The Vancouver Canucks have a number of player personnel decisions to make going into the 2019-20 season. One of the easiest figured to be the fate of restricted free agent defenceman Derrick Pouliot.
From the outside, there seemed to be little to no chance the Canucks brought the rearguard back for a third season with Vancouver.
While he was decent in his first campaign with the Canucks, he struggled mightily last year, recording 12 points in 62 games while often being healthy scratched by the club.
He was a turnover machine, and in the second half of the season he only got into the lineup when one of the team’s regular left-handed blueliners was injured.
So it wasn't a surprise when Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal reported today that the Canucks will do what many predicted and allow him to become a free agent on July 1.
In fact, it's the second major offseason move made by the Canucks, preceded only by the decision to re-sign young goaltender Thatcher Demko.
It ends an up-and-down tenure with the Canucks and begs the question of whether another NHL team will scoop him up. After all, when the Canucks acquired Pouliot for Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round draft pick, he was spending a lot of time with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL franchise, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
And it should be noted that the Pens were dealing with many injuries to their defence core at the time. The fact Pouliot couldn’t crack the roster was something of a red flag.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning, of course, has a reputation for taking chances on players with high draft pedigrees that aren’t working out with their current teams. As the eighth overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Pouliot certainly qualified for that designation. But he hadn’t played more than 34 games in a single season with Pittsburgh. He suited up for 133 contests with the Canucks over two seasons.
He’ll likely be scooped up by a team on the cheap, but he’s no guarantee to start the season in the league, and a two-way deal paving the way for him to play in the AHL wouldn’t be a surprise at all.
After two seasons with the Canucks, there’s not enough evidence that he’s an everyday NHL player.
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