The Flames currently own the rights to five first rounders from the 2013 draft class, but are still waiting for them to pan out. They’ve seen a lot of success from Sean Monahan, but the drop off is steep from there. Curtis Lazar is the next most successful as he’s played more than 15 NHL games, but is certainly not Monahan in terms of talent.
If there’s any pick from that draft that was going to make it first, it would’ve been Emile Poirier. The Montreal native got an AHL All-Star nod in his rookie season, but soon dropped off, and dropped off hard.
A battle with personal issues took him away from hockey the season before, but he was expected to come back a new player. How did he fare?
Poirier came up through the Gatineau Olympiques program, exciting scouts with his speed and offensive flair with a dose of nastiness. Although expected to be a second or third round pick, the Flames went for him in the first round at 22nd overall, a surprise pick at the time.
However, Poirier started living up to the hype. A strong draft+1 season with Gatineau saw him put up 43 goals and 44 assists in 63 games, and he finished the year picking up four points in two games on an ATO. His first professional year was also gangbusters. Poirier picked up 42 points in 55 games for the Adirondack Flames, earning second place in team scoring and an appearance at the All-Star game. He also made a brief, six-game NHL debut, picking up an assist.
Then things went south. Poirier was unable to match his production from the year before, dropping to 29 points in 60 games. Another NHL stint proved fruitless, too. His 2016-17 was a low point, only picking up 17 points in 43 games before heading on personal leave for the rest of the season.
Poirier stuck around in the AHL all year. He started slowish, but had seemingly found a breakout moment when he picked up six points over three games. It didn’t last long, as he sporadically picked up points here and there before hitting a nine-game scoring drought. Like clockwork, Poirier found himself scoring again, picking up six points in his next 10 games.
The next 10 games went the opposite way, as he went on another long drought that earned him a healthy scratch, but he woke up almost immediately after. During the Heat’s last playoff push, Poirier picked up 10 points in his last 10 games, nine of them coming in five consecutive games, almost singlehandedly pushing them into a playoff spot.
|GP||G||A||P||Primary points||5v5 Points||5v5 Primary points||NHLe|
Poirier’s season can really be seen in the chart. He started slow, exploded, and then disappeared until the very end of the season when he woke up again.
The major problem with Poirier is that he didn’t really improve from last year. His NHLe is technically three points higher, but that was mostly thanks to his late season explosion. The five games where he went nuts were nice, but it doesn’t wash away the other 60 games. Poirier’s sporadic performances were just about the same level as last year. It would be unrealistic to expect him to be as productive as players like Andrew Mangiapane, but you could easily expect him to be a better version of himself and that didn’t happen.
Poirier’s main role with the Heat was being a third liner with occasional powerplay time. He’s an okay primary points producer given his role, but the lack of volume in scoring is concerning.
Poirier has spent four seasons in the pros and hasn’t really moved the needle one way or the other, which would throw his NHL future into doubt. As an RFA with only one promising AHL year (which also happened to be his first), he’s an easy candidate to move on from.
But I can see the Flames re-signing him due to his personal struggles and the lack of NHL opportunities (the last NHL coach he played under was Bob Hartley, to put it in perspective). It wouldn’t be fair to expect him to bounce back when you don’t really give him an opportunity to prove himself. If he puts it all together next season, perhaps he can be more than a flash in the pan.
However, I don’t think you can hope to see a major improvement. Poirier’s turning 24 this December and will be entering his fifth year of AHL hockey. He’s had over 200 games of AHL experience which is a pretty good sample to find out what a player is. Personal struggles aside, the same criticisms seem to dog Poirier: not reliable defensively, not consistent on a game-to-game basis, a bit lazy offensively, etcetera. If he hasn’t figured out those issues in the AHL, it’s unlikely he’s going to find a spot in the NHL.
Poirier’s a guy to root for but his actual results don’t inspire much confidence. I think the Flames would be safe to move on.
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