Pens 09 1st rd pick D Simon Depres to make NHL debut tonight
Penguins Recall Defenseman Simon Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Defenseman Alexandre Picard Re-Assigned to WBS
Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 10:00 AM
The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled defenseman Simon Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, and re-assigned defenseman Alexandre Picard to WBS, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.
Despres, 20, has appeared in 22 games as a rookie this season for WBS, tallying three goals, four assists, seven points and a plus-3 rating. Despres leads WBS with three game-winning goals, while his seven points are tied for the team lead among defensemen.
Despres, Pittsburgh’s first-round draft pick (30th overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft, will be looking to make his NHL debut tonight when the Penguins visit the Washington Capitals.
The 6-foot-4, 219-pound Despres completed a stellar four-year career with Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) in 2010-11 by helping to lead the Sea Dogs to both the QMJHL and Memorial Cup championships. The Laval, QC native also captured the Emile “Butch” Bouchard Award as the Best Defenseman in the QMJHL.
Last season Despres was also a member of Team Canada’s silver-medal winning squad at the 2011 World Junior Championships, tallying three assists and a plus-7 rating in seven games.
Picard, 26, has appeared in seven games this season for Pittsburgh, going scoreless with a plus-5 rating in 12:51 minutes per game.
Penguins Won't Hide Despres in Rookie's NHL Debut
Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:27 PM
WASHINGTON -- Head injuries to defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek have opened the door for Penguins 2009 first-round pick Simon Despres to make his NHL debut Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) against the Capitals here at Verizon Center.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma confirmed that Despres, the 30th pick of the 2009 Entry Draft who was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Thursday, will be in the lineup against the Caps. Despres will start the game paired with fellow rookie Robert Bortuzzo, but Bylsma doesn't plan to hide him.
"He is slated to play on the second (power-play) unit and sometimes that is not a whole ton of time on the power play, but he is slated to be out there on the power play," Bylsma said. "He has played 10 or 11 games in exhibition and he's played minutes. I know he's more than capable of playing in a lot of different situations, playing a lot of defense, being able to go back for pucks and make plays. He's had two months of being a professional and developing, and I'm fully confident he can be in a lot of different situations tonight."
Despres, 20, has 3 goals and 4 assists along with a plus-3 rating in 22 games as a rookie this season for the AHL Penguins. All three of his goals were game-winners and his 7 points are tied for the team lead among defensemen.
"A little nervous, but very excited," Despres told NHL.com Thursday morning when asked about his emotions. "It is what I have dreamed all my life. I'm just going to try to do my best to help the team."
Despres said he is familiar with the Penguins-Capitals rivalry because he's been watching it on TV since he was a kid. He said it will be special to play against Ovechkin.
Bylsma sounded as if he's ready to give the kid that chance, even though Brooks Orpik and Deryk Engelland will draw most of the even-strength ice time against Ovechkin.
"This is an opportunity with this game and the next game for Simon to show what he can do, and I think it's going to be more than just playing 10 minutes of hockey," Bylsma said. "He can be in a lot of different situations."
Orpik said he would be happy to give advice to Despres and Bortuzzo about playing against Ovechkin, but he doesn't want to fill their heads with minutia.
"I don't think you ever want to bombard them with stuff like that because then they go into the game thinking too much," he said. "You want them to just go out there and just concentrate on playing, let their instincts and natural ability take over. But with a guy like Ovechkin, I'm sure they have watched him on TV and seen enough of him. There are little things you can tell them about stick position, but you just want them to have a clear mind going into their first game."
That shouldn't be a problem for Despres.
"I will just try to take it one day at a time, play hockey, have some fun and enjoy it," he said. "That's all I can do really."