2012 NHL Draft Selections' Strong Beginning to the 2012-13 Season
With the exception of three second round picks (Nic Kerdiles---Anaheim, # 36 overall; Brian
Hart--Tampa Bay, #53 overall; and Jordan Martinook--Phoenix, # 58 overall), all of the 2012
first and second round selections have seen action early in the 2012-13 season. Had there not
been an NHL lockout, several of these players would be skating for NHL teams, but, at this time,
of the 60 players selected in the first two rounds, 31 are currently playing in the CHL, 14 on
college teams, 9 are in Europe, and 6 are skating for AHL teams.
Several players in each of the CHL, Europe, the NCAA and AHL have quickly jumped out of the
gate. Of particular interest are the players mentioned below. All stats include games through the
October 22, 2012.
Pouliot set career-highs with 11 goals and 48 assists for 59 points in 72 games last season, as he finished fourth in league scoring among all defensemen. Pouliot added three goals and 14 assists for 17 points in 22 playoff games, tying for the league lead in playoff scoring among defensemen with teammate Joe Morrow, who was a first round draft pick (23rd overall) of the Penguins in 2011.
The Penguins acquired the eighth pick in the draft in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on draft night.
"Signing a pro contract is a big step for a player and we're very excited for Derrick. He's worked incredibly hard to get to this point, but he also knows this is just the beginning," said Portland Winterhawks General Manager & Head Coach Mike Johnston.
Pouliot was the fifth Winterhawk taken in the first round in the last three years, following Sven Bartschi (Calgary) and Morrow (Pittsburgh) in 2011, and Ryan Johansen (Columbus) and Nino Niederreiter (New York islanders) in 2010. He also became the 26th first round pick in team history. It marked the first time the team had players taken in the first round in three straight years since 1978-1983, when the Winterhawks had first round picks in six consecutive years.
The Winterhawks drafted Pouliot first overall in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft.
Season tickets and 20-, 12- and 6-game ticket packages for the 2012-13 season are on sale now. Visit winterhawks.com or call 503-236-HAWK to reserve the best seat locations.
It isn’t easy to stand out offensively on a team that led the Western Hockey League in goals by a whopping 18 and boasts two 2011 first-round draft picks, but Derrick Pouliot of the Portland Winterhawks proved to be a unique prospect even as a 16-year-old rookie.
The 5-foot-11, 187-pound Pouliot notched 30 points (five goals, 25 assists) in his first WHL season and exploded for 59 (11 goals, 48 assists) this year, good for fourth in the league in scoring amongst defensemen and forcing every NHL team to take notice.
“This year I’ve had a lot more confidence,” Pouliot says.“I’ve been able to step into a bigger role on this team, maybe become a bit more of a leader.I’ve been sharpening up things in my game every day.Last year I learned what it took to play in this league and this year I was a little more prepared for it.”
Pouliot’s offensive ability has never been in question, but his defensive zone play has drawn criticism in the past.
Credit the Weyburn, Saskatchewan native for being well aware of his weaknesses, for Pouliot has spent his sophomore campaign paying close attention to his defensive play while still racking up points by the bundle.
“I know you have to be able to play in both ends of the rink,” Pouliot says.“It’s better this year, I’ve worked on finishing guys in the corners, closing on guys quick, being more intense, having more energy out there, making sure that I don’t give up any scoring chances against.I think I’ve improved a lot this year with that…I want that to be as good as my offensive game.”
Pouliot’s improved defense is the primary reason he’s held in such high regard by Hockey Prospect and why his draft stock has been on the rise.
"It's always nice to see a player improve any area of their game,” HP’s Mark Edwards says.“Derrick has done a good job improving his defensive game which only helps his cause as the draft approaches."
Pouliot drew rave reviews for his play in the CHL Top Prospects Game and has another opportunity to impress NHL scouts during the Winterhawks’ playoff run.Though Portland boasts such high scoring prospects as Sven Bartschi and Ty Rattie, Pouliot and Joe Morrow lead a potent two-way rearguard that was instrumental in propelling the Winterhawks to a third-place finish in the WHL’s Western Conference and may be the key to Portland’s playoff hopes.
The recent firsthand draft-year experience of Bartschi, Rattie and Morrow has had a calming influence on Pouliot, who has the advantage of knowledgeable predecessors over many of his competitors.
“Seeing those guys and asking them about it kind of prepares you for what you might go through,” Pouliot says.“I kind of know what to expect and it’s exciting, it’s exciting to hear them talk about it and it’s even more exciting to go through it.”
Even in a draft loaded with capable defenders, few possess the pure offensive talent of Pouliot.He already has a reputation for being a dynamic power play quarterback, strong skater and excellent puck mover and if his defensive game continues to improve, he could end up being the best of the bunch.