A perceived throw-in to the trade that brought the 8th-overall pick (Derrick Pouliot) and Brandon Sutter to Pittsburgh in exchange for Jordan Staal, Brian Dumoulin went from being the second-best prospect in Carolina's excellent D prospect pool to perhaps the sixth-best defensive prospect in the Penguins' organization.
Quite a change in pecking order for the highly decorated NCAA product.
In his first professional season, Dumoulin will skate alongside his contemporaries in Wilkes-Barre Scranton. Joe Morrow and Simon Despres figure to highlight the AHL group, while prospect veterans Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo will also be a part of the WBS top-six.
Pittsburgh has stockpiled mobile defensemen in the last few drafts, especially given the synergy of uptempo puck-retrieval systems used at each level of the Penguins organization. While Dumoulin has the ability to start plays out of the defensive zone and the skating required to keep up with the Penguins' speedy NHL roster, it's his size and positional play that make him stand out amongst the prospect pool and which will perhaps make him the replacement to the sorely missed stay-at-home defense of fellow Boston College grad Rob Scuderi.
Dumoulin was selected with the 51st overall pick of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes as an 18 year old, the summer before his first season with Boston College.
After three seasons with the Eagles in which he posted 11 goals, 83 points and an eye-popping plus-87 rating in 123 games, Dumoulin signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Hurricanes in April 2012 before being traded to Pittsburgh in July.
Dumoulin only played three seasons with the BC Eagles before joining the Penguins professional ranks this summer, yet was still able to carve out an impressive list of accolades in those years.
In addition to compiling a monstrous plus-87 rating and winning two National Championships (2011, 2012) with the Eages, Dumoulin was named to the NCAA East First All-American Team (2011, 2012), the NCAA Frozen Four All-Tournament Team (2010, 2012) and the 2009 Hockey East All-Rookie Team, in addition to being named a Hockey East First-Team All-Star (2011, 2012) and the Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman (2011, 2012).
The accolades reflected what Dumoulin's teammates saw him bring to the ice each night.
"He does everything well," BC captain Tommy Cross said. "He's our top shutdown guy and he's our top offensive D-man, too. He does so much right and he's found a way to get better every year."
Dumoulin was also named a Hobey Baker finalist in 2011-12, awarded annually to College Hockey's best overall player.
Dumoulin is a big body but plays an everyman type of game, providing steady contributions at both ends of the rink. Not outstanding in any particular area, he has proven to be above average in all areas, making him very comparable to Simon Despres and projecting him to be a complementary second-pairing talent down the road.
This is a good place to turn it over to the folks who know prospects best.
The first thing you’ll notice about Dumoulin is his skating. Despite his large stature, Dumoulin is extremely fluid and is a technician in all three zones. Dumoulin plays a very safe and cerebral style of hockey. As we previously mentioned, he’s capable of pretty much anything on the blueline. He can chip in offensively, distribute the puck, and take care of his own end with a decent sense of physicality and positioning. He played in the EJHL for one year prior to arriving at Boston College. Dumoulin was a shocking +90 in his career at Boston College, a testament to his ability to play at both ends of the ice.
Dumoulin’s window to the pro’s is short. The Penguins are acquiring him as he decided to forego his senior year of college and turn pro. Dumoulin is a player that, with his experience and poise, might even be able to play a game or two in the NHL later this year if the Penguins find themselves in a pinch. Drafted 51 overall by the Hurricanes in 2009, Dumoulin brings a bag of tricks with him to Pittsburgh that fans in WB/S will really enjoy watching next year.
A big, talented defensemen and a proven winner at the NCAA level, Brian Dumoulin possesses the smooth skating stride of a player much smaller than 6'4, 219 pounds. Though not known as an overly physical player, Dumoulin possesses the strength, size, and balance to keep the front of the net clear of traffic. The defensemen is also an adept puck-mover with a hard point shot. Conducting himself with great confidence on and off the ice, Dumoulin possesses numerous traits which suggest he could develop into a reliable top-four defenseman in the NHL, most notably his ability to quickly retrieve the puck and move it up ice.
Dumoulin will start the 2012-13 season in the AHL where he will likely play in a second or third pairing. Long-term, the blueliner projects as a potential top-four defender capable of playing in all situations.
HockeysFuture.com gives Dumoulin a 7.0 Prospect Talent Score, which it defines as a number 3-4 defenseman "still possessing enough talent to ... defend with some authority," listing NHL defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Christian Ehrhoff as comparables.
The site also gives him a grade of "B" in its Probability of Success metric, which estimates how likely a player is to reach his potential. The B grade means Dumoulin is very likely to reach his potential, a good score if not that of a can't-miss prospect.
Dumoulin's time in Boston College ought to help him realize his potential, however, as the Eagles run a pro-style gameplan that very closely mimics the ones used by Dan Bylsma, John Hynes and the rest of the Penguins organization.
Q. You had quite the career at Boston College – two-time national champion, two-time All-American, two-time Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman, Hobey Baker finalist. How much did you develop as a player during your three seasons there?
A. A ton, and that’s one thing good about coach Jerry York’s system is that it’s like professional hockey. You’re very accountable but he’s not always on us, you kind of have your own freedom. The style we play is similar to Pittsburgh, so that can only help the transition to the NHL level.
The Penguins have paid a lot of attention to synergy in recent years. D prospects Joe Morrow (2011 draft) and Derrick Pouliot (2012) played together in WHL Portland, while Scott Harrington (2011) and Olli Maata (2012) both currently play for the London Knights of the OHL.
As has been mentioned, the Penguins very intentionally employ the same systems and philosophies at all professional levels. Given BC's pro style game and its similarities to Penguins hockey, Dumoulin figures to adapt quickly to his first season of professional hockey in Wilkes-Barre.
As we mentioned with Joe Morrow's Prospect Profile, this will be up in the air for as long as the current NHL Lockout continues.
For now, Dumoulin survived the last round of AHL roster cuts that sent a number of players to Wheeling of the ECHL (the WBS roster is unusually bloated due to the lockout). He'll be competing with Morrow, Despres, Strait, Bortuzzo, Philip Samuelsson, Carl Sneep and Dylan Reese for playing time, all of whom have previous professional experience.
The Penguins have a great deal of NHL-caliber talent in the pipeline, and their current NHL defense makes it so that even Despres and Morrow would have trouble getting any ice time in Pittsburgh this season. In most other organizations, Dumoulin might be NHL-ready before the end of the year.
Most of Pittsburgh's current NHL defensemen are signed to deals that expire in the next few years and perhaps only Harrington and Maatta, both much younger, project to be as defensively adept as Dumoulin. Given the team's expiring contracts and the need for a still-at-large shutdown defenseman, Dumoulin could be an NHL regular as soon as next season.