Born: January 16, 1994 in Estevan, Saskatchewan
Drafted: 8th overall by Pittsburgh in 2012
Acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins just four days prior to the start of the season, defenceman Derrick Pouliot finally found his footing in the NHL on a crowded blue line with the Vancouver Canucks in 2017-18. The 24 year old former top prospect was shipped to the Canucks in exchange for Lithuanian giant Andrey Pedan, whom is expect to bolt for the KHL for 2018-19, and a 4th round pick in this month’s 2018 NHL Entry Draft. In effect, Pouliot was acquired by Canucks general manager Jim Benning in exchange for one season of AHL hockey from Pedan and a draft pick with about a 20% chance of producing an NHLer. Not bad, Jimbo. In return the Canucks got three goals and 22 points in 71 games out of Pouliot. Again, not bad.
Coming into the 2017-18 campaign, Pouliot’s career high in games played was just 34 back in 2014-15, his rookie season. Once considered one of the NHL’s top prospects thanks to an outstanding junior career that saw win the CHL’s Defenseman of the Year award in 2013-14 and claim a WHL championship with the Portland Winterhawks, Pouliot’s transition to pro hockey has been slow and steady. After a few up and down seasons split between the Penguins and their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pouliot was finally granted clemency from the Penguins organization and shipped to Vancouver for a fresh start. At 24 years old and edging dangerously close to earning the label of “draft bust”, the 2017-18 season was a pivotal one in Pouliot’s young career.
While he may not ever be the minute munching, point producing defender that many expected him to be earlier in his career, Pouliot still proved himself to be a capable and even valuable player this past season for the Canucks. Should he continue on his current development path, he could assert himself as a fixture on the team’s blue line for the indefinite future.
His first as a Canuck, against his old buds
Top of the dot drag, pull and snipe
Right down main street
Pouliot is slated to become a restricted free agent (RFA) on July 1st, 2018. Because he showed promise and versatility in 2017-18 and because he has the ability to play the left or right side of the ice, it’s expected that Pouliot will receive a new contract this summer. He’ll likely receive a decent raise on the $800,000 he earned in 2017-18, conservatively estimated to be in the $1 million to $1.5 million annual range.
With veterans like Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Erik Gudbranson and Michael Del Zotto still ahead of Pouliot on the team’s depth chart however, he’ll be in competition with the likes of Troy Stecher, Ben Hutton, Alex Biega and rookies Olli Juolevi, Evan McEneny and Ashton Sautner for ice time in 2018-19.