The Philadelphia Flyers, represented in the 2009 SBN Mock Draft by Broad Street Hockey, are proud to announce their selection of Simon Despres, defenseman from the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
It's not that the Flyers are necessarily thin on defense in their system. But when the opportunity comes along to draft a guy who has the potential of being a strong, physical, puck-moving defenseman, it's hard to pass that up. He's expected to go long before the 21st pick by most media outlets that are projecting this years draft, so getting him at number 21 is considered a real steal.
Yes, it's true that his stock has dropped thanks to a poor performance at the Under-18 World Championships for Team Canada. But the fortunate thing for the Flyers in selecting him is that they don't need him to be NHL ready this season, next season, or even necessarily the following year. He will have plenty of time to mature and develop, and with the skills that he already has, the chances of him developing into a very strong second-pairing NHL defenseman are very high.
Okay, so what about this skill set of his? First off, he's a big guy and has a physical game. Let's not shy away from it -- that's important in this town. But in addition to his size and physicality, he is a very fluid skater and as McKeen's draft guide puts it, he's a "natural puck carrier." He's also a very smart hockey player and reports from scouts say that it's rare for him to make a stupid play with the puck. He's also always in position and while he might not score many goals, he will not disappoint on a defensive assignment.
Here are a few more quotes on Despres...
He spent [2007/08] playing more of a defensive role and looked like a steady veteran as opposed to 16-year-old rookie. On a team with a number of names on the blue line, he really impressed me last season with his smart, safe, simple game in his own zone. ... You can tell he thinks the game well, has that vision on the ice where he can see things develop, anticipate the play and react appropriately. This benefits him at both ends of the ice. He's a good skater, picks his spots well and has some nice decent size, although he's more the "tie up a forward" type as opposed to "drill him through the boards."
I think for a potential pro player, he's got the size and mobility. I've seen him many games, and he never seems to make a bad play. He's never going to get 100 points, but definitely, when you want a guy to play defense, he's your guy. He does it all, he'll block shots and he moves the puck at the right time.
The Flyers would be priviliged to see Simon Despres pull their jersey over his head on Friday night, and ultimately patrolling their blueline in a few short years.