FlamesNation Prospect Profile: #13 Emile Poirier

FN13

In our 2015 prospect profiles, Emile Poirier came third in our voting. A lot has changed over the past year, though: from another good draft, to some solid trades, to, quite frankly, a poor season by him. It’s all come together to see him come in a lot lower.

Perhaps gone are the raised expectations. That’s no cause for concern just yet, though: Poirier is only 21 years old, and still has two more years on his entry level deal. While it may seem as though time is running out – and the clock is definitely ticking, as it is on pretty much everyone – there’s no cause for panic.

Poirier comes in at #13 in this year’s FlamesNation Prospect Profile.

A brief history

The Flames selected Poirier 22nd overall back in the 2013 draft. He was their second pick after Sean Monahan. Notable names to come after him? Well, Andre Burakovsky and Hunter Shinkaruk came immediately after: one of whom has already made the NHL, and the other guy the Flames traded for and seems to have already surpassed him.

Let’s not mince words here: the 6’2, 196 lb. winger did not have a good sophomore campaign. He scored just 29 points in 60 games; as a rookie in the AHL, he scored 42 in 55. He was also second in the team in scoring during his first season, albeit one point behind the leader in 12 fewer games played. In 2015-16, he fell all the way to sixth, 28 points back of the team leader. So hopefully 2016-17 sees a return to form – because he kind of needs it to.

Read more: FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Emile Poirier

Quotable

Poirier’s coach, Ryan Huska, would know better than anyone (other than Poirier himself) just what happened in his 2015-16 campaign. We had the chance to ask him a couple of questions about what Poirier needs to do to raise his stock once again.

“I think there really needs to be a real push from him almost to say, ‘I know where I’m at right now and I need to make some serious changes,’ in regards to how he plays the game. I believe Emile has the ability to take games over, and as you mentioned there’s always people coming from behind with Tkachuk, Janko, Shinkaruk now. There’s a lot of different people that are coming pushing for spots, so now’s the time where Emile really has to elevate. I think over the course of our year he became a better defender. I think he has a better idea how to play away from the puck, but we want to make sure that he understands that part of his responsibility moving forward is to generate some offence because he does have that ability in him.”

Future Considerations scout Scott Wheeler can see both positive and negatives to Poirier’s game: positives that will hopefully get him to the show, but negatives that indicate he may not be a high-end player after all.

“Poirier is the kind of player who needs someone who can get him the puck. With the Heat, he didn’t necessarily have that. He’s got some snarl and he’s an elite skater, but he’s a linear player who is limited by a lack of high end skill. Despite his standout skating, and impressive junior career, he may be relegated to a depth role if he ever makes the jump. He’ll need to have a huge year this season and a big training camp the following year if that’s going to happen. Unlike most young players, skating won’t be a concern — ever.”

You can’t play if you can’t skate.

Huska, meanwhile, has his expectations for Poirier over this offseason pretty clear:

“It’s not just with our group. My hope for him is he has a terrific summer and he’s going to push for a spot with Calgary. For a lot of these guys, the way they start their very first practice or their first time they step on the ice, a lot of times that dictates how the next couple months are going to go so it’s real important that he does a lot of the work this summer and from what I understand when I’ve talked to him and what people are saying he’s working very hard this summer because he wants to make a great impression on Glen and the new staff in Calgary as well.”

What comes next?

Poirier already has something that separates him from most of the other Flames prospects hoping to make the show: a lower number. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything – we’ve seen prospects receive lower numbers and flame out before – but it does help show more is expected of him.

In fact, Brad Treliving is hoping Poirier will be one of the kids helping make the Flames’ camp that much more competitive.

Read more: Emile Poirier will have to be protected for expansion draft

Let’s not forget where Poirier is coming from, in spite of his lacklustre season. He was the top scorer on his junior Gatineau Olympiques in both his draft and draft+1 seasons, first by 16, and then by 25 points. In terms of points per game, he was the top player on the Heat in his rookie professional season. 

The 2015-16 season is the only blip on the radar at this point. It could be a harbinger of doom, as it’s the most recent data at the highest level he’s regularly played at, but unless the circumstances repeat themselves, that shouldn’t necessarily be the expectation.

