Pittsburgh Penguins Youth Movement: Top 5 Under 25

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Oct 30, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman

Simon Despres

(47) on the ice against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

3. Simon Despres

Simon Despres has been a new man in Pittsburgh this season.

After some streaky play over his first three seasons within the Penguins’ organization, Despres finally found a chance to play a regular role with the Pens this season under the team’s new coaching and management regime.

The 23-year-old defenseman has reinvented his game this season, adapting from an offensive-minded defender to one known best for laying out the opposition with bone-shattering checks.

He’s slowed down as of late but still has a respectable 12 points, 69 blocks, and 145 hits (the most among his teammates) in 45 games thus far.

The 2014-15 campaign has already been a career season for Despres and as long as he can avoid injury and get his production back on track, the second half should see him continue to rise through the Pens’ ranks.

Still only in his first true season with the Penguins (he’s never suited up for more than 34 games in one season before this one), Despres is setting himself up as a central piece of Pittsburgh’s future.