June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Derrick Pouliot puts on a jersey while standing next to Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux after being selected as the number eight overall draft pick to the Penguins in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pouliot Excelling in WHL


As the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to sporadically play sufficient on the defensive end, the organizations recent first round selection continues to shine in the WHL.

Defenseman Derrick Pouliot, selected eighth overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is the Penguins prized defensive prospect currently thriving for the Portland Winterhawks.

In 39 games this year, Pouliot has compiled 38 points (8G, 30A) and has an eye-popping plus-31 rating.  And if you don’t think that is impressive, put this into perspective, Pouliot had 59 points (11G, 48A) in 72 contests last season.

He’s on pace to smash his statistics from a year ago.  And this has to be nothing but excellent news for the Pens.

Trading valuable centerpiece Jordan Staal, the Pens were able to swipe up Pouliot.  The future looks bright for the young defenseman.

But why not use him in the NHL right now?

If this kid is as dreamy as they say he is, and what he shows he is, why not utilize him?  You could probably come up with a thousand reasons to keep him in Portland.

But what good is he down there–honestly?  Why must Pittsburgh persistently insist on relying on the defense that they have now?

When a player is hyped as much as Pouliot is, he should be in the NHL.  Sorry Pittsburgh, your team needs this kid.  Yes, needs him.

The team can continue to tell themselves that they’re well capable of fixing the issue with what they got, but they ought to strongly consider Pouliot.  Not only will he help on defense, but he is going to help the power-play immensely.

The Pens have had difficulty capitalizing on their man-advantage opportunities.  And for that matter, they have had a hard time with secondary scoring.  Meaning, others need to score besides Crosby, Malkin and Neal.

His vision across the ice is impressive and his quarterback mentality creates the many scoring opportunities he provides.  Not to mention he skates just as good, if not better, than defenseman Kris Letang does now.

Even if the team might fear Pouliot may not be ready–his time is ready.  Improving vastly year in and year out, he can only gain big-league experience, and integrate into the team for future endeavors.

I have a hard time believing the team feels comfortable with an inconsistent Paul Martin and unproven players in Ben Lovejoy and Simon Despres going forward.  For as much as I like Despres and Lovejoy’s upside, they need players that are going to make an impact on defense both ways immediately.

If they don’t use him, we all know that it is because they don’t think that he is ready–obviously.

However, if they do choose to call him up, I feel that the team will only benefit.

Pouliot for now will continue tearing up the WHL.  His next game is tomorrow, where the Winterhawks will go to Seattle to take on the Seattle Thunderbirds.



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