Where Derrick Pouliot Fits Into Kraken’s Lineup

The trade deadline has come and gone, and at least 30 trades were made. The Seattle Kraken made six between the deadline itself and the week leading up to it. They traded away six roster players and brought in two who aren’t guaranteed to make the NHL roster, and a boatload of draft picks.

Derrick Pouliot, Ryan Kesler, Erik Gudbranson
Former Vancouver Canucks’ defenseman Derrick Pouliot moves the puck past former teammate Erik Gudbranson and former Anaheim Ducks’ forward Ryan Kesler (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Amid the smokescreen of trades, general manager Ron Francis made another acquisition. He claimed defenseman Derrick Pouliot off the waiver wire from the Vegas Golden Knights. Let’s get to know a bit about him and take a look at how he will fit in with the Kraken.

Pouliot’s Pre-Kraken Career

Pouliot was drafted eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2012 Entry Draft and came with promise. He had put up 59 points in 72 games during his draft year and continued his above point-per-game production rate through his next two seasons with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Portland Winterhawks.

He made it to the Ed Chynoweth Cup in four straight seasons, but only won the WHL’s championship once. He scored 73 points in 85 playoff games. Following the 2013-14 season where he scored 22 goals and 102 points in 79 games between the regular season and playoffs, he made the jump to pro. 

He spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins, having stints of at least 31 games with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins throughout, before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks. He saw his only two full-NHL seasons with the Canucks, scoring six goals and 34 points in 133 games. 

Since the 2019-20 season began, he’s only played in four NHL games, registering an assist, and has split time between three different AHL clubs. This season, prior to being snagged by the Kraken, he recorded an assist in two games with the Golden Knights and 19 points in 42 games with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights.

Where Pouliot Fits With the Kraken

The Kraken traded away two defensemen, captain Mark Giordano and Jeremy Lauzon, who each played over 50 games in their inaugural season. However, Pouliot’s addition still sees there being seven defensemen on the roster. While Will Borgen has seen just 17 games, head coach Dave Hakstol’s questionable lineup decisions with their forward corps may sneak into the blue line, and he may not see much ice.

Related: Kraken Trade Deadline Recap & Grades

While the two didn’t put up exorbitant offensive numbers, the Kraken will be looking for someone to make up for the power play time lost in Giordano’s exit. While many could argue that it should be Haydn Fleury that steps into that role, Pouliot does have NHL power-play experience; seeing over 72-minutes in three seasons, including 84:40 in just 33 games during his rookie year for the Penguins.

He could find himself anywhere in this lineup. It really depends on who Hakstol will scratch on any given night. Likely, he will be on the second/third pair, or as a seventh-defenseman.  Given his AHL experience, there’s a chance he could find himself down with the Charlotte Checkers; especially if the Kraken brass wants to give Cale Fleury another stint in the NHL after playing just two games this season. He has 28 points in 54 AHL games.

Cale Fleury Montreal Canadiens
Cale Fleury, former Montreal Canadiens defenseman, has spent most of his professional career in the AHL (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Given the state of the Kraken, and the fact that he’s on an expiring deal, Pouliot needs to find a way to make an impact at either level. The 28-year-old, left-shot defenseman will really need to impress down the stretch to earn a contract for this upcoming season. Whether or not it’s with the Kraken remains to be seen as he will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Was Claiming Pouliot a Hit or a Miss?

Francis hit on this one. In the worst case, Pouliot doesn’t perform well at, or even make it to, the NHL level and they let him walk at the end of the season. They have the cap space as it is, and he’s on a very cheap contract.

Derrick Pouliot Canucks
Derrick Pouliot, former Vancouver Canucks defenseman, Nov. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the best case, he becomes a steady contributor at either level. In the AHL, he could use his over 400 professional hockey games of experience to mentor younger players. If they see a prospect like Ryker Evans make the jump following his WHL season, it could prove beneficial.

Related: Seattle Kraken 2021-22 Three-Quarter-Season Superlatives

Two of the biggest things to look for coming out of the trade deadline are roster moves and ice time allocation for the Kraken. The questions are, who gets called up to fill the holes left by trading out roster players, and of those players, who will see adequate ice time? Only time will tell and it may also shed a light on Francis’ offseason plans for some players in the process.

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