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Penguins recall defenseman Derrick Pouliot, but why?

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The Pittsburgh Penguins make a call up of a young defenseman with NHL and AHL roster implications.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled defenseman Derrick Pouliot today. On the surface, no big deal, in fact even a positive for the young, talented defenseman to presumably get a crack at another chance to play NHL minutes after a rocky third pro season.

However, here's our recap of what general manager Jim Rutherford said last week:

Despite all the injuries, you won't be seeing Derrick Pouliot in the NHL soon either. Rutherford said they want him to have all the time possible in the AHL for development and seemed to hint that the Penguins had rushed Pouliot to the NHL too quickly in the past and that has hurt his development overall. I suppose we'll see how that goes, but the organization doesn't seem that high, at all, as Pouliot as any sort of NHL option right now

With today also being the NHL trade deadline, eyebrows are raised. Is this part of a bigger plan? That remains to be seen. The Penguins certainly don't need to recall Pouliot to trade him, so why did they make this move today so soon after saying his development is better suited in the AHL at this point?

As always Mike Colligan chimes in with two cents that add clarity:

However, the NHL trade deadline also has implications for the AHL roster for the rest of the season

So, the Penguins have effectively locked Pouliot in the NHL for the rest of this season. Seems like quite the odd move considering that Kris Letang is day-to-day (and back possibly as soon as next game) and the team is actively looking to add a defenseman before the trade deadline. Bigger picture, once Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley return to the lineup, there's really no room at all for Pouliot to get playing time in the NHL for the rest of the season, and certainly none in the playoff time.

What good is his development if he's back in healthy scratch territory in the NHL rather than playing in the AHL?

We'll have to reserve judgement until we see what the plan is. And, let's remember last night the Penguins played an NHL roster that included Cameron Gaunce and Chad Ruhwedel. With all due respect to them (especially Gaunce who's had a rougher go of things lately), why not play Pouliot? That makes sense.

But not in the context of what Rutherford just said about Pouliot's development.

UPDATE: Through a paper transaction, Pouliot is still eligible for the AHL, so that clears that up and is a positive. But with the trade additions of Mark Streit, Ron Hainsey and Frankie Corrado in the past week it still looks like his place in the NHL is blocked.