Toledo defender Simon Denis (9), right, celebrates scoring a goal against Florida in a March 25 game. Denis has re-signed with the Walleye. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
The Walleye re-signed defenseman Simon Denis, who became a fan favorite and well-liked teammate in his rookie season with Toledo last year.
Denis, 25, had a productive first professional season. The defenseman set a Walleye single-season record in plus-minus rating with a plus-40.
In 70 games, Denis led all Walleye defensemen in points during the regular season with 55. He scored 15 goals with 40 assists and had 29 penalty minutes. The Burnaby, British Columbia native added two goals and three assists in nine playoff contests.
Denis was named ECHL Player of the Week for Feb. 6-12 when he posted four goals and three assists, including a hat trick on Feb. 11 against Brampton.
Before turning pro, Denis played in 141 games at Ferris State University. He finished with 15 goals and 45 assists during his college career.
Walleye coach Dan Watson said Denis developed into an elite defender during his rookie season.
“It was an amazing first, pro year for Simon,” Watson said. “His work effort is tremendous, and he is a great locker room guy.”
Denis gained respect when he took the high road after he was viciously cross-checked by Kalamazoo captain Ben Wilson during the playoffs. In Game 2 of the Central Division semifinals on April 15, Wilson forcefully cross-checked Denis seven times across his back as the Walleye defenseman was down on the ice in a stunning outburst.
“It’s playoff hockey,” Denis said after the episode. “It’s intense, and emotions get the best of you. I’m sure if their guy could go back in time, I’m sure he wouldn’t want that to happen either.”
Denis was sidelined for eight games during the playoffs after suffering the injury. The ECHL suspended Wilson for 20 games.
Denis helped lead Ferris State to a conference championship in 2016 as an assistant captain.