Defenseman Simon Despres, one of four players acquired by the Ducks on Monday in a deadline-beating trading spree, participated in the team’s morning skate Tuesday and is expected to play against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night at Gila River Arena. Despres was given uniform number 24 and will play the right side paired with Cam Fowler, whose previous partner, Ben Lovejoy, was traded to Pittsburgh for Despres.
Also expected to make his Ducks debut is left wing Tomas Fleischmann, who was acquired from Florida on Saturday (which seems like a long time ago after Monday’s activity). He switched from uniform number 41 to 14.
The other three new acquisitions won’t play Tuesday. Defenseman James Wisniewski, acquired from Columbus, and defenseman Korbinian Holzer, acquired from Toronto, were due to fly to Southern California on Tuesday and meet up with the team Wednesday. Center Michael Sgarbossa, acquired from Colorado, was expected to report to the Ducks’ farm team in Norfolk, Va.
Wisniewski will wear number 20 and Holzer will wear number 5 when they get into the lineup. Wisniewski had a slight bone bruise but that wasn’t expected to sideline him long-term. To have a spare player available on Tuesday, the Ducks recalled forward Chris Wagner from Norfolk.
Frederik Andersen is scheduled to start in goal for the Ducks, ending John Gibson’s streak of nine consecutive starts.
Despres, who led the Penguins’ defensemen with 184 hits in 59 games, said he was not expecting to be traded.
“I was out shopping for some furniture with my girlfriend and my phone blew up,” he said. “I had mixed emotions at the start, but now I’m definitely excited about the new opportunity and to play with a great team like the Anaheim Ducks.”
Despres, 23, had two goals and 17 points, 64 penalty minutes and a plus-9 defensive rating with Pittsburgh. He averaged 16 minutes and 22 seconds’ ice time per game.
“I think I’m a two-way defenseman. I could do a lot of things on the ice,” he said. “I could defend against top forwards, I could be very physical, I can move the puck well and I can skate, and I’m going to try and bring that to the team.”
Being physical is one of his focuses, he said, and a reason the Ducks liked the 6-foot-4, 214-pound native of Laval, Canada.
“I try to target top guys on the other team and make it hard to play against, make sure they have a tough night,” he said.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said it’s usually easier for a forward to adjust to a new team than it is for a defenseman, but he was confident Despres and Fleischmann would make smooth transitions. He also said he looked forward to Despres bringing some bite to the defense corps and the team, noting that Despres, in his last game with the Penguins, was feisty in protecting teammate Sidney Crosby.
“I didn’t realize his numbers are what they were. But that’s great,” Boudreau said. “He’s a big, strong kid and I know he plays with an edge. I watched the Columbus game the other day and Sidney got hit and he went right after the guy. That’s good. We need that ilk of a player because I think a lot of our goals are scored right in front of our net. The bigger we can be to knock guys out of the front of the net, the better it is.”