When the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Derrick Pouliot with the No. 8 overall pick in 2012 (after acquiring that pick in the Jordan Staal trade) it was expected that he would one day become a focal point of the team’s defense.
Nearly five years later, it is worth wondering if his time with the team is on the verge of coming to an end without ever coming close to reaching that expectation.
The Penguins announced on Tuesday morning that Pouliot, following another disappointing recall with the big club, has been sent back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.
In his place, the team recalled defenseman Frank Corrado (acquired at the trade deadline from the Toronto Maple Leafs) and forward Oskar Sundqvist.
Pouliot has only appeared in 10 games for the Penguins this season, but as has been the case in all of his recent stints with the team, his play seemed to be trending in the wrong direction. He continued to be prone to the big mistake that would either see him get caught out of position, flat out beaten one-on-one, or just not making the right play with the puck. In those 10 games he did not record a single point, was a minus-four, and posted only a 46.7 percent Corsi percentage.
What is perhaps most striking about his career with the Penguins to this point is that he not only hasn’t been able to gain the trust of any coach the Penguins have had (and for good reason), but that he can’t consistently crack the Penguins’ lineup or get a solid look with the team right now. Given the number of injuries the team is dealing with on the blue line with Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta and Ron Hainsey all sidelined, that is not encouraging.
Given his struggles at the NHL level during his first two years in the league, as well as the fact he is a restricted free agent after this season, this seemed to be a make-or-break year for Pouliot with the Penguins. Even though it has only been 10 games he really hasn’t done much to convince anybody that it is going to work for him in Pittsburgh.