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?
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.
|GP-G-A-P||Primary points||5v5 P1||NHLe|
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.
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.
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 Hickey, Riley Bruce/Nick Schneider, Tyler Parsons, Eetu Tuulola, Matt Phillips, Dillon Dube, Adam Ollas Mattsson, Linus Lindstrom, Pavel Karnaukhov/Rushan Rafikov, Tim Harrison