Way, way back in 2013, the Calgary Flames turned some heads when they selected Quebec Major Junior Hockey League sniper Emile Poirier at 22nd overall at the NHL Draft. While at the time many onlookers felt the Flames should have taken Calgarian Hunter Shinkaruk – he was subsequently traded to the Flames by Vancouver last winter – Poirier made a nice first impression during his first professional season.
Making his pro debut in 2014-15, he had 42 points in 55 AHL games and a point in a six-game cup of coffee in the NHL with the Flames. But after a 2015-16 season full of ups and downs, and hindered by a slow start out of the gates, Poirier is eager to get back onto the Flames’ radar for an NHL job.
“I think you learn from it,” said Poirier of his 2015-16 season, after a practice session at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “I think I’m coming here looking to make [this] team. That’s what I have in mind, and I’ll push for it.”
That attitude is a nice thing to hear after the comments we heard from Stockton Heat head coach Ryan Huska over the summer, where he noted that he hoped Poirier made some changes to his play and come in focused on a Calgary roster spot. The focus is there, and he seems aware of what he needs to do in order to crack the Flames’ lineup on Oct. 12.
“I think I’ve got to play my game,” said Poirier. “I think go hard to the net, to create some offense, be good on both sides of the ice, and I think just create something out there and have some chances and that’s what I have to do.”
He also elaborated on how his play needs to be on every shift, in terms of creating momentum for his team even when he doesn’t have the puck on his stick. He freely admitted that he learned a lot about two-way play over the last year.
“I think every time I go out there, I got to create something… even if it’s offensively or a play defensively with my speed,” said Poirier. “I’ve got to go in there and even if it’s a check or something, I’ve just got to go out there every shift and create something out there positively.”
Poirier has played two seasons in the AHL already. While he still has two years left on his entry-level deal (his first year slid), he remains focused on cracking the NHL roster.
“I want to be on this team. I think that’s my goal,” said Poirier, who had a good reply when asked if a strong AHL year would be a success. “No. I don’t think so. I want to be here.”