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Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck / USA TODAY Sports

Prospect wrap-up: Emile Poirier

Just over a year and a half ago, we ranked Emile Poirier third in our annual prospect countdown, behind Sam Bennett and Jon Gillies and ahead of Oliver Kylington. He tore up the AHL in his rookie season and looked poised to claim an opening on the Flames’ roster.

Since then, things have been concerning. He placed 16th in our December re-rank.

Perhaps he took a step backwards after his first pro season, but the thought was that Poirier could likely get back on track this season. It’s turned out to be his roughest yet. He struggled to stay on the scoresheet, and took an extended personal leave that lasted from February until the end of the season.

Could he bounce back?

Brief history

Poirier started his career as a standout for the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques, scoring over a point per game in his draft year. He followed up a 32-goal, 38-assist season with a 43-goal, 44-assist effort in his draft+1 year, leading the Olympiques in scoring by 25 points. Poirier finished that year in Abbotsford, scoring four points in two regular season games, and adding another in three playoff games.

Poirier’s breakthrough came the next season for the Adirondack Flames, earning an AHL all-star nod after scoring 42 points in 55 games, finishing one point out of first place on Adirondack (although he played 12 fewer games than leading scorer Kenny Agostino). He had a brief taste of NHL action, scoring one point in six games played. Although he clearly wasn’t at the NHL level yet, it felt like only a matter of time.

His 2015-16 season went in the opposite direction. Cut from the training camp roster, Poirier struggled through the season, hitting 29 points in 60 games. Although the inaugural Stockton Heat were not great (Poirier finished sixth in scoring and was the youngest member of the top 10), Poirier had some big struggles, too. Perhaps he could bounce back next year.

2016-17 performance

GP-G-A-P Primary points 5v5 P1 NHLe
43-6-11-17 15 10 15.56

Poirier is still a strong generator of primary offence, I guess. He mostly played with Morgan Klimchuk and Ryan Lomberg this year, so it’s kind of not hard to be the most offensively gifted one out of those three.

Just for comparison, he had more goals two seasons ago than he had points this year.

There’s no positive spin to put on this: Poirier struggled all year. Perhaps his low, low shooting percentage (finished at 8%, dropped below 6% at points this year) explains a bit of his struggles, but not all of them. He went on long scoring droughts followed by one or two great weeks, then back to nothing. There were times where it appeared that he had improved from his disastrous 2015-16, but it all fell apart in the weeks preceding his personal leave.

Final thoughts

This is the do-or-die year for Poirier. He’s been given opportunities in years past to make the team and failed to do so. He has nothing that justifies a second contract.

Hopefully this personal leave gives him a fresh start. The last two seasons have been nothing but bad for Poirier and if he can reclaim what he was in 2014-15, there’s a chance he can leapfrog back into the prospect discussion.

But right now, he’s at the bottom rung of the ladder. There are about four or five prospects who are definitely ahead of him (some of them were rookies this year) in the competition for a spot this upcoming training camp. Of course, there have been training camp surprises and Poirier could potentially be one of them.

There’s a lot to like about Poirier: he’s big, physical, in your face, can play both wings, and speedy with some pretty good puck control. If he puts it all back together, perhaps the Flames have something again.

Previously

Austin Carroll, Morgan Klimchuk, Mark Jankowski, Hunter Shinkaruk, Rasmus Andersson, Kenney Morrison, Tyler Wotherspoon, Oliver Kylington, Stepan Falkovsky, Keegan Kanzig/Mason McDonald, Ryan Culkin/Brett Pollock, Mitchell Mattson, Adam Fox, Brandon HickeyRiley Bruce/Nick Schneider, Tyler Parsons, Eetu Tuulola, Matt Phillips, Dillon Dube, Adam Ollas Mattsson, Linus Lindstrom, Pavel Karnaukhov/Rushan Rafikov, Tim Harrison

  • supra steve

    Here’s hoping whatever Poirier’s personal issues have been, they were responsible for his drop in play. Let’s also hope that those personal issues resolve for him, for his sake as well as for the Flames. Best of luck to the kid.

        • Kevin R

          Not that your statement is wrong but hockey players are in the public & people will speculate even more if they think there is something being hidden. Not saying that’s right, just the nature of being in a glorified highly paid industry with fans following everything. At least hockey players don’t have papparotzi (sp?) following them everywhere. Nature of the beast.

          • Lets Get Something Clear

            That’s a bit of an overstatment. Poirier is a 22 year-old getting paid $70,000 a year. He’s hardly a celebrity that has forfeited their privacy for wealth and fame.

  • freethe flames

    At one point this year Huska gave him a letter one has to wonder if it was to give him an incentive or if he had earned it. Here’s hoping that he has managed the issues surrounding his leave; after hearing both Pascal and Huska speak about him it sounds that he has. None of know for sure the why and none of will respond to issues in the same way. In the past the Flames have been generous with players needing a personal leave(think Stajan) more so than some employers in this province. Here’s hoping he can find the way back to live up to his potential and live out his dreams. Again it really is up to him to push the pile and even if he can only make this team as an energy 4th line winger it would be good. As I have said many a times it really is up to him, Lazar, Shinkaruk, Klimchuk and Janko all former first rounders to push the pile and supplement the bottom 6.

    On a completely different topic has anyone else read the Haynes article on the options for LVGK at the expansion draft. I suspect mcPhee uses them all. My question is what would fans be willing to pay for him to select Brouwer? LV will need guys that are legit prospects that are still waiver eligible; would the rights to Hickey and Kylington for their 2nd or 3rd pick get it done? Also might it be easier to deal with him to get one of the quality back ups instead of the team directly?

    • Kevin R

      No way I give up Kylington to get rid of Brouwer. We have invested 2 years of AHL development in him & the kid is only 19 & hit 30 points. Most D prospects are still in junior at age 19. I would part with Kylington if it meant him & our 1st for Cory Schneider. To get rid of Brouwer, not a chance. If Klimchuk or Shink were offered to take Brouwer & we get lets say the Vegas 3rd or 4th round pick, then that’s worth it. I would rather give Brouwer another year to see if he could rebound before I parted with Kylington or Hickey for that matter.

      • freethe flames

        I understand the reluctance on Kylington but I think the cost of getting rid of Brouwer will require an overpayment. Are either Shinkaruk or Klimchu waiver exempt still; if so then it might be do able.

          • freethe flames

            Thanks for the information.
            @Newbietwo: You may indeed be right but only time will tell us this. My question really was and remains what would we be willing to pay to make it happen. LV needs to begin starting to developing a farm team and no one they draft this year from NA will be able to play in the AHL; so do we have assets that can be moved to help them with that while not hurting our own player development. The other question I have might it easier to deal with Vegas at this time to add our needed pieces or directly with the established teams prior to the expansion. The Haynes read makes one think about the possibilities. There are no absolutes until after the fact.