Aug 21, 2014, 10:01 AM EST
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.
Feb 28, 2015, 12:27 PM EST
Both are unrestricted free agents after this season.
Feb 28, 2015, 12:00 PM EST
He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:15 AM EST
Was acquired Thursday from Toronto.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:30 AM EST
Ottawa’s GM confirms he had talks with Toronto.
Feb 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EST
New York has won four straight overall coming in.
Feb 28, 2015, 1:02 AM EST
L.A. played the night before.
Feb 28, 2015, 12:07 AM EST
Lost to Carolina on Friday.
Feb 27, 2015, 11:17 PM EST
He was traded from Philadelphia to Chicago on Friday.
Feb 27, 2015, 10:34 PM EST
Meanwhile, Calgary’s playoff hopes take another hit.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:56 PM EST
Important win for Boston.
Feb 27, 2015, 9:37 PM EST
Feb 27, 2015, 9:19 PM EST
Should be interesting.
Feb 27, 2015, 8:31 PM EST
Another day, another trade.
Feb 27, 2015, 8:25 PM EST
Pascal Dupuis recently opened up about his condition.
Feb 27, 2015, 7:30 PM EST
The Habs host the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Feb 27, 2015, 6:37 PM EST
That’s according to multiple reports.
Feb 27, 2015, 6:28 PM EST
Trade deadline is Monday, by the way.
Feb 27, 2015, 5:25 PM EST
Was aiming to play Saturday versus the Rangers.
Feb 27, 2015, 4:34 PM EST
GM Doug Wilson has some decisions to make…
Feb 27, 2015, 3:17 PM EST
So says NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
- NHL on NBC: Rangers look for a fourth straight win against the Flyers 4
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 6
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 10
- Breaking: Flyers trade Kimmo Timonen to Blackhawks 25
- Video: Couture fined $5K for slew-footing Smith 22
- Time to start winning — Bruins’ next four games are against non-playoff teams 17
- Burgled: Sens’ Hammond shuts out Kings 14
- Wild get important win vs. Preds (and some luck, too) 41
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs 66
- Panthers acquire Jagr from Devils 29
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- ‘I don’t know why we’re so comfortable,’ says Toews after loss to Avalanche (69)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)
- Lindros files $3M defamation lawsuit against ex-referee Stewart (Updated: Now $250K) (65)