The Pittsburgh Penguins first external signing of the 2021 NHL Free Agent Frenzy was a familiar face that makes Penguins fans uneasy. Talented winger Dominik Simon returned to the Penguins via a one-year, two-way deal.
A cabal of national reporters had the story first, including Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff and Sportsnet. Pittsburgh Hockey Now forecasted the likelihood in our morning free-agent preview.
Simon, 26, was scoreless in 11 games for the Calgary Flames last season. The Penguins did not qualify him, and he signed with Calgary for one year at $700.000.
The Penguins brought back Simon on a two-way deal, which means he can be assigned to the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins and not count against the salary cap, either.
Simon played with the Penguins over four seasons, including three games as a fresh rookie from the Czech Republic in 2015-16. His most productive season was 2018-19. He set career highs in games played (71), points (28), and goals (8).
Simon was a lightning rod for criticism as his statistics did not look like a suitable winger for Sidney Crosby, but head coach Mike Sullivan often used Simon on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top line.
After Simon signed on Wednesday, Twitter quickly fretted about a Simon-Crosby reunion or dug up past angst over Simon.
Dominik Simon returning to the pens: pic.twitter.com/KqsqCpegv8
— Syd (@LeafyTV) July 28, 2021
Analytical analysis showed Simon improved the Penguins’ top line by about 10%, but eventually, the Penguins wanted more offense, too.
Simon was the second Penguins signing on Wednesday. He and Evan Rodrigues belied the Penguins stated direction of looking for size and physicality. Simon is just 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds.