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2009 Draft: Day 1 Recap

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Quick thoughts from Day 1 of the 2009 NHL entry draft at Bell Center:

PENS’ PICK ANALYSIS

D Simon Despres, a 6-foot-3/205-pound left-handed shot, scored two goals and recorded 32 points to go with 74 penalty minutes in 66 games with Saint John of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. His notable pre-draft ratings:

NHL Central Scouting: 8th, North America

Red Line Report (independent): 33rd, overall

International Scouting Service (independent): 30th, overall

According to RLP, Despres projects to a third or fourth defenseman and a shutdown specialist (think: Rob Scuderi). His style compares to Brent Seabrook. “Like Alex Grant and Yann Sauve before him, Despres is another top defense prospect who failed to develop properly under Saint John’s coaching staff. … He’s smooth and poised with the puck, but seems content to make good outlets and play a steady game. … Can be a beast to play against when he’s looking to play physically, but must do so on a more consistent basis.”

According to ISS, Despres’ potential is as a defensive defenseman and he compares to Nigel Williams. “After watching his slow development we feel he is simply overrated. … His play is sometimes inconsistent and his puck skills need some time. … As opposed to using the body when absolutely necessary, he will have to consistently learn to finish checks and step up in the neutral zone.”

FLYERS SNAG PRONGER

To borrow one of former Penguins coach Michel Therrien’s favorite phrases, THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT the Flyers believed they were a true No. 1 defenseman from supplanting the Penguins as the Eastern Conference’s top team. There is no other way to analyze the massive package they shipped to Anaheim for D Chris Pronger (and C Ryan Dingle).

I should probably reserve judgment, but the early read on this deal is that RW Joffrey Lupul (25 goals, 50 points last season), D Luca Sbisa (the 19th overall pick in 2008), the 21st overall pick this year, a first-round pick in 2010 and a third-round pick in either 2010 or 2011 … and, well, everything but owner Ed Snider’s kitchen sink.

Seriously, Philadelphia! Seriously?

Unless Pronger, 34, can, A) play like he’s 28, and B) clone himself twice, the Flyers still don’t match up well with the Penguins’ core forwards. Plus, trading Lupul, who plays well against the Penguins, is a mistake if the idea is to dethrone the Eastern Conference champs.

Oh, and who is the Flyers’ goalie again? EXACTLY!

Also, don’t be surprised if the Penguins now make a run at Flyers RW Mike Knuble, who is set to become a UFA and the Flyers likely can’t fit under the cap. He’ll be 37, but he’d be a perfect fit for the Penguins. Perfect.

What do you think? Send Tribune-Review Penguins beat writer Rob Rossi your thoughts via e-mail.

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Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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