Penguins not to blame for Pouliot’s lack of development
As Derrick Pouliot was re-assigned again this morning, his lack of development is reaching the point where it now falls on his shoulders.
Nearing the end of his 3rd professional season, he’s just not an NHL defenseman yet and that’s the reality of the situation.
Pouliot was taken 8th overall in the 2012 draft and was No. 4 on the Penguins board because the amateur scouts in the organization believed he was a special offensive defenseman. Penguin scouts were so giddy when the trade was made and Pouliot was still on the board you would have thought the Penguins landed Erik Karlsson.
The long-term problem isn’t that Pouliot can’t play his own end well enough at the NHL level. He was never expected to be a strong defensive player. The issue is there’s not even much to like from a skill standpoint that screams legit NHL player.
Some will say you can’t judge a draft until seven to eight years. It’s fair to say already the Penguins badly miscalculated with the selection of Pouliot but that’s not the point anymore.
No team is perfect with the development of their young players but this organization has tried almost everything to get the most out of Pouliot and the poor body language from Pouliot nearly every time he’s been called up is having some in the organization counting down the days until Pouliot is a member of another organization.
The Penguins, though, publicly will continue to say all the right things as Mike Sullivan did this morning.
“Derrick is in the process,” said Sullivan. “We still believe in him. We believe he’s a good player. He’s a talented player. This is part of the process as a young player. Some players’ learning curves are faster than others. Playing defense in this league is the hardest position to play. The adjustment for a young defenseman is the most difficult. Derrick is just going through the process.”
PENGUINS LINEUP TALK
— The Penguins going back to Matt Murray tonight after Fleury posted a shutout Sunday afternoon is not surprising because in the coaches eyes Murray remains the clear No. 1. One source close to the situation said since Murray didn’t get the next start after shutting out Vancouver on March 11, it was pretty much a guarantee Murray would go tonight and that it would been a bad look not to go back to your No. 1 following Fleury’s shutout on Sunday.
That said, from a perception standpoint, If Murray struggles tonight the noise will keep getting louder from pundits.
What matters, though, is that a great four game run from Fleury hasn’t changed anything internally and Penguin coaches have made it a point not to make the goaltending situation a controversy inside the room right before the playoffs start.
Fleury has not made consecutive starts since 12/31/16 vs Montreal and 1/8/17 vs Tampa Bay when Murray was injured.
— The organization is excited about Frank Corrado and feel there’s some untapped ability they can get out of him. The Penguins believe he could compete for a depth role out of training camp next season. He’s not in the Penguins plans this season with the NHL club but a nice opportunity for him tonight to get his feet wet with the big club.
The call up today was unexpected but with Penguin coaches wanting to get Pouliot back to Wilkes Barre, it opened the door for Corrado to come up.
Will Bylsma make it to year 3 with Buffalo?
— Year two as coach of the Buffalo Sabres for Dan Bylsma was supposed to be a season of growth for the Sabres where some believed they could be a 90+ point team and push for a playoff spot.
Despite getting .922 save percentage goaltending from Robin Lehner and having the NHL’s best power play, the Sabres are again near the basement of the Eastern Conference and destined for a top-10 pick.
Bylsma hasn’t brought an offensive brand of hockey to the table. Buffalo is one of the NHL’s worst 5 v 5 scoring teams and have terrible possession numbers.
Ray Shero and Bylsma are in similar situations with their respective clubs.
New Jersey and Buffalo have each been passed up by other rebuilding teams in their division by wide margins, Columbus in the Metro and Toronto in the Atlantic.
Now for both you have to wonder if either will still be around when or if the Devils/Sabres become playoff teams. Shero is not on the hot seat and has great support of the Devils ownership group for now, but Bylsma’s chances of returning behind the Sabres bench are said to be 50-50 at best, per league sources, as the latest scuttlebutt is the Sabres made an attempt weeks ago to hire Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"