Falling just short of making the roster this year, Pittsburgh Penguins’ prospect defenseman Derrick Pouliot is currently thriving for the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
Despite failing to land an NHL spot, Pouliot is continually showing us why he was selected in the top-10 (8th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Leading all defensemen on the Hawks in scoring, the 19-year-old standout blueliner has recorded 15 points (3G, 12A) through 14 contests (1.07 points-per-game), and is skating to a tremendous plus-15 rating. So when the team is burying the biscuit, chances are, he’s out there when it’s happening.
Missing four games out of the 18 total the Hawks’ have played, Pouliot would be ranked higher up on the scoring list for his team, but as it stands he currently sits sixth.
Posting a career-high 59 points (11G, 48A) in 72 contests for Portland during the 2011-12 campaign, the youngster is on pace to smash those numbers. In fact, if he continues to pot points at the rate he’s going and stays healthy for the rest of the Hawks’ 54 games, Pouliot could end up having roughly 70 points — eleven more than his best.
For a defenseman, the production he’s having translates to utter astonishment. And the fact he’s just 19-years of age just baffles me.
Standing at 6-foot and weighing in at 203-pounds, the Weyburn, Saskatchewan native is as gifted as they come. Possessing outstanding mobility, Pouliot has a terrific offensive mindset and a responsible understanding for where everyone is on the ice.
Rarely does he make bad decisions towards distributing the puck and much like how current Pens’ defenseman Kris Letang is designed, Pouliot knows how to make improbable plays with his vision. Owning a powerful shot from the point, he’s poised to create a dynamic tandem with Letang on the power play in the near future.
While he probably won’t see any time at the NHL level this season, due to a few players on the team expected to hit free agency, there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’ll be suited up in a Pittsburgh’ uniform next year.
We’ve already seen what blueliner Olli Maatta has been able to contribute so far this year, and there’s no reason to believe Pouliot won’t do the same.
For now, he’ll continue to tear it up on his junior club.