A year later, Penguins are pleased with drafted defensemen Maatta, Pouliot
By Josh Yohe
Published: Monday, July 1, 2013, 10:42 p.m.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero insists that his preference is not to trade star defenseman Kris Letang.
If Shero is forced to deal Letang, who has just one year remaining on his contract, he will do so with the knowledge that more potential stars are in his franchise's pipeline.
Defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta are on their way.
“Looking back at last year,” Shero said, “yeah, I'm pretty happy with those two. I think we did very well.”
It remains to be seen when Pouliot and Maatta will make an impact with the Penguins. Both are eligible to return to their junior teams next season, and it is unlikely either will play in the NHL during the 2013-14 season.
But the organization is convinced both will make an impact at some point.
The Penguins believe those two represent a significant portion of their future.
Pouliot was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft. That pick belonged to the Penguins only for a few moments before they made the selection; the Carolina Hurricanes had just parted with it as part of the Jordan Staal trade.
Pouliot, viewed as a pure power-play quarterback, has drawn comparisons to Florida's Brian Campbell and could project as an offensive star.
“We really like how Pouliot can work the power play,” Shero said. “He's just got that great vision.”
Pouliot produced 45 points in 44 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL last season and has averaged nearly a point per game during his past two seasons. He is in the mold of past and present Penguins defensemen — Ryan Whitney, Alex Goligoski and Letang — who excel in the transition game and in the offensive zone.
While Pouliot is considered by many the top prospect in the Penguins' organization, he isn't on the rise like Maatta.
The Penguins acquired Maatta with the 22nd overall selection.
Maatta was considered a top-15 player in the draft, and, in fact, the Penguins had him pegged to be selected long before their 22nd pick.
When he was there, it didn't take them long to race to the podium.
“At 22,” Shero said, “that was a really solid pick.”
Randy Sexton, the Penguins' assistant director of amateur scouting, is pleased with Maatta's progress.
Maatta has emerged as a star, playing alongside another key Penguins prospect in defenseman Scott Harrington, for the Ontario Hockey League powerhouse London Knights.
“Obviously we couldn't have forecasted that Maatta was still going to be there with the 22nd pick,” Sexton said. “It's just that every team has a different philosophy to the draft, so you never really know what might happen. We were happy to get him there, that's for sure.”
Maatta produced 39 points in 58 games while logging huge minutes at London. He and Harrington have become shutdown defensemen under the tutelage of coach Dale Hunter in London.
Although Maatta played three games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL playoffs, at 18 he remains eligible to play in London next season.
“We are delighted with Olli,” Sexton said.
Shero won't project when the duo will be ready for the NHL but remains pleased. Maatta and Pouliot will be present when the Penguins host their rookie camp this month.
“That's going to be a big camp for them,” Shero said. “I love what I see right now.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Twitter.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Neal suspended five games for Marchand hit
- Penguins notebook: Dumoulin gets his chance
- Penguins players are not out looking for fights
- Young defensemen lift Penguins to win
- Penguins notebook: Bennett’s injury potentially serious
- Penguins’ Orpik out; Neal to have phone hearing
- Rossi: Penguins’ Orpik among select NHLers going without gluten
- Jokinen takes center stage as fill-in for Pens’ Malkin
- Penguins have never been better on power play
- Penguins notebook: Malkin only No. 2 star for November