LATEST PENS RUMBLINGS
Derrick Pouliot last year in 34 regular season games:
2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points (4 EVP) and a minus-11 rating.
The advance stats were promising but Pouliot was far from a polished product, as expected.
Over the final couple months of the season, the latter of the games forced into a top-4 role due to injuries, Pouliot struggled mightily in his own end.
At even strength Pouliot was on the ice for 10 even strength goals for and 20 against over his last 20 games.
The Penguins have pushed Pouliot this summer to bulk up and train more like a professional hockey player this summer. All indications are he has and while there are high expectations for him inside the organization, there also a crowd in upper management who believe Pouliot will still benefit from time in the minors after starting last season on the shelf due to off-season shoulder surgery.
With training camp a month away I asked a high ranking source on Wednesday if Pouliot is penciled in as one of the Penguins top-6 defensemen and the answer was “no.”
“We have an open mind on Derrick,” the source said. “We can be patient”
One reason the Penguins can be patient, a log jam of waiver eligible defensemen.
The way management see’s it, the only locks for a regular spot right now are Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Ian Cole and Brian Dumoulin, per a source close to the situation.
Everything is open from whether one of Ben Lovejoy or Rob Scuderi are even on the team by October, the Penguins thought they had a deal to move Lovejoy to an Eastern Conference team last week that fell through, and the team believes both Tim Erixon and Adam Clendening can come into camp and earn roster spots, notably Clendening.
The acquisition of Clendening, a puck moving defenseman who scouts say has a great knack for jumping up in the play, (a staple in Mike Johnston’s system) has gone under the radar and I’m told Johnston see’s excellent upside in Clendening fitting his system.
Clendening being a right handed shot will also be valued by the staff and the thinking process from some in the organization right now is Clendening with a strong camp could push Pouliot, who doesn’t have to clear waivers, down to Wilkes Barre to start the season which won’t be a bad thing in the long run.
Clendening put up big numbers in the AHL in 2013-2014 with 59 points in 74 games.
“Still a young guy, has a good offensive skill level,” Jim Rutherford said. “We feel there’s a good upside to him.”