Not getting to see Simon Despres play a preseason game this season was disappointing for some. The prospect that showed so much potential last season didn’t even make it through the first round of cuts this season. Despres, 20, posted impressive numbers last year playing for the St. John’s Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. It was his last season of eligibility in the junior league which meant that he was either headed to the AHL or the NHL. Ray Shero and the coaching staff didn’t waste much time deciding.
Despres set the bar high last year by dominating the preseason. His story line reads in much the same manner as Joe Morrow’s does. Both played outstanding hockey in their short time with the Pens but neither had a legitimate shot at making the team. Instead, it was more important to return to juniors and dominate an entire season at that level.
Now entering his first full professional year, many expected Despres to compete for an NHL gig. The bottom line is that there was just not a job available for the young defenseman. As I wrote when he was cut:
“The general consensus is that Despres–while extremely talented–will need at least one year in the AHL. With defensemen like Deryk Engelland, Matt Niskanen, and Alexandre Picard fighting for the sixth defensive spot, the Penguins can afford to let Despres mature in the minors. After his outstanding showing at camp last season though, he should have at least earned the opportunity to play one slightly meaningful game.”
Those who were disappointed quickly turned their attention to Morrow. Before forgetting about the Pens blue-chip prospect for another year though, take a look at this Fox Sports article outlining Despres’ accomplishments and fit within the organization. It should make you appreciate the stockpile of defensemen that Shero is building up.