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2009 Draft: Day 1 Recap

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.

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

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