Besides – consider the purge to the Flames’ minor system this offseason. Only one Heat player who scored more than Poirier, Fredde Hamilton, will be returning. Poirier may not have had a ton of help on a Heat team that struggled to score throughout the season – but with a year of adversity under his belt, and expectations just as high as before from management, 2016-17 can be his year to announce himself.

Previously

#20Ryan Culkin #19Linus Lindstrom
#18Morgan Klimchuk #17Mason McDonald
#16Brett Pollock #15Matthew Phillips
#14Dillon Dube
  • freethe flames

    While this may not be a make or break it season for Poirier it certainly is a show me season. One has to hope that his speed and snarl can lead to him being an effective player. While ideally a top 6 forward he could be a very effective middle 6 forward who can drive possession because of his skating. Here’s hoping he is ready for camp. Is he eligible to play in Penticton this year?

    • freethe flames

      Although he shots left he has played mostly RW. The article suggests that he needs to play with someone who can get him the puck with speed; might that be on the Johnny/Monny line; if and that’s a big if could find his game he might also be a good fit. The other option which I would like to see him and Janko on a line during the preseason as Janko is a skilled and is often discussed as a playmaker; that might be line made for each other.

        • freethe flames

          I understand the Backlund bump but I wonder if either Ferland or Shinkaruk might be better fits. Ferland physical presence on that line might make it even more difficult to play against and he might find his O on that line. Shinkaruk already comes with a better AHL offensive resume and playing LW with Backs and Frolik might allow him to develop his complete game while still be able to provide O. I would love to see Backs and Frolik continue to be the possession beasts but also add some more O.

  • al rain

    I think it speaks volumes when a coach starts his assessment of a player with: “I think there really needs to be…” It kind of doesn’t even matter what comes after that.

    I’ve moved on from any expectation of Poirier. Win some, lose some. Next.

    • Burnward

      Tough love is still love.

      Kid probably needs to hear it. If Huska didn’t think he had another level and wasn’t doing all he could, he never says this.

  • The Fall

    BT cleaning house in Stockton may be one of the best moves he makes this off-season. The ceiling on most of those guys was super low and they were simply taking spots and ice time from genuine impact prospects, like Emile.

    Sink or swim season for Poirier: sure, but Brad just took away all Huska’s lifejackets and threw them in the deep end. It’s going to be a fun year.

  • Hockeyfan

    Hopefully Emile makes a statement at camp where mngt. have to consider keeping him up. I still think Janko has the best chance of hanging around for the season though.
    I am getting impatient & a little nervous on the SM & JG contracts. Am i seeing too much in the delay or that there seems to be zero progress in negotiations?

        • freethe flames

          Who would be the ideal linemates for Sam? What do you want this 2nd lines identity to be? For me it would getting mostly Ozone starts and primary purpose would be to produce points. As the season progresses I see Sam developing into a guy who will be able to play in more situations but I have no problem with him being sheltered to start. Depending on whether or not Tkachuk can make the team out of camp I would think this might be an effective line: Tkachuk/Bennett/Brouwer. An alternative mike be either Ferland or Shinkaruk on the LW if Tkachuk is not ready.

          There is plenty of potential to have 4 effective lines this year but it is filled with a lot of “if’s”. If Chiasson and Bouma can have bounce back years then things could look very good. If guys like Shinkaruk, Ferland and Vey can live up to some of their offensive potential then things could be very good up front.

          • Hockeyfan

            Agrre for the most part but i feel most fans are not giving janko enough credit here. I see him as being a possibilty for the 2nd line along with Shink or Ferland. keep Tkachuk if he deserves it , but a season in AHL (is he eligible?) would do him well.
            i see Bouma as a press box regular this year, same as Stajan. Lot of money for the press box but some young guys are better now. Chiasson will flourish with JG & SM.

          • Baalzamon

            keep Tkachuk if he deserves it , but a season in AHL (is he eligible?)

            For the millionth time: NO. HE IS NOT AHL ELIGIBLE. TOO YOUNG.

            Why are people so impatient about Jankowski all of a sudden? I thought we all agreed he was a project.

          • supra steve

            What?…How can a fresh college grad with a handful of AHL games not be ready to play second line C in the NHL?

