The Nottingham Panthers made a landmark addition to their roster on Monday [20 November], announcing the signing of former Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks defenceman Simon Després.
The 32-year-old, a former first round pick of the Penguins, arrives in the Elite League with 193 NHL appearances to his name, in addition to a wealth of experience playing in a collection of Europe’s top leagues.
“Simon is a player with great experience and one that we are excited to have in Nottingham,” said Nottingham head coach Jonathan Paredes.
“His puck-moving ability is very strong, as is his vision and ability to make a good first pass to exit the [defensive] zone. His long reach can make it difficult for opposing players while defending. He has produced at some of the highest levels and we believe he will fit in great with the group.”
With the Canadian set to debut for the Panthers on Sunday [26 November] versus the Belfast Giants, British Ice Hockey lifts the lid on his career path, notable attributes, and lineup projection in Nottingham.
Who is Nottingham Panthers defenceman Simon Després?
Després started his hockey journey in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the title-winning Saint John Sea Dogs.
The Laval-born defender produced 134 points (25 goals, 109 assists) in 240 regular-season appearances for Saint John, a tally he later parlayed into a three-year entry-level contract with the Penguins.
Després amassed 43 points (six goals, 37 assists) through 193 NHL appearances for Pittsburgh and Anaheim, with a further 48 points (17 goals, 31 assists) in 116 American Hockey League games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and San Diego Gulls.
The Quebecois blueliner moved overseas for the first time in 2017-18, when he inked a one-year contract with HC Slovan Bratislava of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Després departed the KHL with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 44 appearances and spent the following seasons in Germany’s DEL, the Swedish Hockey League, and the International Central European Hockey League.
Notably, Després won back-to-back national championships with Eisbären Berlin.
What are Nottingham Panthers defenceman Simon Després’ standout attributes?
While Després is primarily a puck-moving defenceman who adds value as a first pass option on the breakout, his natural physical prowess is a welcome bonus for the Panthers.
At the peak of his powers in 2014-15, the left-shooting skater amassed 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) in 75 NHL appearances for the Ducks and Penguins.
Although his final two seasons in North America were derailed by injuries, Després remains a highly productive player and projects as a useful addition at both ends of the ice for Nottingham.
Where will Simon Després fit into the Nottingham Panthers’ lineup?
Després is a like-for-like replacement for Victor Bjorkung, who announced his decision to leave the Panthers on Monday, and will therefore start on the second pair.
However, there is every chance he will challenge Michael Caruso for a spot alongside Carl Neill on Paredes’ top pair and first-choice special team units.
In other words, this is a slam-dunk addition for the Panthers.