For the second time in as many seasons, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres finds himself sidelined long-term and it appears he could be once again dealing with concussion issues.
Nothing has been made official by the Ducks, but TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Sunday that Despres, 25, has been placed on long-term injured reserve by Anaheim and it sure sounds like the issues could be associated to another concussion. According to the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens, Ducks GM Bob Murray has hinted that Despres is battling “similar issues to the concussion-related problems,” and the young blueliner has been forced to miss each of Anaheim’s past five games.
The scariest thing about Despres suffering another concussion is that it isn’t as if he missed simply a game or two due to head injuries during the 2015-16 season.
After taking a high hit from Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in October 2015, Despres was forced to miss the next 42 games as he battled back from a concussion. And after his January return, Despres would only remain completely healthy until late-March, at which point he suffered another concussion that saw him shelved for six games.
Before the 2016-17 seaosn began, Despres described to Stephens what he was going through during some of the worst periods of his recovery.
“Well, I was sensitive to light,” Despres told Stephens. “Sensitive to noise. More emotional. I had headaches. Dizziness. Close to fainting. Stuff like that…It was a challenge. It was dangerous.”
In the same breath, though, Despres said that he was prepared for the rigors of the new season and said that he believed his hard work in the off-season would help him find his stride again. That’s what makes his return to the injured list so sad for the youngster. Like Ottawa Senators winger Clarke MacArthur, who is attempting to get healthy once again after suffering his fourth concussion in 18 months, Despres has to be wary of his long-term health.
Despres is still an incredibly promising player, and his play during the 2015 post-season showed the Ducks exactly how capable he is. That run to the Western Conference final saw Despres average nearly 21 minutes of ice time per game, post one goal and seven points and shut down some of the game’s top stars. It also earned him a huge off-season raise, as Anaheim inked Despres to a five-year, $18.5-million deal.
There’s no silver lining in this for Despres, to be sure, but it does offer the Ducks a very slight break in terms of the salary cap.
With Despres on the shelf, $3.377 million has opened up in LTIR relief cap space. Anaheim is still trying to sign young blueliner Hampus Lindholm, and while it’s unlikely Despres’ cap relief is enough to make that happen, it does free up some space and mean less salary would have to be shipped out if Anaheim is attempted to swing a deal to free up additional salary room.
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