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2014-15 Season in review: Derrick Pouliot

The Penguins prized prospect makes his professional debut in 2014-15, showing some flashes of greatness

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Age: 21 (January 16, 1994)

Contract Status: Entry level contract, cap hit of $863,333 (AAV: $1,288,333) through 2016-17 season, restricted free agent July 1, 2017

2014-15 Stats






34 (31)


2 (7)

5 (17)

7 (24)

Corsi For %

Corsi Rel %

Goals For %

Zone Start %





38.0% off v. 29.9% def


(AHL box-car stats in parenthesis)

Penguins 2014-15 Defensemen


Most frequent defensive partners


Goals For%

Corsi For%

Total 5v5 time (476:24 for Pouliot)

Robert Bortuzzo




Ben Lovejoy




Rob Scuderi




Pouliot was a very sheltered, protected defenseman, often given low competition and favorable zone starts, and accordingly he did a pretty good job in making sure the puck stayed in the offensive zone. He played decent with Bortuzzo, but even better with Lovejoy, which made it all the more unfortunate that Pouliot was injured for the playoffs. That would also make the Penguins deadline day defensive trades more palatable too, to think of the left-handed Ian Cole as the Simon Despres replacement, and RH Lovejoy as a Bortuzzo replacement even though those replacements were not directly traded for one another.

Anticipated debut

Pouliot had an interesting 34 game NHL rookie season, the Penguins had a myriad of injuries, but they were committed to riding it out with Pouliot. He basically became a regular in February, March, April (playing 26 games) before the injury robbed him of a chance to make his NHL playoff debut.

The Good

Pouliot is the future, and it's fun to see the future grow. Almost every game that Pouliot played in 2015, he looked a little more comfortable, a little steadier, a little stronger. To watch a young player improve his performance was a fun thing. Pouliot displayed a lot of the tools that made him the 8th overall draft pick in 2012; he's a great skater, puck mover and looked good on the power play. All at age 20/21, to make his NHL debut, and not only that but play well enough to be in the team's plans for the playoffs, that's a huge leap in one's first professional season. The sky is the limit in the future for Pouliot.

The Bad

For an offensive minded defenseman (even a rookie), Pouliot's 0.38 points/60 was worst among Penguins defensemen with 11+ games (tied with Rob Scuderi) , which is never good. Pouliot was also only on the ice for 13 GF and 21 GA at 5v5, which was shows a lot of room for improvement. Pouliot was also a +1 in his first 16 games up to Feb 17th, and a -12 in his last 18 games of the season (including -10 in his last 9 games), indicating a lot of goals going in the wrong net as he started to play more and more as injuries set in. That's not an encouraging trend, though there were some factors outside of his control at play too.

GIF of the Year

This was the first period of his first NHL game. Not a bad way to start things out. Unfortunately, though, Pouliot would not score but 1 more goal in the NHL in 33 games, to be expected as he learns and grows at the game's highest level, but he'll always have the memory of a great debut.

Preseason expectations

After not making the NHL team out of training camp, expectations reset a little for Pouliot. I would have hoped that he established himself as a great AHL player, get as much experience as possible and hopefully get a chance to play in the NHL as well. We have to remember he was coming off a shoulder surgery in May 2014, which made his season all the most impressive to be able to play a mostly complete season.


By that metric, the season was a success for Pouliot, as he was a great AHL defenseman, and was on his way to being an NHL regular for the playoffs. Pouliot played most of the Penguins games in the calendar year 2015 and grew and improved every game and practice.


Feel free to vote in the poll below to grade Derrick Pouliot’s season on a scale from 1 to 10. Vote based on your expectations for him coming into the season -- i.e. 1 being "he was incredibly disappointing and I want him out now", 10 being "he was outstanding even beyond my craziest expectations".