26-Year-Old Defenseman – Free Agent
Simon Despres Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $18.5 million contract with the Ducks in October 2015.
Despres (head) was waived by the Ducks on Friday, Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reports. If the defenseman goes unclaimed, he'll be bought out of his remaining four-year contract.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Simon Despres.
Traded by the Penguins to the Ducks in March, Despres fit in well in Anaheim, notching six points in 16 regular-season games, before adding seven points in 16 playoff contests. The 24-year-old is part of a very mobile young defense corps that also includes Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, and the newly acquired Kevin Bieksa. Despres has only played 160 career NHL games, but is already on his way in developing into a solid-two-way defenseman. Despres dished out an outstanding 233 hits last season -- second among all NHL defenseman. The 6-foot-4, 214-pound blueliner is capable of stepping up into the rush, and could hit the 30-point barrier in 2015-16. Despres likely won’t see much power-play time, but with the team adding to their strong offense in the offseason with the acquistions of Carl Hagelin and Chris Stewart, it shouldn’t be hard for him to pile up some points at even strength alongside his talented mates.
In three seasons shuttling between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre, Despres has compiled three goals and 16 points in 85 games. He appeared to frustrate the old regime more than anything else, being promoted and demoted on a weekly basis. The jury is out on the 6-foot-4 blueliner; he has yet to receive regular shifts. In parts of 34 games with the Pens, Despres averaged only 16:44 TOI yet accumulated 72 hits and 46 blocked shots. He picked up only five assists and saw minimal power-play action (0:45 TOI per game). Given the fact that he scored six goals and 23 points in 36 AHL contests, there remains potential for offensive production at the NHL level.
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.