It’s off to Austria next on Simon Despres’ hockey world tour, which has taken him through Slovakia, Sweden, and Germany the last few seasons. The veteran defenseman has signed a new contract with Villacher SV for the upcoming season.
Despres, 30, was originally selected 30th overall in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Penguins and quickly became a top prospect, making it to the NHL by the 2011-12 season. A few years later the Penguins would flip him to the Anaheim Ducks in order to bring back Ben Lovejoy, a move that did ultimately help them win the Stanley Cup in 2016.
It is in Anaheim where things started to go wrong for Despres, who experienced several concussions and was eventually bought out by the Ducks just a year into his new five-year $18.5MM contract. In fact, Despres played just a single NHL game under that contract and yet will still be earning a paycheck from the Ducks through 2024-25.
Since a failed comeback attempt with the Laval Rocket, Despres has been playing in various leagues around the world, including the KHL, SHL, and most recently the DEL, where he spent the last two seasons, winning the championship both years. The 6’4″ defenseman had the kind of all-around talent that is so desirable in today’s game but will go down as something of an unsolved mystery thanks to injury–at least in terms of his NHL career.