Derrick Pouliot was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and was their top pick during the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft. The draft was held in Pittsburgh on Friday evening.
“I had just pure excitement when I was called up to the stage,” said Pouliot, a former Weyburn athlete. “Nobody knew what was going to happen, so it was a little bit surreal.”
Pouliot is one of a trio of top offensive defencemen that were chosen in the draft’s first round, the others being Morgan Rielly and Matt Dumba. Derrick came into the draft ranked 12th among North American skaters, but the Penguins used the eighth overall pick from a deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It is exciting to see all these guys go through, the Penguins will have a lot of d-men,” said Pouliot. “The others guys that they picked are good players.”
Pouliot, 18, spent the last two seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, playing in the Western Hockey League. He’s one of the draft’s most offensively-gifted defencemen.
There were a total of 32 WHL players who were drafted to NHL teams this year.
For Derrick, there is still room to improve and strengthen before starting a new season with the Penguins. “I will be working out a lot over the summer, and there is a development camp in Portland I want to attend.
Pouliot noted that he will be spending most of his summer back in his home town, Weyburn. He is not sure if he will be starting in the 2012-13 season, but said that he would be more than happy to return back to Portland before being called up to join the Penguins on the ice.
“I have a lot of good friendships in Portland,” noted Derrick. During his season with the Winterhawks, Pouliot finished fifth on the team and second among their defencemen and helped the team reach the WHL Championship series for a second consecutive season.
Remembering his minor hockey days in Weyburn, Pouliot is excited to be pursuing his hockey career to the next level, the National Hockey League. “It is every little kid’s dream to go play for this level, when they start playing minor hockey.”