            Best thing for him is at least a half season in Stockton, probably an entire season, or more.

          • freethe flames

            Janko is a wild card for me. His 8 game audition in the AHL has once again raised expectations for him but I’m prepared to have him play in Stockton unless he just flat out earns a job after the Young Stars and preseason. Having said that playing and sharing Center ice duties with Bennett would not be the worst thing that could happen to him. Again Tkachuk can only play in the NHL or CHL this year. I would not be surprised to see him get 9 games and go back but like many here this what we thought would happen to Bennett and even Monny but they proved they belong.

            I have a lot of time for Stajan the man but I also think that he will not play every night. This team could use someone to push him for that 4th line center position and maybe even beat him out for it. I wonder if there are any centers who could be brought in on PTO’s.

          • Craig

            People often forget this but Bennett was sent back to the CHL once he recovered from his injury. And he tore it up. It’s better that Tkachuk is sent back as well.

          • The Fall

            Showing you belong for 8 games in October is a lot different that playing 80 games. He’s a teenager: not even old enough to have a beer with dinner in most cities they’ll play in.

            Not to mention the older and more mature prospects who equally ‘belong’.

            Not to mention that BT has to manage how the contracts and cap ceilings need to be managed and projected years in advance.

            Not to mention that the team is not really a contender and doesn’t need to force him.

            Not to mention 99% of all draft picks go on to play at least another year in a lower league.

            Not to mention the already significant number of new faces and new coaches that need to climate to new systems.

            Honestly, it’s a huge mistake if he plays it out this year — exciting prospect nonetheless.

          • supra steve

            “Honestly, it’s a huge mistake if he plays it out this year”

            Some players are ready for big league duty fresh from their draft, most are not. Time will tell, but calling it a “huge mistake”, at this point, is a mistake.

          • The Fall

            Jesus, the kid has played one year of junior hockey, and you’re slotting him in for 50 points in the NHL…?!

            I think Max Domi is a great example of how to develop those high but not super elite prospects. Bring them in when they’re ready to have immediate impact.

            Maybe Monahan was ready, but if they waited a year BT wouldn’t be in this mess where they need to sign two huge contracts at the same time — each agent waiting for the other to blink. The business side needs to be addressed equally these days.

            McDavid is super elite, but he still wasn’t ready last year — look what happened.

          • Greatsave

            “McDavid is super elite, but he still wasn’t ready last year — look what happened.”

            I’m guessing you’re referring to the fact that he got himself injured, and not the fact that he outscored everyone but Jagr in terms of 5v5-points-per-60 and everyone but Patrick Kane in terms of all situations points-per-60 last season, while playing on a cellar-dweller team like Edmonton.

            Also, I don’t see anyone who’s suggesting that Tkachuk is “slotted for 50 points this season”. Is that a straw-man you’re arguing with?

          • The Fall

            That’s exactly what I’m referring to, how effective is a player that spends nearly half the season not on the ice.

            Saying my argument is irrelevant is a little much. My point being that the majority of prospects go back to a lesser league and that should be the expectation of any 18 year old. There is no downside to that development path: zero risk.

          • Greatsave

            If your point is that “the majority of prospects (even top-6 picks) go back to a lesser league”, then that’s a relevant point, and you should say it as such, instead of “99% of all draft picks”.

            And I don’t agree with your claim that there are “zero risks” with sending the kid back to juniors. Just because some risks are not obvious, identified, or realized, doesn’t mean there are zero risks.

          • The Fall

            wow, you’re really on me today for any hyperbole, eh?

            The development path that provides him another year in the OHL offers very little risk as it pertains to his overall development. Any risks are mitigated when compared against playing in the NHL.

          • I’d be interested to know if the injury rate is really higher in the NHL than in minor leagues. My guess is that it is, but not by much.

            I say if Tkachuk earns a spot then he earns a spot, just like every other player.

          • The Fall

            Not necessarily the injury rate, I was referring to the specific injury that sidelined McDavid: the Oil were shorthanded and he drives the net 1 on 2 while the rest of his team is changing. 30seconds left on the PP and 90seconds left in the period… inexperience written all over that play.

