Do All The Changes Up Top Give Simon Despres A Second Chance?

Friday, June 6, 2014
My favorite picture I have taken of Despres this season.
By now, I'm sure most of you have heard that former Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford has been named the Pittsburgh Penguins new GM. Jason Botterill stays with the organization and is now an Associate General Manager. Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald have been named assistant GM's.

Also, head coach Dan Bylsma is head coach no longer. Bylsma has been relieved of his coaching duties with the Penguins today too.

With all the changes in management and staff today, does a guy like Simon Despres get a second chance in the organization?

It was widely reported that the NHL coaching staff didn't like Despres' attitude and wanted him gone, but with a new GM and coaching staff in the mix will we see Despres re-born and given another chance?

Despres is a restricted free agent whose cap hit last season was $840,000. The Penguins must tender Despres a qualifying offer of 105% of his salary in order to retain his services for next season. Will the Penguins let Despres walk instead of tendering him the necessary $882,000? Highly unlikely.

The Pens would be foolish to let Despres go for nothing. If anything they will tender his qualifying offer and look for a trading partner to get something of value for him. After all, he will be turning 23 this summer and still has plenty of upside. It's not often you see a 6-foot-4 defenseman who can skate well, move the puck up ice and play in all three zones.

Despres excelled in his AHL playing time this season, recording 22 points (6G-16A) in 36 regular season games, while adding nine points (2G-7A) in 17 Calder Cup Playoff games. I'll be posting a full report of all the AHL Penguins players and how they performed in the near future, but here's a look at Despres' postseason performance.

Simon Despres - Grade B+
Playoff Stats: 17GP, 2G-7A, +5, 32 PIM

Despres played well for the most part in the postseason. He scored a double overtime again in this year's Calder Cup Playoffs (he had a 2OT goal against St. John's in 2012 Playoffs) and logged big minutes on the top pairing for the Penguins. It's apparent he's too good to be playing in the AHL. He excels in late game situations, and yes there's still the occasional turnover or bad pinch, but it's not often you find a big defenseman who can skate well for his size, move the puck well and be able to be used in all facets of the game. Maybe the Pens trade him this offseason, but they'd be foolish to not re-sign him this summer and go from there.


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