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.
Dec 20, 2014, 12:09 AM EST
They label Jimmy Howard as day-to-day.
Dec 19, 2014, 11:32 PM EST
They fell to Winnipeg 2-1 on Friday.
Dec 19, 2014, 10:31 PM EST
Then again, maybe the Ryan – Zibanejad – Hoffman line was just that good.
Dec 19, 2014, 10:01 PM EST
A beauty in regulation and in the shootout.
Dec 19, 2014, 9:51 PM EST
Sven Andrighetto is back up while Eric Tangradi heads to the AHL.
Dec 19, 2014, 8:48 PM EST
They’re playing safe for “precautionary” reasons.
Dec 19, 2014, 7:43 PM EST
It’s been 2,599 days since that last happened.
Dec 19, 2014, 6:47 PM EST
Let’s hope it’s just that type of illness …
Dec 19, 2014, 6:40 PM EST
It’s almost starting to feel like he has mutant powers.
Dec 19, 2014, 6:28 PM EST
They recalled Alexander Wennberg and Cody Goloubef.
Dec 19, 2014, 5:07 PM EST
Is under going an MRI today.
Dec 19, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
“As a family, we are thrilled that Dad’s quality of life has greatly improved, and his progress has exceeded our greatest expectations.”
Dec 19, 2014, 4:34 PM EST
Bring on the trade speculation.
Dec 19, 2014, 4:10 PM EST
32-year-old has played in 56 career NHL contests.
Dec 19, 2014, 3:37 PM EST
“Where’s the Tylenol?”
Dec 19, 2014, 3:21 PM EST
Off to the Marlies he goes.
Dec 19, 2014, 3:03 PM EST
Jeff Schultz has been called up from AHL Manchester.
Dec 19, 2014, 2:54 PM EST
“This is a great honor and opportunity for Mirco to represent his country,”
Dec 19, 2014, 2:31 PM EST
That said, might he make sense for the Bruins?
Dec 19, 2014, 2:12 PM EST
Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 2 returns for another year.
- Julien chides Bruins’ offense for too many cute plays 1
- Sens roll over Ducks, who ‘weren’t ready’ 4
- Flyers’ Mason tweaked back, will miss weekend games 10
- Gordie Howe makes ‘amazing’ recovery following stem cell treatment in Mexico 11
- Video: Penguins’ spoof of ‘Christmas Vacation’ is pretty good 14
- Mason hurt, helped off ice at end of Flyers practice 8
- Could Vermette land in Washington? 7
- Pens confirm Maatta has the mumps 5
- As holiday roster freeze approaches, Bruins linked to Oshie, Kassian 27
- Video: Pacioretty taken to hospital, reportedly no hearing expected for Stoner after questionable hit 35