The 22-year-old Despres appeared in a career-high 22 games for the Penguins last season, finishing with five assists. He scored six goals and added 16 assists in 36 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. His plus/minus ratio of plus-19 led the team.
Despres struggled to stay in the lineup under former Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, but will have a chance to play regularly after the team lost veteran defencemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen in free agency.
I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.
— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic