Believe it or not, 2018-19 will make the fourth season that Dominik Simon plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Simon, who turns 24 years old next month, got three games in the NHL in the 2015-16 season after being drafted in the Pens overager strategy. That followed with only two games in 2016-17 and blossomed to 33 in 2017-18. A few weeks ago he signed a two-year, one-way deal with the Pens and figures to have a real shot at being a full-time NHL player.
Simon also got an interesting training invitation this summer, from none other than captain Sidney Crosby. (As first seen by us from Seth’s twitter feed)
Here’s a (bad) google translation from Czech:
Looks like Crosby likes you a lot, what do you say?
He is an excellent leader and super guy who has a good relationship with all the young players. Still, the offer is amazing because summer training is important. I was very grateful that I was invited to Halifax, where Sid comes from. I have a great chance to improve, so it would be foolish not to come.
You played Crosby in the formation. Does that mean that he was happy with you?
I hope it is. I think he wants to tap me so we can get to know each other even more. If we play together again, it’s always good. Already, along with other boys, we were on holiday in Barcelona, rejuvenated and walked through a few bars.
Did you make a good relationship with Crosby decide whether to stay in Pittsburgh?
It also played a big part. Not only his support but the fact that he is in the team because he is an example of everything he does. Everyone wants to be around him and I’m lucky I do not have to [be] quote in there. In summer and winter. I really appreciate it.
Will it be an expensive...to go to a monthly training camp to Canada?
Yeah, that one hundred percent, but that investment is good. I sacrificed everything [for] hockey, so I will not even pause.
You signed a two-year contract with an annual income of $ 750,000, which is not much at the NHL. Still, you’re probably happy, right?
I had an offer from Russia that was four times higher but I did not want to take it. I am stubborn, and when I put something in my head, I go for it. I refused to try to get into the NHL. I’ve been through three hard years, two of them fought on a farm, so it would not make sense if I back off. Having a one-time contract in such a team is a dream and it gives me the time.
To focus on the presence and my performance. Even though money is not the biggest, it’s still wonderful. I can play the NHL. I will try to be the best hockey player to sign a better and longer contract in two years. Now I use everything, after signing, I am experiencing such a relaxation. Only now can I say that I really got into the NHL.
How do you really be happy with the past season?
Power, even if the Stanley Cup was off. It was a balanced series with Washington, it could have happened anyway. But otherwise I’m excited because I managed to get the first goal in the NHL and finally I settled in a team, which after years of work on the farm is a great liberation and reward.
What did you find out after the first year in the NHL?
One knows that he has to keep improving, but I’ve found out that the NHL can be played. On the other hand, everyone is working and working on it, so it’s hard to keep there. But thanks to the contract I have more peace, so I do not have to stress as much as I did when I came there. I’m looking forward to the next one.
What do you say about team changes? Pretty enough players left the attack - what does it mean to you?
I saw. Some boys leave, but others come again. On the other hand, it is true that they mix more than expected.
Partly because of the money, because Pittsburgh has a very high salary ceiling. They needed to clean up. They’ve sent out super guys and buddies, but they’re the places to attack, so I can not complain. We will see how it is, there is a lot of competition at the camp and we are waiting for a fight. The leadership has some idea of how the team should look and builds accordingly. They think about it intensively and have a lot of options.
Will Pittsburgh be one of the biggest favorites? Is there still hungry?
100%, no pollination exists. They get into the money and want to get it back. There are great players here, we have the luck of the leaders. They are incredible players but also people. Ambitions will again be the highest
Well it’s great no pollination exists (whatever that means) but Simon’s answers are pretty much what you want to hear. He’s excited to go again and hopeful for a strong season.
The interesting item is probably training this summer with Sidney Crosby in Canada. Crosby+Simon absolutely tore it up while together possession-wise in 2017-18 (as seen on Natural Stat Trick):
If recent years are any indication, Crosby will likely cycle through a bunch of different wingers as the season goes on. Probably at the end of the day it will be Jake Guentzel there, and you would think when it’s playoff hockey it means it’s Patric Hornqvist time.
But it’s tough to ignore (even in a somewhat small sample) that Simon and Crosby controlled play to the tune of 60.6% of Corsi and the Pens posted 3.29 Goals/60 with the pair out there.
Simon isn’t a flashy player, but he definitely seems to think the game well which always is a plus for success playing with Crosby. Take Simon’s goal below, he puts himself quickly in a position to receive a pass from Sid immediately after #87 wins a battle and keeps the zone, and Simon is able to quickly release a shot from distance that beats the goalie.
Simon’s first career NHL goal is the simple, effective stuff that every fan loves to see- battle to get to the front of the net, get your stick free, find the rebound, punch it home.
Simon doesn’t have the physical tools or gifts of a player like Daniel Sprong, or even Jake Guentzel, Simon doesn’t have the drive like Zach Aston-Reese, but Simon’s game has meshed well with Crosby. Off season training can only further boost chemistry and benefit the young player too. Simon may not a rookie anymore, and he probably is going to be overlooked by many, but don’t be too surprised when he’s in the opening night lineup, possibly even on the 1st line.
As of right now, he’s probably the best young forward on the team (well, besides Guentzel) that will be in position to have a solid season and the most success.