23-Year-Old Defenseman – Pittsburgh Penguins
Simon Despres Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $1.8 million deal with the Penguins in July 2014.
Despres currently slots into Pittsburgh's defensive unit as part of a third pairing with Rob Scuderi.
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Simon Despres: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Despres continues to slowly gain coach Dan Bylsma's trust, seeing action in 33 games last year after playing 18 times in 2011-12. Bylsma has yet to award the first-round draft pick with consistent shifts, however -- he averaged just over 15 minutes of action (15:06 TOI) when he did play. That could change in the coming season. Despres moves the puck well with above average vision and has an offensive flair. He compiled just seven points (2G, 5A) in 33 games with Pittsburgh, but the upside is there. He's worth a look as an end-game pick.
Because of his 18-game trial with the Pens last year, Despres is the odd-on favorite among Pittsburgh defensive prospects to make his mark in the coming season. The 6-foot-2 defenseman averaged better than a point-per-game in his final three QMJHL campaigns. With Wilkes-Barre, he scored only five goals and 15 points in 45 games during his first professional season, although he didn't look out of place on the Penguins' blue line, contributing with surprisingly solid defense and four points (1G, 3A). There's talk that he could see time with Kris Letang. If that happens then there's a chance that Despres could surprise to the upside right off the bat.
Despres tops the list of Pens' prospects ready to make the jump to CONSOL Energy Center at some point in 2011-12. The team boasts seven competent defenders ahead of him, but rarely does a defensive corps stay healthy throughout the course of a season. For his part, Despres helped the St. John Sea Dogs to a Memorial Cup victory in the QMJHL. The 20-year-old blueliner netted 13 goals and picked up 41 points in 47 contests. Despres has increased his goals totals in each of his four junior seasons, posting marks of 1, 2, 9, and 13, respectively. He has good size at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, but isn't known as a physical player. From a fantasy perspective, defensemen typically take a couple years to make their presence felt. Moreover, Despres has yet to even see any time in the AHL. Still, the blueliner from Laval deserves consideration in keeper leagues and an early arrival in Pittsburgh could offer surprising results.
Pittsburgh's 2009 No. 1 pick, Despres made great strides in the QMJHL last season. Despres potted more goals (9) and more points (67) than he did in his previous two years, combined. The defenseman netted three goals and 43 points during his first two QMJHL campaigns. It's possible that Despres starts his professional career with the Baby Pens in the fall or even spends nine games with Pittsburgh at the start of the NHL season. Even so, he's probably a year or two away from making an impact at Consol Energy Center.
Despres will head back to his junior team in 2009-10. For a No. 1 pick, it's pretty amazing that the defenseman has just three goals in 130 QMJHL contests. It's unlikely he makes the Pens for at least a couple of seasons. He has the potential to serve as an assist distributer, but there's really no reason to pick him up, even in most keeper leagues.