Penguins' prospects honored, including Despres

| Friday, April 8, 2011

» Only a couple of days after Brad Thiessen was named American Hockey League Goalie of the Year, another of the Penguins' top prospects was honored. Simon Despres, their 2009 first-round pick, on Thursday was named Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Defenseman of the Year. Regarded the Penguins' No. 1 prospect, Despres also was named a first-team all-star. He produced 13 goals and 41 points and was a plus-29 in 47 games this season. Kris Letang, a former winner of the award, said he believes Despres can become a great player for the Penguins. "He's got so much skill, and you can just see that he's going to be a really good player," he said. Despres has been so impressive in two training camps with the Penguins that many believed he would be given a chance with the team this season. Instead, the Penguins opted to be patient with the 19-year-old. "He probably could have played some games at this level this year and been fine," Letang said. "I don't know if it would have been good for him to be here the whole year, but he could have played some. He's really good."

» Penguins general manager Ray Shero and New York Islanders GM Garth Snow are expected to meet with NHL officials before tonight's game. Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to attend the game.

» With two games left in the regular season, the Penguins still could meet Tampa Bay, Montreal, Buffalo, the New York Rangers or Carolina in the first round of the playoffs.

Additional Information:

Penguins game day


7 p.m. today, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

TV/Radio: ROOT Sports/WXDX-FM (105.9) and the Penguins Radio Network

Pens streak: won 2

Season series: The Penguins are 3-1-1 against the Islanders this season, with the home team winning each contest. This series, of course, won't be remembered by wins or losses but rather by concussions and brawls.

Who to watch: Islanders LW Trevor Gillies has as many goals (two) as suspensions this season, and his actions helped provoke the fight-marred contest Feb. 11 that led to the suspensions of the Pens' Eric Godard (10 games), Gillies (nine games) and the Islanders' Matt Martin (four games).

Trends: Rookie Michael Grabner (33 goals), Matt Moulson (31 goals) and John Tavares (28 goals) give the Islanders a potent offense. ... Key NHL personnel are expected to be in attendance, given the historical brawl that erupted when these teams last met. ... The Penguins are one point behind Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division lead. The Flyers play tonight in Buffalo.

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