Aug 21, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT
By now, you may know all about Simon Despres. The smooth-skating defenseman has gotten a more than a few looks the past three seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but now he’s at a bit of a crossroads.
As opposed to other players we’ve featured in our series, Despres is in a tricky position when it comes to making the leap. Instead of trying to blast his way out of junior or college hockey, he’s trying to make his way out of the American Hockey League.
The 23-year-old came in highly-touted when he was taken in the first-round, 30th overall in 2009 out of Saint John. He put up strong numbers for the Sea Dogs and turned pro in 2011. Since then, it’s been a bumpy ride that’s seen him get acclimated to taking the bus between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Pittsburgh.
One of the highlights to his game coming out of juniors was his offensive play. In four seasons he had 134 points in 240 games (0.55 points per-game). Since turning pro, that part of his game has all but disappeared.
In 85 games with Pittsburgh, he has 16 points (0.18 PPG) and in the AHL he had 45 points in 107 games (0.42 PPG). On the bright side, his possession numbers during his time in Pittsburgh have been very strong, especially the past two seasons. On the other hand, he could never find a way to impress Dan Bylsma enough to stick around full-time.
Perhaps fortunately for Despres, Bylsma is gone and Mike Johnston is in. With Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik now in Washington, the Penguins are going to have one hole to fill on the blue line. Christian Ehrhoff should take over where Niskanen left off, but with puck possession becoming a more vital part to playing defense, the opportunity for Despres to make a good impression is there for the taking.
The problem he’s going to face in training camp, however, will come from other young defenseman itchy to make it to Pittsburgh themselves. Olli Maatta showed last season that age is but a number and solid play will help you stick around. It’s that example Scott Harrington, Brian Dumoulin, Derrick Pouliot, and Philip Samuelsson will be looking to follow.
With hefty competition amongst young defenseman and many others likely holding spots down already (Ehrhoff, Maatta, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi), the Pens blue line will be more than worth watching in training camp.
Perhaps fortunately for Despres, everyone will start with a clean slate for the new coach.
May 27, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT
Almost completely shut the door through two periods.
May 27, 2015, 12:09 AM EDT
Game 7. Friday in New York.
May 26, 2015, 11:34 PM EDT
“Boy, that escalated quickly…”
May 26, 2015, 11:03 PM EDT
Ben Bishop pulled in the third period.
May 26, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT
Timonen is averaging under 10 minutes of ice time per game in playoffs.
May 26, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
Hadn’t scored since April 4.
May 26, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT
New York scored to make it 2-0 soon after that.
May 26, 2015, 8:52 PM EDT
New York needs the win to force Game 7.
May 26, 2015, 8:13 PM EDT
“We’ve had a lot of informal discussions with people about this, but us or the city have yet to be presented with any kind of offer.”
May 26, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT
New York facing elimination, yet again.
May 26, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT
“I’ve had some people reach out to me,” the Red Wings GM said.
May 26, 2015, 5:24 PM EDT
Meanwhile, GM Doug Armstrong says, “Show me a well-liked coach, and I’ll show you a losing coach.”
May 26, 2015, 4:57 PM EDT
But let’s not call it the end of an era.
May 26, 2015, 4:31 PM EDT
Michael Russo of the StarTribune being the reporter.
May 26, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
“The Flyers have never intentionally tried to lose. That would put a foul taste in my mouth. “
May 26, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT
“Does he ride guys hard and has he been on my case at times, where it’s made me angry? Yes. But he does it in the light of trying to make our team better, trying to make each individual player better.”
May 26, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT
Had a bad giveaway in Game 5, but those giveaways are going to happen occasionally.
May 26, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Could be held out of tonight’s potential series-clinching tilt.
May 26, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
But there’s nothing imminent, according to his agent.
May 26, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT
The 36-year-old played just 14:44 last night in Anaheim.
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