It was expected last year that Pittsburgh Penguins defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot was all but ready to step into a new, bigger role with the Metropolitan Division club.
Instead, though, he found himself splitting another season between the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the NHL club. He saw ice time with Pittsburgh in just 22 games, failing to record a goal and racking up just seven assists in the process.
Despite that less-than-stellar 2015-16 campaign, though, he’s only looking forward.
“[Last year] didn’t go the way I wanted,” Pouliot said after an informal workout Friday at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“The year didn’t start out how I would’ve liked, but it definitely taught me something. You have to be ready right from the get-go.”
He’ll be ready from the get-go this year, from the sounds of things.
Drafted eighth overall by the Penguins in 2012, the blue liner has played in just 56 regular season NHL games since going pro within Pittsburgh’s system in 2013, putting up two goals and 14 points along the way. An alumnus of the Portland Winterhawks, that’s far from the production he displayed while skating in the WHL – with 45 points in 44 games his final year of major juniors, it’s reasonable to assume that he wants to see things go differently.
For Pittsburgh, that would be the best-case scenario. The cap-strapped team will need him to step up in the coming seasons, particularly as they price themselves out of help on the blue line.
If his optimistic comments mean anything, though, he’s ready for the challenge.
The upcoming 2016-17 season will begin on October 12th.