          • Greatsave

            You can call it “inexperience”, but what’s your empirical evidence to support your argument that “he would have learned to avoid this sort of play if he’d just gone back to juniors”? (Or at least I’m assuming that’s your argument.)

            If he’d gone back to juniors, a level he was *already* dominating the year prior, all he would be doing is skating circles around inferior opponents all night, every night; defencemen wouldn’t even get their mitts near him, let alone ride him into the boards. How exactly would playing another year at that level in that environment teach him to make more sensible plays, e.g. not take on two D-men all by yourself while killing a penalty? If anything, those sorts of plays are *exactly* what he would do *more* of had he gone back to juniors. In other words, he would simply be *more* naive when he finally arrived in the big leagues the year after.

          • The Fall

            Mature players make smarter plays. That was dumb move that cost him the Calder and cost the team a chance at finally being competitive. This is my point, it’s not always about skill: maturity and decision making go hand in hand.

            Sorry, I don’t have a chart handy to express this.

          • Greatsave

            “Mature players make smarter plays.”

            Not arguing against that. But you’re implying that the fact he made what you deem a “dumb play” means he was “not ready”, despite the fact that he posted gaudy numbers when he did play. My argument is that going back to juniors likely would not have made him any more “ready”, because that environment doesn’t demand it of him. He wouldn’t have become any “readier” by waiting a year to debut. He would, in fact, likely never become “ready” by your standards.

            Hockey plays don’t get much dumber than having your head down through the neutral zone. By your logic, any player who’s ever been caught doing that and gotten nailed, from Kariya and Lindros, to Crosby and Kane, were not “ready” or “mature”?

          • The Fall

            And seriously, asking for empirical evidence and in the next breath presenting a string of hypothetical arguments supporting your case.

            Yeah he could’ve gone back to junior and could have reinforced bad habits, or he could have gone back to junior and practised any number of skills (like proper penalty killing). Either way he would have come into the nhl a year smarter and a year stronger.

            If you want to talk opinions let’s talk opinions, if you want to talk stats lets do that, but you don’t get to go back and forth whenever it suits you, and then call me out for not keeping up.

          • Greatsave

            Actually, my point is that there are no empirical data available to support arguments either way: so there are only opinions. And I respectfully disagree with yours.

            Not sure where you got the idea that I implied your opinion needed empirical evidence while mine didn’t. Yes they’re both just opinions, but I disagree with yours.

          • Tomas Oppolzer

            Wait, does this mean Carey Price isn’t ready for the NHL? What about Crosby? Both those players have missed significant amounts of time in the last 5 or so years because of injuries.

          • supra steve

            “McDavid wasn’t ready last year — look what happened.”

            So McJesus got injured because he wasn’t ready? Well I’m guessing that’s non-mainstream thinking. I guess his broken hand in the OHL the previous season indicates he wasn’t ready for that level either?

            “Maybe Monahan was ready, but if they waited a year BT wouldn’t be in this mess where they need to sign two huge contracts at the same time”

            Ridiculous. Then you’ve got Bennett/Mony contracts for negotiation next year.

            Having young players come in and excel, pretty good problem to have for any GM.

            “Jesus, the kid has played one year of junior hockey, and you’re slotting him in for 50 points in the NHL…?!”…Have absolutely no idea where you got that from.

          • Greatsave

            If anything I’d be more peeved about burning a year of Gaudreau’s ELC for that one game in 2014. Of course, better that scenario than what Nashville got into with Vesey, I guess.

          • Burnward

            Just going to add regarding Tkachuk: He scored 20 GOALS in 18 playoff games.

            He might have met that challenge already.

            Kid’s a beast. He might not score like crazy out of the gate, but the OHL doesn’t hold much for him probably.

          • Joe Flames

            I agree that Tkachuk would not be challenged very much in the OHL. However, if we keep him up in the NHL and he isn’t quite ready, is it better for his development to sit on the bench and play 8 minutes a night in Calgary or play all the big minutes in junior?

            You have to look at what his targeted future role will be. If you want him to be a top line scorer, he may develop better and maintain more confidence being a big fish in a small pond than sitting on the bench.

            Too many good young players “forget” how to score because they are rushed into the NHL. For the first time in their life they have trouble scoring and their confidence goes in the toilet.

