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.
Apr 1, 2015, 1:41 AM EDT
Could the Vancouver forward be facing further discipline from the league?
Apr 1, 2015, 1:17 AM EDT
Tampa Bay is in a battle for the Atlantic Division.
Apr 1, 2015, 12:40 AM EDT
No call on that play.
Apr 1, 2015, 12:04 AM EDT
That’s big for Ottawa.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:31 PM EDT
This was an eventful game.
Mar 31, 2015, 10:57 PM EDT
Could supplemental discipline be on the way?
Mar 31, 2015, 10:09 PM EDT
Florida had the lead in the third period.
Mar 31, 2015, 9:38 PM EDT
Could Vancouver’s veteran defenseman be looking at a suspension?
Mar 31, 2015, 8:58 PM EDT
Scored 32 goals in 37 games this season.
Mar 31, 2015, 8:13 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT
Joins Bossy, Gretzky, Dionne, Lafleur and Lemieux.
Mar 31, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
3rd-round pick if it happens after the season, 2nd-rounder if it happens in-season.
Mar 31, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT
University of Minnesota blueliner inching closer to free agency.
Mar 31, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT
So the Hart will not, as some have suggested, become the Gretzky.
Mar 31, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
Blackhawks duo “had a good thing going.”
Mar 31, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT
Not just a team that scores a lot of goals.
Mar 31, 2015, 3:38 PM EDT
Could really use a win tonight versus the Rangers.
Mar 31, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
“I can speak from experience that home ice matters.”
Mar 31, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT
News and notes from around the crease…
Mar 31, 2015, 1:59 PM EDT
Florida’s season is essentially on the line.
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- Video: Byfuglien gets away with ugly cross check, penalized late in Jets loss to Rangers 22
- Video: Lucic scores late winner, Bruins deal crushing blow to Panthers playoff hopes 7
- Video: Ovi becomes sixth player in history to record six 50-goal seasons 13
- ‘Almost like a game seven tonight’ for Bruins, Panthers 15
- Report: Warrant issued for Deveaux’s arrest following Swedish league attack 47
- How bad are things for the Kings after Monday? 21
- Lightning clinch playoff berth, but did they lose Hedman? 9
- Blackhawks tease good injury news for Kane 8
- Tough times in Tampa: Garrison out 3-4 weeks after ‘pretty dirty’ Abdelkader hit 22