This next season, the Pittsburgh Penguins will have some decisions to make regarding their defense.
With Deryk Engelland, Matt Niskanen, and Brooks Orpik hitting the open market, and Olli Maatta out the next 4-6 months due to shoulder surgery, Pittsburgh currently has – with exception to Maatta – four defensemen from this past season’s roster: Robert Bortuzzo, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, and Rob Scuderi.
So, that means there’s one slot open on defense for sure. And while Derrick Pouliot was arguably the top choice to fill that vacancy, his recent shoulder surgery casts a cloud over that predetermined projection. However, there are a number of options remaining that Pittsburgh could use instead of the renowned top prospect in their system.
The likely candidates are either Simon Despres, Brian Dumoulin, Scott Harrington, or Philip Samuelsson. And the case for Dumoulin is strong.
Dumoulin, who was one of eight players out of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton who made their NHL debut this past season, performed in six contests for Pittsburgh and registered his first career point (assist). For the most part, Dumoulin played a steady two-way game, and he even saw some time on the team’s top power-play unit. But what he’s doing down in WBS now is the reason why the edge is in his favor.
Ranking second on the team in scoring with 12 points (3G, 9A) during the baby Penguins’ Calder Cup playoff run, Dumoulin’s numbers rank him third in the American Hockey League (AHL) for defensemen, with just a point off the top spot. Dumoulin recorded 21 points (5G, 16A) in the regular-season, so the only explanation I have for the sizable difference in production is the guy’s a gamer.
And for Pittsburgh, they could use every ounce of what Dumoulin brings.
Acquired via the Jordan Staal trade, Dumoulin was a second-round (51st overall) draft selection of the Carolina Hurricanes, but is a product of Boston College. If you’re familiar with college hockey at all, the Boston College Golden Eagles are pretty good at winning. And Dumoulin was apart of that track record, when his Golden Eagles captured the NCAA Championship in 2012. A season in which Dumoulin wouldn’t forget.
The now 22-year-old finished as finalist for the Hobey Baker Award (top NCAA hockey player), honored as a American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) First-Team All-American, and was named to the All-Hockey East First Team. So, Dumoulin has a history of success – just what the doctor ordered if you’re Pittsburgh.
At 6-foot-4, 219-pounds, Dumoulin will bring a big body on the blue-line for Pittsburgh, and has a more defensive-oriented style of play. While they have a few who replicate Dumoulin’s efforts, his inclusion won’t go unnoticed, because from his time up with the club this past season he showed true foreshadowing into what he’ll be.
Dumoulin’s doing everything for WBS, and it may be time to unleash him in the NHL full-time next season.
Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins