DUPONT'S RETURN A TRIUMPHANT ONE FOR WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON
There is no place like home for Micki DuPont.
|Micki DuPont Pittsburgh Penguins|
The Pittsburgh Penguins prospect was one of the most-prolific defensemen in the American Hockey League this season as he finished with 51 points (18+33) in 78 games. He led all AHL defensemen in goals and ranked second in points. The output resulted in AHL first team all-star honors for the 27-year-old.
“You look at his season – he truly played a great two-way game offensively, leadership-wise and logging a lot of minutes in every situation,” said Penguins Assistant General Manager Chuck Fletcher, who oversees Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. “I would certainly argue he was our team MVP this season down there. I thought Micki really established himself in North America. He is another player right now who is knocking on the door of the NHL.”
After playing three AHL seasons in Calgary’s system and 18 NHL games in two stints with the Flames, the 5-foot-10, 186-pound blueliner was sent to the Penguins with Mathias Johansson for Shean Donovan on March 11, 2003. DuPont was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and finished out the 2002-03 season there.
He headed overseas for the next three seasons to Berlin of the German Elite League. He tallied 32 goals and 97 points in 148 games over those three campaigns for the Polar Bears, leading all team defensemen in scoring. In addition, he led Berlin to back-to-back league championships.
|Micki DuPont played 14 games in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2003|
However, DuPont returned to North America this season and dominated at the AHL level.
“When you’re in the German Elite League, you’re truly out of sight and out of mind. It’s a great league to play in and there are a lot of great professional players there and you can make a good salary, but NHL scouts, in general, just do not see those players night in and night out,” Fletcher said. “As a result, you’re sort of out of sight and out of mind. I think coming back to the AHL, you’re scouted every night by your parent club and by other clubs in the NHL. Certainly, his exposure was much greater this season. In the AHL, he played in a league that is much more similar to the NHL with the physical play and tough travel. I think it was great for Micki to come back and I think his career is poised to take another jump next year.”
DuPont got better as the season progressed. Once it became clear Alain Nasreddine would remain on Pittsburgh’s roster, DuPont was named the 11th captain in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton history. He led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs with 11 points (5+6) in 10 postseason games.
“When you look at his season, I would say there was an adjustment period in the first couple months as he got used to the different style of play, different ice surfaces, tougher travel and more-competitive physical situations on the ice,” Fletcher said. “Once he got adjusted, the second half of the season he was dynamic and clearly our best player.”