Simon Despres (Photo by USA Today)

by Matt Smith, Staff Writer/Social Media Specialist, All Habs Hockey Magazine

Simon Després, Defence, Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
July 27, 1991 | Laval, Quebec, Canada
6-4, 218 lbs. | Shoots Left

Listed as an unrestricted free agent, it is still very much uncertain whether or not 25-year-old, Laval-born, Simon Després will be able to recommence his NHL career after missing all but one game of the 2016-2017 season due to recurring concussion symptoms.

Després was selected in the first round, 30th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, the same year the Montreal Canadiens selected Louis Leblanc 18th overall. Després was traded to the Anaheim Ducks during the 2014-2015 season for defender, Ben Lovejoy and earned a five year contract extension valued at $18.5 million. Després carried an annual cap hit of $3.7 million through the 2020-2021 season.

Després suffered a concussion as a result of an illegal hit from Colorado Avalanche defenceman, Tyson Barrie, just four games into the 2015-16 season. Després missed 42 games before returning to the Ducks lineup. Barrie was be suspended for three games.

Després missed another six games after returning to the lineup after being hit by another Avalanche player, Gabriel Landeskog, who also received a three game suspension. Després returned to conclude the regular season and participated in round one of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but was held pointless in seven games.

On June 16th, 2017, the Anaheim Ducks elected to buy-out the remaining years of his contract due to salary cap constraints, and his uncertain future due to his medical history. His contract has four years remaining, at a cap hit of $3.7 million.

The buyout left Anaheim with a retained cap hit of $1.26 million in 2017-2018. However, according to CapFriendly, the Ducks will get a $337,500 cap credit in the next two seasons before taking a hit of $962,500 in 2020-21 and then an annual cap hit of $662,500 from 2021-2025.

Following the buy-out, Anaheim Ducks General Manager Bob Murray had the following to say:

“Simon Després is a good hockey player and a good person. But at this point in time, we feel it is in the best interests of both Simon and the organization to part ways. We wish him the very best in the future.”

If Després decides to continue playing hockey, and deems his health issues are behind him, the Montreal Canadiens could be an appealing destination on either a professional try-out (PTO), or a two-way contract to reestablish his game. In the latter case, he could potentially play in his hometown of Laval, Quebec.

The addition of Després would add another Quebec born, French-speaking player to the organization, add depth to the blueline, and would without a doubt come cheap in terms of a contract. He would likely commence the season in Laval, playing in the top four as he rediscovers his game.

With six goals and 37 assists in 193 career NHL games, he will not wow you on the scoreboard game after game. That said, he is capable of chipping in offensively, while also using his size efficiently to play physical and block shots.

With health issues being the foremost concern, particularly for a player that is only 25-years-old, Simon will have to take his future health into consideration before making any decisions when it comes to hockey. However, if he is cleared to return, and would like to continue his career, I believe the Laval Rocket could be just the place for him to start.

Someday, Després could even suit up for the Montreal Canadiens, hopefully giving the fans more to cheer about than fellow 2009 draft pick, Louis Leblanc. Any team however, including the Montreal Canadiens organization, will also have to take Simon’s health into consideration before offering any sort of contract or PTO.