Pending UFA Dupuis ‘absolutely’ wants to re-up with Pittsburgh

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If Pascal Dupuis has it his way, he’ll be sticking with the Penguins.

That’s the word out of Pittsburgh, anyway, as the veteran winger — who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer — recently spoke with the Tribune-Review about his future.

“Yes,” Dupuis responded when asked if he wanted to re-sign. “That is absolutely what I want.”

Dupuis will be an interesting case to follow. Despite the fact he turns 34 next month and is closing in on 800 career games, the case could be made that he’s getting better with age.

Dupuis posted a career-high 25 goals last year (the most he scored since he was 23), has developed chemistry with Pens captain Sidney Crosby and is averaging over 17 minutes this season — 2:17 of that shorthanded — while sitting tied for third on the team in goals, with seven.

Based on that resume, it’s hard to imagine Pittsburgh wouldn’t want him back.

And considering Dupuis’ already made his intentions known, the discussion will likely turn to dollars and term.

He’s in the final season of a two-year, $3 million deal, one of the league’s better bargains considering his production.

The problem, of course, is that Pittsburgh’s projected cap payroll is at $53 million next year (with the cap ceiling at $64.3) — leaving about $10 million in spending money.

GM Ray Shero has decisions to make on other UFAs as well (Matt Cooke, Craig Adams, Mark Eaton) and a quartet of RFAs (Tyler Kennedy, Zach Boychuk, Dustin Jeffrey, Robert Bortuzzo).

Dupuis’ agent, Allan Walsh, said he isn’t looking to start negotiations with Shero now, but did note that he and Dupuis would be open to listening if Pittsburgh had anything to offer.

Shero admitted he admires what Dupuis brings as a player.

“He’s in great shape,” Shero told the Tribune-Review. “He can really shoot the puck. He’s solid defensively. There’s a lot of trust to his game, from his linemates to the coaching staff.

“He’s certainly matured as a player.”