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Insider Only Is Mike Johnston starting to see the reality that Derrick Pouliot isn’t ready?


Derrick Pouliot is not ready for the NHL and has no business to start the season with the big club. That’s something I’ve been saying for over a month now and many outside of Pittsburgh feel the same way.

Is Mike Johnston who loves Pouliot and has coached Pouliot for six seasons starting to see the light?

After being on the ice for three goals against vs the Blue Jackets and continued struggles with his reads and gap control, Johnston was not sugar coating the situation when he said Pouliot is not a “regular NHL player.”

“He’s not a regular NHL player,” Johnston said following the 4-2 loss to the Blue Jackets. “He’s a guy who’s played games.”

Johnston knows Pouliot better than anybody and this might be a tactic to push Pouliot but the guess here is no.

Johnston is one of the most intelligent hockey people out there. There’s no way he can look at Pouliot and feel he’s ready to contribute on a regular basis, because he’s not.

And you have to wonder if Johnston is thinking in reality that a slow start to this season and in this division, he’ll be out of a job by December. That is the reality of the situation. There’s going to be no free passes this season for Johnston, one of the NHL’s lowest paid coaches, in year two.

He’s not in position to let Pouliot learn the NHL game if there are six other better options right now.

Everyone wants to run him out of town because of the cap hit and poor analytics but Rob Scuderi is the Penguins fourth or fifth best option on the backend right now. That’s where things really are with this group.

What was telling with Johnston’s evaluation of Pouliot Saturday afternoon was being critical of the areas Pouliot should be better at, notably the transition game and moving the puck.

“The first period, he wasn’t getting to loose pucks quick,” Johnston said. “The other thing about his game that I see is he’s Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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