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Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck / USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation prospect wrap-up: Emile Poirier

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?

Background

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.

2017-18 story

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.

The numbers

GP G A P Primary points 5v5 Points 5v5 Primary points NHLe
AHL 65 7 24 31 21 21 14 18.38

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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.

The future

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.

Previously

Austin Carroll | Morgan Klimchuk | Hunter Shinkaruk | Spencer Foo | Rasmus Andersson | Tyler Wotherspoon | Oliver Kylington | Josh Healey & Adam Ollas Mattsson | Mitchell Mattson | Hunter Smith | Mason McDonald | Tyler Parsons | Juuso Valimaki | Nick Schneider | Adam Ruzicka | Matthew Phillips | D’Artagnan Joly | Glenn Gawdin | Zach Fischer | Dillon Dube | Filip Sveningsson | Eetu Tuulola | Adam Fox | Linus Lindstrom | Pavel Karnaukhov & Rushan Rafikov

      • McRib

        In this case he really was…. When Poirier wasn’t buried in the bottom six he was the teams second most productive forward (outside of Mangiapane). Calgary has just destroyed this kid, I hope he doesn’t get resigned at this point.

        Poirier had 75 Goals in his last 128 QMJHL GP. Garnet Hathawy had 20 Goals in his entire NCAA career (121 GP). So Huska supports Hathaway getting to the NHL by giving him more prime AHL minutes and when he gets here Hathaway goes 41 games without a goal last year and we can’t understand why we keep losing games by one goal….. I still remember after Poirier was an AHL All-Star coming into his second season he was the first cut in training camp…. what kind of a message does that send to be a AHL All-Star at 20 years old and then get cut the next main camp ASAP.

  • Stockton's Finest

    If the decision was between Poirier or Shinkaruk, the answer is Poirier. Let’s see what Cail McLain has in mind for this young man.

    Last year during fan events, he was much more engaged than the year prior. I feel he knows his chances are numbered and he needs to bring that “chip on shoulder” attitude into camp.

    • Justeen Trudope

      I think Shinkaruk is by far the better bet. It’s clear Poirier is nothing more then a feel good story. Both players are trending backwards but at least Hunter could fill a depth bottom 6 player. I wish Emile the best but hope he is gone from this organization.

  • Redleader

    So much for a deep draft class for 2013 . Keep Klimchuck, rid the rest , I think last year was show me something, and if he is foolish to pick parties over being in the NHL then time to pack your bags . There’s a ton of players that would have loved to be on his position Poirier blew it

  • freethe flames

    I’m hopeful for the young man; the way he ended the season for the Heat is a hopeful sign. But he has to earn everything going forward. Will he do it I don’t know but I don’t see how giving him one more year would hurt the organization.

  • Baalzamon

    I think the Flames will keep him around, for the sake of solidarity if nothing else. Help him work through is addiction recovery and keep him employed while doing it.

  • freethe flames

    Anyone following the drama coming out of Ottawa? Somebody is a very sick person to do what is being accused of being done. I sure hope they get to the bottom of it and catch whoever is responsible.

  • oilcanboyd

    We have seen very little from Poirier, so I have no comment other than I hope he gets his act together and pushes hard to get his hockey career moving forward.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    I really doubt that Hoffman was involved in stalking a member of his own team. Back on topic though I was really hoping poirier was going to do great things with the flames. I don’t think I will hurt to give him a little more time to show what his speed and tenacity can do if he puts it together for another full season. He may just buy himself more time. It really is in his hands now though, it’s too bad he let his career derail for the partying life. Best of luck to him.

    • freethe flames

      Looking at both team rosters and seeing how many older AHL guys and tweeners they have confirms in my mind why if you want to build a winning culture you need to have a mix of solid AHLers, tweeners, late bloomers, NHL ready or nearly ready prospects and younger 1st and 2nd year pros. This year the Flames are likely sending 4 CHL graduates to the Heat(Dube, Gawdin, Phillips, Valimaki), there will be a couple of 2nd year pros Parsons, Pollock and???, a few nearly ready guys Mangiapane, Foo, Kylington, and Gilles(Im giving Ras a job in the nHL) and then 4-6 Tweeners/late bloomers and the 2 new Euro’s although the D may get a chance to 6/7 if we move either Stone or Brodie. I sure would like to see the Flames organization reward the Heat fans with a chance to win.

  • Franko J

    Poirier will never develop into the player the scouts and management probably envisioned when they drafted him. Most likely where he was drafted the expectations were generally a crapshoot at best. So far there is nothing if little indication he has the ability to make it at the next level.
    Like Shinkaruk, I think the Flames should let him loose and go with some of the incoming prospects who warrant the ability to develop.

    • freethe flames

      Franko: Who are these other incoming prospects? As I said earlier as far as I can see the Flames have 4 CHL graduates moving to pro hockey this year. Everyone else is either to young to play in the AHL or is at this point staying Europe. If they are bringing younger more promising prospects in then fine but unless they are they need players like Poirier to fill out the Heat roster.

  • cjc

    Here’s my issue with re-signing Poirier. If Poirier is brought back for one more year, where does he slot in terms of Stockton’s depth and special teams usage? Dube and Phillips both have to be higher rated prospects now, and if history is any indicator they will be given top billing in Stockton. Gawdin is coming in hot, too, though I don’t know he will be handed a top 6 role. If Klimchuk and Shinkaruk are brought back, there is no reason that they should play below Poirier. Then there are Foo and Mangiapane. One or both of them will make the Flames, but in case they don’t there is even less room in Stockton for Poirier.

    If Poirier is comfortable reprising his 2017-2018 role (3rd liner who plays in the top 6 if there are call-ups or injuries), then I can see bringing him back. But there is no sense giving him minutes ahead of any of those guys. Poirier would probably put up decent numbers in a top six role, but he will start the season as a 23 year old, so that is hardly surprising.

    • freethe flames

      The Farm team needs players at every level of development: you need AHL vets to help younger players to develop, you need tweeners/late bloomers to bring up if need be, you need guys who are ready and you need your young prospects and they need to be developed in the correct manner. One thing that has to be clear to all the players is where they stand in the “call up order’ and if they can’t accept that reality then you need to move on. An AHL team likely needs to carry around 25 skaters some of whom are on AHL only deals. The 3 first year pro forwards need to be played and played in roles consistent with the teams expectations of them but also in a role to succeed.

    • supra steve

      If the incoming CHL players can outplay the older prospects, then the kids play above the older guys. Just as it has always been and as it should be. There is no player development cost to re signing Poirier.

      • cjc

        Fully agree – if Dube, Phillips and Gawdin come in and show that they can’t handle the heat, then Poirier should get a bit more opportunity. But I recall a previous FN article about the developmental philosophy the Flames used, which basically said the team’s best prospects will get the best shot in the minors. Basically, those jobs in the top six are their’s to lose.