FREE SIMON DESPRES
Simon Despres is wearing the scarlet letter. That letter is P.
Despres gets scratched when the Penguins play physical teams. For no good reason. The rookie defenseman plays tough enough. He’s no shrinking violet.
But Coach Dan Bylsma put Despres in the press box for two games against Philadelphia and two against Boston. Despres isn’t soft. But that’s going to be the perception, if it isn’t already.
Despres is one of the Penguins’ top six defensemen. Maybe top four. Despres should be in the lineup every night regardless of the opposition.
How will the Penguins’ D shake down by playoff time?
Nobody fights in the playoffs. The need for Deryk Engelland and Robert Bortuzzo plummets. If no defensemen are acquired, we might see pairings of Paul Martin-Brooks Orpik, Mark Eaton-Kris Letang and Despres-Matt Niskanen. Rumor says the Penguins are looking to get a top four-caliber defenseman to partner Letang.
No need. Despres could do that job, or he and Niskanen could be an excellent 5-6 pairing.
But what if the Pens play Boston or Philadelphia?