The Montreal Canadiens have decided to give a former 1st round draft pick another shot at playing in North America.
According to a report from RDS the Habs have signed former Pittsburgh Penguins 1st round pick to a professional tryout offer with their American Hockey League affiliate the Laval Rocket. The move would mark a return to North America for Despres who spent all of last season playing in the Kontinental Hockey League for Bratislava Slovan, a team with which he had relatively limited success.
Despres spent the entire 2017 - 2018 regular season with Bratislava Slovan for whom he appeared in 44 games recording 4 goals and 7 assists for a total of 11 points. He was a -13 over that stretch however and that may explain why Despres is now settling for merely a PTO at the American Hockey League level, an offer that doesn't even guarantee him an AHL contract with the Rocket.
It is understandable however that Despres has had his fair share of struggles finding stable employment in the hockey world given his track record in recent years, a track record that suggest that he will not be able to maintain a consistent level of play for any extended period of time. Prior to making the move to the KHL Despres played for the Ducks but his long history of serious concussion problems effectively destroyed his time in Anaheim, forcing him to miss the entire 2016 - 2017 regular season just after signing a big new 5 year contract with the Ducks organization. It was after his 3rd head injury within a 1 year time frame that the Ducks opted to buy him out of his contract and move on from him altogether.
In the two seasons he played with Anaheim prior to the 2016 - 2017 campaign Despres appeared in a total of just 48 games which begins to give you an idea of just how unreliable an asset he was for the Ducks, and which also explains why the organizations frustrations with him eventually led to his contract being bought out. In spite of that he remains a capable hockey player and if he can stay healthy it would not be a huge surprise to see him earn a more permanent role on the rocket, and perhaps even work his way up to the NHL again, although admittedly that does seem a ways off at this juncture.