Dominik Simon, a third-year guy usually showcasing his versatility down in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, was recalled for the second time this year by the Penguins in their matchup with the Colorado Avalanche Monday night to replace Tom Kuhnhackl, who was ruled out with an undisclosed injury.
Needless to say, the 23-year-old Czech was flying everywhere on the ice, earning top minutes alongside Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel after HC Mike Sullivan decided to swap him in for Conor Sheary while impressing just about everybody in the process.
Dominik Simon looks pretty darn good with Sid.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) December 12, 2017
In the 20 games he’s played with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Simon is touted as the team’s second leading scorer with 16 points (three goals, 13 assists), proving that he’s both a fantastic playmaker and a player that likes to opt for the perfect pass on offense. He’s known for having great hands, great vision, and is often praised by his teammates — namely Casey DeSmith — for being extremely skilled when it comes to seeing the ice. In fact, most of his points come from being the primary assist on goals. In the two games he’s had with Pittsburgh, Simon tallied two assists in each contest and carries a 56.3 Corsi For percentage this season (52.3% average for his career.)
Against the Avalanche, Simon started out on the third line paired with Riley Sheahan and Patric Hornqvist — a combination you can almost assume Sullivan put together to try and get Simon and Sheahan, another underrated passer, to set up Hornqvist in front of the net where the Swede likes to camp out as much as possible. Even strength goals are few and far between, so it was a solid strategy. Simon was also utilized on the second power play unit, and his impact on special teams was definitely noted throughout the game.
As the game went on, Sullivan noticed just how well Simon was performing, and in the third period, promoted him to the top line to play with Crosby while dropping Sheary to Sheahan’s line to work with Hornqvist.
It was the best in-game decision Sullivan’s made in a while. Not only was Simon productive, he was involved in just about every offensive surge the Penguins had midway through the final frame. He was fast, gritty, and was making plays on the puck left and right. It’s no wonder he’s doing so well down in the AHL.
I’d expect to see Simon called up several more times if he continues trending upwards. Right now, I’m more inclined to start him over a healthy Kuhnhackl, but maybe I’m just starved for even strength goals.