams.