With the Islanders seemingly turning a corner as an organization, one player whose future with the organization is unclear is net-minder Kevin Poulin. At 25 now, it is no longer where you are able to say wait til next year regarding his development. It is time for Poulin to put his stamp out and show that he belongs or it might be time for the Islanders to move on.
Short Lived Success
Poulin made his NHL debut in the 2010/2011 season for the Islanders. In 10 games that season, he had a 2.44 GAA and a .924 save percentage and caused fans and some others to think the Islanders had found their goalie of the future. However, then disaster cast its evil eye on the Islanders once again. During warm-ups for a game he was scheduled to start, Poulin suffered a severe leg injury due to issues with the ice. I remember arriving at the Coliseum for that game and just being stunned in the concourse when I heard the news. We all thought, not again! Since then, Poulin has not been able to return to anything near that level of play at the NHL or even AHL level.
Tough Few Years
Since his early success, Poulin has struggled immensely at both the NHL and AHL levels. While it may not all be on his as he has had some poor teams in front of him in that time, it is certainly not a coincidence. This most recent season had been the closest Poulin has come to getting near that level of success. In 45 games for Bridgeport last season, Poulin had a 2.87 GAA and a .912 save percentage. While not horrible by any stretch, definitely not great either especially given the expectations Poulin put on himself due to his early success. Just two seasons ago, Poulin formed 1/3 of the worst goaltending combo in the NHL alongside Evgeni Nabokov and Anders Nilsson. With Nabokov retired, and Nilsson over seas Poulin is the only one left from that triad. Poulin is hanging on by a thread though.
Competition A Good Thing?
Poulin is no stranger to competition having competed with the likes of Anders Nilsson, Mikko Koskinen, and Evgeni Nabokov over the years here for playing time just to name a few. This season will be no different as Poulin is expected to compete with rookie Stephen Williams who is expected to join Bridgeport on a full time basis. In 35 games for Minnesota State last season, Williams had a 1.65 GAA and a .925 save percentage. He also managed to get into five games for Bridgeport as well last season and put up good numbers in that small sample size. In those five starts, Williams had a 2.12 GAA and a .936 save percentage. While he is competing with a rookie, it doesn’t look like Williams will be easy competition if those numbers are any indication.
What will Happen with Poulin?
Ultimately, what will happen with the Islanders former 4th round pick? I expect Poulin to be around a little while longer until some of the younger goalies come up from college or the AHL. However, I never expect to see him make a serious impact because I believe at this point we have seen what he is. He is a goalie who is capable every so often but far too inconsistent to be a starter in this league night in and night out.