Derrick Pouliot is yet another strong defenceman on the list of the 2012 draft class prospects. He is ranked 12th overall for North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting rankings. Pouliot has spent the last three seasons with the Portland Winterhawks.
After playing just seven games in his rookie season he became a full-time defender with the Hawks in 2010. He tallied five goals and 25 assists for a 30-point season and a plus-13 that year. He nearly doubled his point total this season as he posted 11 goals and 48 assists for 59 points in 72 games, on a very successful Portland team. The Winterhawks made it all the way to a seventh game of the WHL Championship before losing to the Edmonton Oil Kings, missing a ticket into the Memorial Cup for the second straight year. He added three goals and 14 assists in 22 postseason games.
“It was tough,” sighed Pouliot. “We had another seven game series too but that last one was especially tough. Two years in a row when we were just one game away from winning it and making it to the Memorial Cup, it was a heart breaker.”
The scouts have him down as a very strong skater and a good puck-moving blue liner. He is really good at handling the puck and he’s an excellent passer. He’s known to often jump up and lead the rush as well as quarterback the power play.
“I’m more of an offensive kind of guy,” said Pouliot. “My hockey sense is good, I have good vision on the ice and am a strong skater. I use those things to my advantage.
“I’d like to improve my defensive game, making sure I’m being responsible on both ends of the ice and also be a little more intense and aggressive. “
The Weyburn, Saskatchewan product says he’d compare himself to players with patience and poise like Drew Doughty or Nicklas Lidstrom, as he tries to incorporate those qualities into his own game. This year’s draft class is filled with great defencemen that might eventually be compared to those two NHL’ers down the road. How does Pouliot feel he stands out from the rest?
“Everybody brings a little something different to the table but I think I have a great offensive upside,” he said. “And this year I improved my defensive game. I can play in both ends of the rink but I have that strong offensive side and that’s going to be the main thing to separate myself from the other guys.”
Pouliot interviewed with 23 teams at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto earlier in June and like every other prospect in the draft class, he’s counting down the days until he hears his name called up to the stage.
“You look at [the rankings] a little bit but in the end they don’t really matter at all. It’s what the team is looking for and every team has a different idea and anything can happen.
“It’s a dream come true though…it’s one step closer to fulfilling my dream of making the NHL. I’ll have to start all over but it’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”
Who does Pouliot turn to for draft advice as the date inches closer?
“I’ve talked to a lot of guys on my team who have gone through it over the last two years. They’ve just said the biggest thing is to have fun and enjoy it. It’s a once in a lifetime thing so you’ve got to enjoy it.”