He was that throw-in in the Marian Hossa trade, remember?
Not necessarily an afterthought, maybe, but not a whole lot more, either. Just another standard-issue, blue-collar forward who could be counted on to be responsible in his own end and do some decent penalty-killing and not much else.
Many suspected his greatest impact on the franchise might be as the answer to a trivia question about the other player the Penguins got when they sent three players and a No. 1 draft choice to Atlanta in 2008.
And, to be fair, Pascal Dupuis has, in his five-plus years here, done what was expected of him. Well, except for the trivia question part. Of course, he also has done a whole lot more.
Like earning steady work alongside Sidney Crosby on the Penguins' No. 1 line. And stringing together a league-best 17-game scoring streak at the end of the 2011-12 regular season. And leading the NHL in goals with six in the Penguins' first seven games in these playoffs before the Chicago-Detroit game Wednesday night.
Not bad for someone who, when he arrived in town, might well have been advised to rent, not buy.
As it is, Dupuis is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer and, while he has been adamant about wanting to re-sign with the Penguins, if he puts himself on the open market in July, he can expect to receive offers that could provide financial security for many generations of Dupuises.
Wasn't always that way. There was a time, not so long ago, when neither his profile nor the general public's appreciation for his game was particularly high.
"He's been a guy who, for a long time, has been [widely viewed as] the winger we need to replace on [Crosby's] line," coach Dan Bylsma said.
Actually, Bylsma replaced Dupuis there a few games ago, sort of. He moved Dupuis from the right side, where he has spent most of the past few seasons, to the left to clear a spot for Jarome Iginla.
There's much more to that kind of switch than simply skating up and down the opposite side of the rink, although Bylsma clearly had no major concerns about how Dupuis would adapt to the change.
"Everybody keeps telling me I can play everywhere," Dupuis said before the Penguins' 4-1 victory against Ottawa in Game 1 Tuesday of their second-round playoff series. "But I still need [to make] a little adjustment."
Dupuis appears to be getting acclimated, though, and his short-handed goal in the third period of Game 1 sealed the Penguins victory. It also padded his total for the kind of goals in which he specializes: The ones scored when the Penguins aren't on a power play.
Consider that Dupuis tied for 13th in the league in the regular season by scoring 20 goals, but got 17 of those at even-strength to tie the New York Rangers' Rick Nash and Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler for the sixth-most in the NHL.
Those 17 exceeded the even-strength total produced by Washington's Alex Ovechkin, Chicago's Patrick Kane, Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis and Toronto's Phil Kessel, among others. Including every one of Dupuis' teammates.
"He's been one of the best even-strength goal-scorers in the league for quite some time now," Bylsma said.
Fact is, only 20 of Dupuis' 175 career regular-season goals have come on power plays. He nearly has as many goals when his team is short-handed (15) as he does when it has an extra man.
That's not because Dupuis loses his touch when his club gets a man-advantage. More because he rarely is more than an interested onlooker in such situations.
No fewer than 13 teammates -- 14, if defenseman Dylan Reese, who played in three Penguins games this season, is included -- averaged more than the 48 seconds of power-play time Dupuis got in a typical regular-season game. And those 48 seconds are 48 more than he has averaged through the first seven games of the playoffs.
No, that's not a misprint.
The Penguins have dressed 23 forwards and defensemen so far this spring. Twenty-two of them have gotten at least occasional sniffs of power-play duty. Everyone except Dupuis.
Official league statistics say he has been on the ice for one second of a single man-advantage and lists his average power-play ice time per game as zero, putting him well behind the likes of Deryk Engelland (43 seconds per game), Brooks Orpik (21) and Douglas Murray (12).
If the trend persists -- and there's little to suggest it won't -- it will be tough for Dupuis to get any man-advantage goals. Even so, he's scoring enough of the other kinds that he's starting to be appreciated in areas far removed from this area code.
"He's getting a little bit of notoriety right now," Bylsma said. "But he's been that quality of player for our team for a long time."
Since back in the days when he proved his versatility by being both a throw-in and an afterthought.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG. First Published May 16, 2013 5:00 AM