            While I hope that he has a great camp and makes the team beyond 8 games, if he is not trusted to play top six minutes it will hurt his development and it would be better to send him back to London.

          • Greatsave

            If he heads back to London, there’s a good chance too that he’ll be without Marner and Dvorak this fall, which is a different sort of challenge on its own. Like how Drouin had to go without MacKinnon or Strome without McDavid in their draft+1 seasons. Wouldn’t be a bad idea.

          • Tomas Oppolzer

            You lost me a while ago, but the McDavid point was just asinine. He got taken down by two players in a freak accident. When he did play, though, he was a top 5 player in the NHL. If that “isn’t ready” I don’t know what is.

          • Greatsave

            I think I’m starting to see The Fall’s logic. For him, a rookie isn’t “ready” for the league unless he scores 50 points and makes an “immediate impact”. Hence, of this past season’s rookies, Panarin was “ready”, Eichel was “ready”, Domi was “ready”; McDavid, with a paltry 48 points, was not. Ditto Bennett and Monahan in their respective rookie seasons. But Gaudreau and Iggy were totally ready.

          • Greatsave

            “Not to mention 99% of all draft picks go on to play at least another year in a lower league.”

            I have no leaning one way or another as to whether I think Tkachuk should stick with the big club this season or not. That’ll be entirely up to him (and how he performs in camp), the coaching staff, and management. I do want to point out that this “99% of all draft picks” argument is flawed and irrelevant.

            We’re not talking about just any draft pick here. We’re talking about a 6th overall. To lump him (and expectations of him) in with every draft pick ever is not sensible.

            If we look at the past ten drafts, 29 of 60 top-6 picks made their teams straight away. If we look at top-10 picks, it’s 36 of 100.

            I’m not saying whether the decisions to allow these youngsters to stick with their respective teams straight out of the draft were right or wrong (or good vs. bad for their development) on an individual basis. All I’m saying is that “99% of all draft picks don’t make the team straight away” isn’t an argument that’s relevant when discussing a 6th overall pick.

          • RealMcHockeyReturns

            When you said “Not to mention…” Eleven times, your props turned to thumbs down.

            Oh also, When you said “Not to mention…” Eleven times, your props turned to thumbs down.

            and by the way… When you said “Not to mention…” Eleven times, your props turned to thumbs down

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            I like that line as well for Bennett… and had suggested when Brouwer was first signed to put him with Bennett as an option instead of Monahan.

            Further to your last comment, I also really like Ferland as the option for the Backlund line. The “mike” line. I like the idea of Gio/Brodie and the ‘mike’ line against top opposition. They will drive possession back to the other side of the rink and Ferland can run wrecking crew on the other teams stars when he gets the chance! That five man unit could just plain frustrate the opposition and get them to take dumb penalties.

  • Baalzamon

    The main thing that separates Poirier and Shinkaruk right now is versatility. Rocketskates is really dangerous off the rush (mostly because of his speed) but mediocre otherwise. Crookshanks seems to have a more varied skillset offensively, and a better shot selection.

  • DoubleDIon

    Just let Tkachuk show whether he’s ready or not. If he can play a complete game and has enough offensive touch while doing it to play in the top 9 then let him play. If he can’t play a complete game or doesn’t fit in the top 9 send him back. These types of decisions are why we have training camps and preseason.

  • The Beej

    Some of the descriptions in the article about Porier are a little reminiscent of Blake Comeau. Poirier likely has more potential… but he may make the NHL as a depth player… not saying he will top out at that and not trying to be negative. Some first round picks dont make the show at all.

  • Skuehler

    My 2 cents…Poirier looked really good playing a high tempo game with Monahan and other peers after hos draft. I would love to see him get an opportunity to play with Monahan and Gaudreau. He can keep up and score, might be a golden opportunity.

    Other players might be more deserving but spreading the talent throughout the line up is a good plan anyway.

    • freethe flames

      Unfortunately we re unlikely to see that line in preseason with Johnny/Monny being at the world cup. I would like to see Mangiapane/Janko/Poirier be a line through the preseason; in many ways it would be a similar kind of line and could be an awesome line in the AHL.

      I also wonder how many of these youngsters have come to Calgary to prepare themselves. I believe that Janko said he was coming to Calgary for August.