Meet Simon Despres

With many critics calling the Penguins’ prospet pool depleted, it’s nice to see GM Ray Shero and company pick defenseman Simon Despres with the first pick in the 2009 National Hockey League Draft.

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If anything, defense has been the most depleted.  Many of the current defenseman on Pittsburgh’s roster are products of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton system.  Alex Goligoski’s signing means he will be on the main squad now too, leaving little top talent at the position in WBS.

Despres played in the QMJHL for the Saint John Sea Dogs.  He spent two years there, playing 130 regular season games and 14 playoff games.

He doesn’t appear to be the high-scoring defenseman that has come through the Penguins’ minor league affiliates in the last couple years.  He looks solid, though, and as he is about to turn 18 it’s apparent that he has a lot of time to improve.

                                            --- Regular Season ---  ---- Playoffs ----
Season   Team                        Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM  GP   G   A Pts PIM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2007-08  Saint John Sea Dogs         QMJHL  64    1   13   14   30  14   0   4   4  18
2008-09  Saint John Sea Dogs         QMJHL  66    2   30   32   74
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

30 assists is nice.  Real nice.  However, it doesn’t seem like he’s a guy that will play on the pp like Sergei Gonchar, Kris Letang or Alex Goligoski.

He’s kind of an unknown, at least to me.  Honestly, you’d have to closely follow these guys to know anything about any player outside of the first five picks.  Maybe like the fine people over at Faceoff-Factor.

Here’s what they have to say about Despres:

“Despres is hulking defenseman with good size and strength. He clears his own crease very well (an NHL goalie’s dream) and has taken a liking to sticking up for his teammates. The most underrated aspect of his game is his puck-moving ability, which has drastically improved over the years. He makes a very sound breakout pass. Despres went from 14 to 32 points between his last two campaigns with the St. John Sea Dogs. His nasty physical edge reminds some of Chris Pronger and is justified in that comparison by his 74 penalty minutes last season.”

And with this move, maybe he could step in and win a shootout or two down the road …

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