Mar 22, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Simon Despres (47) shoots the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Simon Despres To Be Full-Time NHL Player For Pittsburgh Penguins?

For a while now, Simon Despres has been a question as to where he’ll play.

Last season, Despres spent most of his time with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but had also performed in his fair shar of tilts for Pittsburgh.

But is this the season Despres becomes a regular everyday NHL player?

Despres, 23, was selected in the first-round (30th overall) back in 2009, and has yet to play a full season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it may be time for him to receive a shot to prove he can consistently be a integral part of the defensive corps.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound left-hander is exceptional when it comes to the two-way game, and is the type of defenseman that head coach Mike Johnston would love to integrate into his six-man rotation. Yes, at times, Despres can look foolish with his reads and gets caught being too indecisive, but that’s all apart of developing and getting adjusted to the speed of the NHL.

I believe Despres is just one of those defenseman that took a little longer to adapt to the NHL style. Look at Matt Niskanen, it took him years before he blossomed into the blueliner he is now. Yet, Despres is a player that has a chance to become even better than Niskanen, from my perspective. Not only does Despres now know how the NHL works, his new coach – Johnston – is the type of tutor that can help further his game twofold.

Mar 25, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Simon Despres (47) skates with the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Phoenix Coyotes won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff set to test free agency after the season – barring any extensions during the year – Despres’ inclusion means it also prepares him for the 2015-16 campaign. Instead of worrying on if he’s going to be demoted or if he’ll be dealt, Despres will be in a comfortable situation, foreshadowing a better, more productive player out of him. Albeit, that’s if he doesn’t get traded.

Because Pittsburgh is blessed with a plethora of budding young defensemen, Despres’ lineup spot also gives the team options should they look to package him in any deal down the road. If the Penguins showcase his talents in the NHL, other clubs will look at his age, where he was drafted, and envision him being a starter immediately for years. While some may view Despres as an experiment gone wrong, not every team will look at his situation that way, and could be interested in turning his career around.

There are certainly other defensive prospects the Pens could look to move at the opportunity to lock Despres into their lineup, but in order for them to accomplish anything with him, whether it be a potential trade or utilization on the team, Pittsburgh’s got to use him all season long to evaluate his future.

The longer the Pens keep Despres bouncing between the AHL and NHL, the more value he loses.

Again, I believe Despres is ready to be an everyday contributor, and a good one at that. It’s time to figure out if he actually is though.

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