The eighth overall draft pick in 2012, it’s been a while since Derrick Pouliot was considered a prized prospect.
These days, Pouliot is just trying to scrape out some semblance of an NHL career. The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t use the 23-year-old defenseman at all in the 2017 playoffs, despite having a number of injuries on the back end.
During the regular season, Pouliot only appeared in 11 games for Pittsburgh. He spent most of his time in the AHL with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Still, Pouliot got a one-year contract extension earlier this week, and he liked the direction his game was going by the end of last season.
“I was playing with a lot of confidence,” Pouliot told the Post-Gazette. “I was defending well, defending hard. That’s a thing that’s always been stressed by Pittsburgh and in Wilkes, to make sure you’re playing well defensively; everything else will take care of itself. Just playing an all-around solid game. I felt really good at the end of the season.”
Pouliot finished with seven goals and 16 assists in 46 games for the Baby Pens. He was also plus-15.
“It hasn’t necessarily happened as quick as a person would like, but you’ve got to stick with it,” he said, per NHL.com. “It’s not an overnight thing for some guys, it takes a little longer. I think with the season I had last year once I got going, it helped in my development and I hope to continue that coming into this year.”
Of note, Pouliot will no longer be exempt from waivers next season.