Penguins prospect Derrick Pouliot was one of five players cut following the second day of the Canadian National Junior Team selection camp at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.
This marked Pouliot’s first selection camp with Hockey Canada, and it was a busy couple of days for the 18-year-old blueliner. After practicing Tuesday morning, he participated in the intrasquad scrimmage, Team Red vs. Team White, later that night. Then on Wednesday, Pouliot was in the lineup for Canada’s exhibition contest against the University of Alberta, a 4-1 loss.
So although Pouliot did not make the final roster for Canada’s entry at the 2013 World Junior Championship (set for Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia), getting invited to try out and experiencing the process was a big accomplishment for the young defenseman. And Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald is confident the whole experience, both the highs and the lows, will only help him grow and mature as a player.
“I think it’s a great step for him that he got invited as an 18-year-old; it’s really a 19-year-old tournament,” Fitzgerald said. “For Derrick to get invited to the camp and have a chance to make the team, I think it’s a great experience for him. He’s a guy they’ll look at as an offensive, power-play type of guy for their team. Whether he makes it or not, it’s the experience in itself. Playing with all eyes on you, everyone is coming to watch, you’re under the microscope. It’s a good opportunity for him.
“If it doesn’t happen that’s OK, too. It doesn’t change how we feel about him as a prospect by any means. It’s just a hurdle, a little adversity. Moving forward it’s going to help him.”
Pouliot, a Penguins’ first-round pick (eighth overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, flew back to Portland today, where he will continue to be a leader for the first-place Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
While Pouliot’s time in Calgary is over, Penguins prospect and fellow defenseman Scott Harrington is still at camp and is virtually a lock to make his second-straight World Junior Championship team after helping Canada earn a bronze medal in last year’s tournament. Camp ends on Saturday, and the final roster will be announced sometime after that (click here for the full camp schedule).
Harrington, Pittsburgh’s second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, is captain of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights – who are currently riding an 18-game winning streak.