It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Penguins defenseman Derrick Pouliot.
After an injury to star defenseman Kris Letang, the Penguins recalled Pouliot to be the next defenseman up. With Steven Oleksy the current seventh guy on the roster it’s quite likely they could use Oleksy as opposed to Pouliot. The Penguins have wanted a chance for Pouliot to play for a while and this may be it.
Pouliot hasn’t had the easiest transition to the NHL over the past couple of seasons. Through 57 career NHL games, he’s garnered only 2 goals and 12 assists for a grand total of 14 points. This production has been highly frowned upon inside and outside of the organization. His defensive play has never been held in high regard when he matches opposing players forwards.
The troubling part is that most of his career NHL time has come on the third pairing meaning quite a lot of his matchups have been team’s bottom six players. He’s still showing signs of not being a steady top-6 guy.
He’s had a pretty rough time down in the minor leagues as well. He’s had some horrific numbers (0 points and -4 in seven games) but general manager Jim Rutherford says that it doesn’t quite tell the story.
“He wasn’t necessarily there to see how many points he could put up. He was fine.” Rutherford told Dejan Kovacevic.
Sullivan won’t be forced to place Pouliot into the lineup but it’s likely he will be the one inserted in over defenseman Steven Oleksy.
Truth be told, this could be DP51’s final chance to impress the coaching staff and receive more playing time. If Letang sits out through the Penguins’ bye week, it will be a potential eight game stretch that Letang will miss. This would give Pouliot the opportunity to slot in and show his talents. He could very well be on his way out the door if his play isn’t what the team would’ve hoped.
Look for Pouliot to play his best hockey over the next few weeks as he may have to if he wants to stay with Pittsburgh.