Penguins are excited by Pouliot’s ‘high-end talent’

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When a report describes a player’s name putting a “twinkle” in a coach’s eye, you know that guy is making a good impression.

That’s not to say that the Pittsburgh Penguins coaches who were asked about Derrick Pouliot in this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story gave him flawless feedback, yet their comments seemed glowing overall.

Penguins assistant coach Alain Nasreddine described him as a “high-end talent” and that he’s “an NHL player right now, no question.” John Hynes, the head coach of the team’s AHL affiliate, described him as very coachable and very special.

While Nasreddine admitted that the 20-year-old could probably use more seasoning at the AHL level – especially once the Penguins get a little healthier on defense – it sounds like Pouliot is justifying his status as the eighth pick of the 2012 NHL Draft so far.

So far, Pouliot has three points in six games while averaging close to 18 minutes of ice time per night. His possession stats aren’t perfect, yet he hasn’t exactly been protected with such a depleted defense corps, so Pittsburgh’s received a decent look at what he can do.

“I don’t think at any level, whether he’s playing bantam, midget, juniors, the AHL or the NHL, from a puck possession and vision point of view, has he struggled,” Penguins head coach Mike Johnston said. “His thing, as it is at every level, is getting used to bigger, stronger guys, getting used to what you have to do in the defensive zone and in defensive battles. It’s a matter of getting used to the level of the league as far as physical size. That’s what I saw at the junior level, and that’s what I see here now.”

Sounds like a strong start.