PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 28: Simon Despres #47 of the Pittsburgh Penguins handles the puck in the corner against the Chicago Blackhawks at Consol Energy Center on September 28 2010 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The Penguins defeated the Blackhawks 4-1. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled defensemen Simon Despres and Brian Strait from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, it was announced by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.
Despres, 20, has played in 16 NHL games this season for Pittsburgh, tallying four points (1G-3A) and a plus-5 rating while averaging 14:33 minutes per game. Despres has finished with a plus or even rating in 13 of his 16 games.
The 6-foot-4, 229-pound native of Laval, Quebec has also appeared in 37 games this season for WBS, scoring four goals, eight assists and 12 points. Despres was voted as a starter for the AHL All-Star Classic in Atlantic City, N.J. in January, but he had to miss the game due to injury.
Strait, 24, has appeared in four games this season with Pittsburgh, going scoreless with a plus-1 rating while averaging 11:55 minutes. In his most recent NHL game vs. Florida on March 9, Strait logged a career-high 16:38 minutes. Strait has appeared in seven career NHL games with Pittsburgh over the previous two seasons, posting an even rating.
A native of Boston, Mass., the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Strait has played in 40 AHL games this season for WBS, posting 16 points (4G-12A) and a plus-6 rating. Strait has appeared in 193 career regular-season games for WBS, notching eight goals, 32 assists, 40 points and a plus-50 rating. He has five points (1G-4A) in 16 career postseason games. From last game, Kris Letang left (and returned) to the lineup two separate times- once when he tried to check Dainius Zubrus and the two collided heads accidentally as if in a bozing match when Letang propelled in for the hit. Then later, Ryan Carter dangerously tripped Letang before the boards and Kris hit the ice and wall at full speed, grasping his wrist afterwards. Letang would come back, but who knows his status for tomorrow night's game.
Ben Lovejoy only played three shifts last game before sitting on the bench most the game and little word was given if he was hurt or if it was a coach decision.
Also, defenseman Matt Niskanen was said by coach Dan Bylsma to likely return this week from a minor, but undisclosed lower body injury.
It's no time to panic two weeks out from the playoffs, but this move to call up 2 minor leaguers should turn some heads. Without knowing anything, you'd have to think that Letang's status for the immediate future is definitely in doubt, thus the need to call up two guys before tomorrow's game.
We'll see how things look in practice, but for now another great opportunity for youngsters in Simon Despres and Brian Strait to get a little more NHL time under their belts and maybe some game action.