HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga announced today that forward Dominik Simon and the club have reached a mutual agreement to terminate his contract. The move makes Simon, who split the 2021-22 season between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks, an option to return to the NHL in 2023-24.
The Prague-based club had a strong season due in part to the contributions of former NHLers Vladimir Sobotka and Michal Kempny, but injuries made Simon a non-factor this year. Expected to be one of the team’s top forwards, Simon instead posted just two goals and an assist in 22 games, and injuries kept him out of the lineup entirely after the New Year.
With Simon understandably looking for a fresh start after his return to his home country went awry, it’s not surprising the club agreed to release him from his contract, which ran through the next season.
Initially eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft, Simon was passed over three times before Pittsburgh finally took a flier on him with a fifth-round selection in 2015 after he posted 30 points in 52 games with Extraliga club HC Plzen. Simon immediately headed stateside, posting strong totals in the minors with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and even earning some brief call-ups early on.
Simon would eventually grow into a full-time role with Pittsburgh in the coming seasons, posting a career-high eight goals and 28 points in 71 games in 2018-19. Despite becoming a reliable enough bottom-six piece, the Penguins opted not to qualify him in the 2020 offseason, where Simon then signed a one-year deal with the Calgary Flames in free agency.
Things have consistently gone downhill for Simon after that COVID-laced 2020-21 season, where he appeared in just 12 games combined with Calgary and their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat, not getting on the scoresheet in any of them. A return to Pittsburgh the following season didn’t do much to revitalize his offense, and he was included as a minor piece in the Rickard Rakell trade with the Anaheim Ducks before heading to Czechia last year.
While it’s obviously been a trying few seasons for Simon, there is likely a place for him in an NHL organization looking to add a veteran presence to their AHL affiliate. He’s an attractive option given his brief playoff experience and teammates in Pittsburgh, and some high-end ice time could help him regain his confidence enough to push for an NHL depth role once again.