Wednesday, September 29, 2010


The ‘Big Horse’ is making a big impression on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Simon Despres continues to keep himself in the conversation to make the NHL roster,” writes Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburg Post Gazette’s Penguins blog Empty Netters. “Coming into camp, there seemed to be an assumption that he would simply be returned to juniors while Lovejoy, Deryk Engelland, Corey Potter, Andrew Hutchinson and others would battle for the No. 6 and 7 spots. But thanks to a mostly unimpressive effort by those four and Despres' natural talent, he could very well be on the NHL roster come Oct. 7.”

Despres can play in a maximum of nine National Hockey League games in order to keep is junior eligibility. If he plays more than nine, he can't return to Saint John. Because he is only 19, the defenseman cannot play in the American Hockey League.

"We haven't ruled it out," general manager Ray Shero said to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about possibly keeping Despres to open the NHL season. "He's earned this second exhibition game. It wasn't something we had scheduled for him, but he's earned it. That's pretty good."

The Saint John Sea Dog saw just over 16 minutes of ice time in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 pre-season win over the Chicago Blackhawks last night. He was also a +1 in his second pre-season appearance of the year.

"There doesn't seem to be a lot of respect given to his opponents or his teammates, and I mean that in a good way," Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's ... not just handing the puck over to (Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin) like a young player might do."

Rob Rossi mentions in his article that Despres could be on the same track as Kris Letang back in 2006-07 when the former QMJHL star started the season with the Pens before returning to the Q and dominating.

Rossi added that “the Penguins have no control on how he is used by his QMJHL club. However, assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald will monitor his development and communicate with Saint John officials.”

The Pens play two more pre-season games – one in Chicago and one Detroit – before opening the regular season at home against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 7.

If Despres appears in the Penguins’ lineup for a regular season game, he will be the first Saint John Sea Dog to play in a NHL game.

Photo Credit: Empty Netters

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