The Vancouver Canucks took a chance and traded for Derrick Pouliot, who never lived up to expectations with the Pittsburgh Penguins. So far, he’s been much better than anyone could have expected.
Days before their 2017-18 season began, the Vancouver Canucks traded for Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Derrick Pouliot, sending back Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round selection in return. Pouliot — the eighth overall draft choice in 2012 — struggled in Pittsburgh and simply needed a fresh start.
And a fresh start with the Canucks may have been all Pouliot needed to salvage his career. The Canucks probably didn’t envision Pouliot playing a big role in 2017-18, because when they traded for him, Alexander Edler and Troy Stecher were healthy.
Indeed, Pouliot has had to play a big role for the Canucks — and he’s excelled while doing it. He and Chris Tanev have played excellent shutdown roles, helping the Canucks start out 8-5-2 while sitting third in the Pacific Division through their first 15 games.
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Though Brock Boeser, Derek Dorsett and Jacob Markstrom have been turning all the heads, Pouliot is quietly putting together a fairly impressive season on the blue line. That is, if you look past the mere three assists he has in 12 games.
Pouliot has an ultra-impressive 57.4 Corsi For percentage this season, according to Hockey Reference, and that’s while averaging just 16:03 time on ice per game.
When Pouliot is on the ice during 5-on-5 play, the Canucks are simply a much better team. His Relative Corsi rating is a +2.3, according to Corsica.com. This means the Canucks simply have much better puck possession stats when Pouliot is on the ice, compared to when he’s not on the ice.
Pouliot’s Goals For Percentage is 62.5, and his Expected Goals For Percentage is 51.88, per Corsica. These stats suggest the Canucks are much more likely to score when Pouliot is on the ice, and that his linemates are going to have bigger impacts.
So even though he isn’t scoring all that much, Pouliot is still helping the Canucks generate far more scoring chances when he’s out there. When he’s on the bench, Vancouver is more likely to be scored on, and their puck possession numbers take a bad hit.
Pouliot was instrumental in shutting down the Pittsburgh Penguins’ high-flying offence on Saturday. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel were held in check throughout the game. Days before that, he and Tanev were limiting the chances by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars . Simply put: Pouliot is playing the shutdown defenceman role, and near-perfectly.
It is still early in the season, and Pouliot will lose significant ice time when Edler and Stecher return. But considering how little he cost general manager Jim Benning in a trade, Derrick Pouliot has more than surpassed expectations during his short tenure with the Vancouver Canucks thus far. Without him, the Canucks wouldn’t be in the playoff race so early in the season.