Derrick Pouliot Made His Case: Needs To Stay


Last season, the rookie surprise of the year was Olli Maatta who went from an unknown defender to starting in the Penguins top four. He is a phenomenal talent and worked extremely hard during training camp to get a spot on the Pittsburgh’s 2013-2014 opening night roster. Initially Maatta was on the bottom pairing but as injuries struck and the season progressed, he became a regular in the top four. After the disappointing postseason, the roster was questioned and many changes were made, but Maatta remained unquestioned. 

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Maatta was off to a great start to the 2014-2015 season before it was announced he had a tumor on his neck and had surgery to remove it. He took it like a champ and was back on the ice as soon as the doctors let him, Olli played in just ten games before the Penguins announced he had to have another shoulder surgery and would miss the remainder of the season.

Welcome to Pittsburgh, Derrick Pouliot. When Maatta went down (along with a few other defenders) Pouliot was called up from the WBS Penguins and he has never looked back. I was present at his first game where he scored on his first career NHL shot, from that moment I knew he is going to become a very special player.

Derrick Pouliot was drafted in the 2012 entry draft at 8th overall. Since joining the Penguins organization, it was well known that he is an offensive wizard and it would not be long until he was a regular at the NHL level. Olli Maatta’s tragedy was an opportunity for Derrick Pouliot.

Here we stand a mere hours before the trade deadline and there are still rumors the Pittsburgh Penguins want to trade for another defenseman. Right now, Pittsburgh has between $100-$300k in cap space, meaning any trade made today would see the demotion of some players to WBS. Derrick Pouliot and Beau Bennett are the two names most mentioned in going back to the minors.  

Playoff hockey is an entirely different animal than regular season hockey, if you want Derrick Pouliot for the playoffs, he has to stay.

However, after watching Derrick Pouliot play last night, there is no fathomable way GM Jim Rutherford can send Pouliot back. Like Maatta before him, Pouliot has proven his talent and has a great opportunity to help the Penguins come playoff time.

I hear people saying “why don’t they send him down and bring him back up for the playoffs when the Salary Cap does not matter” but the Penguins simply cannot do that. You would take a young, but extremely talented, defender who has 20 career games played and make him wait in the minors until the playoffs and expect he can perform well then?

Mar 1, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) congratulates defenseman Derrick Pouliot (51) after Pouliot scored a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last night featured a defensive pair I loved watching, Kris Letang and Derrick Pouliot together and a powerplay unit I have been begging to see in action. That unit was Patric HornqvistSidney CrosbyEvgeni Malkin with Kris Letang and Derrick Pouliot on the point. Suffice to say Pouliot impressed me in every situation last night and showed why he needs to stay.

I would be lying if I said Derrick Pouliot was not my favorite player on the roster right now, he brings an explosive energy and is a thrill to watch even if he is kept off the scoresheet. If head coach Mike Johnston decides to keep Pouliot and Letang together, he undoubtedly has the best skating defensive pair in the league.