This afternoon, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they had sent 11 palyers to the team’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Among those players was 2009 first-round pick defenseman Simon Despres.
While Despres didn’t have a shot at a top-four spot on the Penguins simply because of the depth the team has at that position, he could very well have contended for a spot on the team’s third pairing alongside Ben Lovejoy, Deryk Engelland, Matt Niskanen, or Alexandre Picard.
However, Despres would have only received third-pairing minutes, and it seems the team thinks it better for him to get top-pairing minutes in the AHL than considerably less minutes in the NHL.
For a 20-year-old, I agree. I would have liked to see what Despres could have done in a preseason game or two, so the timing of the move is surprising, but this is what he had coming the whole time.
Joining Despres on the trip back to Wilkes-Barre will be forward Brandon DeFazio, Brian Gibbons, Ben Street, Paul Thompson and Geoff Walker, in addition to defensemen Alex Grant, Joey Mormina, Philip Samuelsson and Carl Sneep. Goaltender Patrick Killeen was also sent down.
Forward Tom Kuhnhackl was sent back to Windsor of the OHL while Dominik Uher was returned to Spokane of the WHL.
Defensemen and 2011 draft selections Joe Morrow (first round) and pick Scott Harrington (second round) remain with the team
Be sure to check out my preview for tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, and follow me on Twitter @TroyPfaff.