The Montreal Canadiens will take a chance on a former top prospect, as they have signed Simon Despres to a professional tryout and invited him to their training camp. Despres played last season in the KHL, but indicated he would like another chance at an NHL career at some point. That chance is now, and the Canadiens may represent his best option while they deal with an injury to Shea Weber and need defensive depth.
Despres, 26, is from nearby Laval and is a worthwhile gamble for Montreal after recording 11 points in 44 games for Bratislava Slovan. Though he didn’t end up making the cut for the Canadian Olympic team, he did play some international games during the season and effectively proved his health on the ice. That health will obviously be the biggest factor in any potential NHL return, but the former QMJHL Defenseman of the Year was highly regarded in the early part of his career as a shutdown defender who used his long reach and good positioning to stifle offenses in his own end.
The Canadiens have already brought in other depth options like Xavier Ouellet and Mike Reilly over the last few months and could get a bigger contribution from Noah Juulsen this season, but are still looking for any way to upgrade their blue line after a disastrous 2017-18. With Weber missing a good chunk of last season, the team struggled at both even-strength and on the penalty kill. Despres doesn’t exactly fit their need of a puck-moving option, but if he can show he’s healthy enough to contribute the team could certainly use the depth.