Has Derrick Pouliot Changed His Career?


Derrick Pouliot took all of three NHL games to show Pittsburgh Penguins fans why experts consider him the Penguins top prospect. No one, including GM Jim Rutherford thought he would have to call up former first round draft pick Derrick Pouliot to the big leagues this season. Pouliot was coming off off-season shoulder surgery and was expected to spend the season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins honing his game. 

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The Pittsburgh Penguins made a very smart front-office hire
The Pittsburgh Penguins made a very smart front-office hire /

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  • However, it appears Derrick Pouliot is not only ready for NHL action but ready to become one of the biggest stars in all of hockey. The biggest knock on Pouliot always has been his inconsistency in the defensive zone, but has he shown that with the Penguins? Not at all as the 2012 8th overall pick has looked calm, collected and sturdy under the pressure of playing in the NHL.

    No one will ever question Derrick Pouliot’s amazing ability to put pucks on net and score, a ton. Yet, I doubt that anyone would have guessed that his offensive talents would transfer so smoothly over to the NHL. In his first game with the Pittsburgh Penguins Pouliot was quarterbacking the second powerplay unit and actually got some time with the first unit.

    It was clear in his first game the Pittsburgh Penguins were shielding him to test how he would react to the accelerated play of the NHL level.  In his first game Pouliot was only on the ice for 15:07 but in his second and third games he logged over 18 minutes of icetime. Already in just three games he has made the case that he is one of Pittsburgh’s top offensive weapons.

    Dec 21, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin (8) on the ice against the Calgary Flames during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    The question now remains, what will Rutherford do with Pouliot when the other defenders return from injury? His play (not to mention that of Brian Dumoulin or Scott Harrington) has merited more time at the NHL level. His options seem to be send him back down to WBS or trade a veteran in order to keep him up in the big league.

    This conversation would not have even needed to be had if Derrick Pouliot had came to the NHL level and struggled, but he did not. Very similarly to Olli Maatta, Pouliot has blown away expectations.

    Personally I love the thought of Maatta (20 years old) and Pouliot (20 years old) soon becoming the Pittsburgh Penguins top defensive pairing. Maatta is more than capable of playing a full two-way game while Pouliot can be a lethal weapon on the blueline. I do not think this is a matter of IF this dream will happen but WHEN it will happen. Derrick Pouliot has shown to the entire world he is no where near his ceiling and is it heresy to say that in the not so distant future he could become a better player than Kris Letang?

    Regardless of what happens for the rest of the season, the future of the blueline in Pittsburgh looks outstanding and Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta will be the building blocks of the next great defense. The old are on their way out (Rob Scuderi, Paul Martin and already departed Brooks Orpik) and the young are about to takeover, except all of the Penguins young defenders are much better skaters than any of the other longtime Pittsburgh Penguins