Derrick Pouliot has struggled to find solid footing in the NHL, and the 22-year-old hit another bump in the road when he fell injured in his season debut Thursday.
The hope in Pittsburgh was that this would be the season that 2012 first-round pick Derrick Pouliot found his way into a full-time role and made an impact on the Penguins’ blueline. If that’s going to be the case, though, it’s going to have to come after Pouliot returns from injury.
Pouliot got his first crack at the lineup Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, and after playing 12:29 and registering one shot on goal through the first two periods of the contest, Pouliot was forced out of the remainder of the game with an undisclosed injury. Post-game, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he had no information about the injury to Pouliot, and the outlook doesn’t look good for the young rearguard.
It was announced Friday that Pouliot has been placed on injured reserve, and Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he expects the 22-year-old to be sidelined for more than just a game or two.
"It's going to be a while," Jim Rutherford said, according to DKPittsburghSports’ Seth Rorabaugh. "I don't know if they've put an actual projection on it as we speak but it's going to be a while."
Pouliot falling injured so early in this campaign makes for another bump in the road for the youngster, who has had big expectations surrounding him since being drafted eighth overall by the Penguins in 2012.
It took until the 2014-15 campaign for Pouliot to make his debut in the league, but he has found himself bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL for much of the past two seasons. In fact, Pouliot has seen a near equal split of time between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scrantion, the home of the Penguins’ AHL affiliate, but he hasn’t been able to translate his minor league performance to the big club.
In 57 NHL games, Pouliot has just two goals and 14 points and hasn’t been given a role as much more than a third-pairing or seventh defenseman, averaging less than 15:30 of ice time during the 2015-16 season. In the AHL, Pouliot has been much more successful, notching 14 goals and 47 points in 68 games while steadily skating top-four minutes.
With Pouliot sidelined, the Penguins have brought 26-year-old David Warsofsky up from the AHL. Warsofsky skated in 12 games with Pittsburgh in 2015-16, scoring one goal and averaging 17:45.
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