Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said Tuesday that Simon Despres not being eligible for waivers played a factor in him being sent down to Wilkes Barre on Monday. However, the real story with Despres is this:
He didn’t do enough to force himself on the roster and I’m hearing the coaches feel he was outplayed in camp by the likes of Robert Bortuzzo and top prospect Olli Maatta by a wide margin. At the end of the day, that’s the real reason Despres will be starting the season in the minors.
The interesting thing with Despres is where things end up going for him regarding his Penguins future. Prior to his demotion, there’s already been talk of how some decision makers feel his ceiling may only be that of a No. 3 pairing defenseman and the organization doesn’t view Despres in the same light as top prospects Maatta, Derrick Pouliot and Scott Harrington, who are viewed as the Penguins long-term core on the blueline.
Will the Penguins end up souring on Despres like they did with a former first round pick in Joe Morrow? I don’t get that indication yet, but I strongly believe Despres will be shopped this season if the Penguins have to address a critical need. That said, I don’t think the Penguins would make the same mistake of dealing Despres for a bottom-6 rental player like they did with Morrow. Any deal involving Despres would need to net a long-term player.

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma talked again of how scouts inside the organization and from other teams feel 19 year old defenseman Olli Maatta is ready for the NHL. We’re going to find out. Maatta seems to be making a big fan of Bylsma and here’s what the Penguins head coach had to say about Maatta.
“Part of his evaluation and part of where he’s at was longed before training camp, just in his play and what he’s done over the last couple years,” Bylsma said. “Our evaluation, our scouts, some people watching him, people on other teams watching him saying this guy is ready to be at the next level….be at the NHL.”
“Having seen that, scouted that from our group and coming in development camp to London camp to main camp, he’s certainly had opportunity to show that, more opportunity with his play in exhibition games and kept going along for him.”
“See the kind of defenseman he is, how he can skate, how can defend….. Strength wise, how he skates, how he can play with the puck as well, move the puck out of trouble. He is a young defenseman but certainly earned opportunity to be here and be on our roster. We’re going to be going forward with that situation and see how it goes with seven healthy defenseman that we have now.”
*Kris Letang is not considered a candidate to go on LTIR and look for him to only miss a couple games. One source feels Letang’s injury is a 10-14 day injury at the most. He is believed to have suffered a tweaked knee last Friday —- continues to be the word I’m getting.
*Matt D’Agostini could be headed to injured reserve in the coming days. His progress has been slow with what is believed to be a groin injury. Don’t look for him to play this week.
*Chuck Kobasew is still skating with the team and his camp remains in talks with the Penguins. I’m told a signing is considered likely once Tomas Vokoun goes on LTIR. Look for a deal to come in around $600,000.
*Speaking of Vokoun, he’s doing well and has been around the team this week. The Penguins have been expecting more clarity regarding a timetable on how long he will be sidelined from doctors in the next day or so. The team is preparing for him to miss at least 2-3 months.