The WHL has become famous for producing high end defenceman and the 2012 NHL Draft is once again a prime example of that.
Anywhere from 5-7 WHL blueliners could be taken in the first round. Among those is Portland Winterhawks defenceman Derrick Pouliot.
When compared to the other defenceman in the draft, Pouliot might have the most offensive potential going forward. He's a great skater with good feet, good edges and the ability to play a high tempo transition game. He might not be as strong of a skater as either Morgan Rielly or Ryan Murray, but he's still well above average.
Not only that, but he's a sublime passer of the puck. He is hands down the top passer of any of the defensive crop for the 2012 draft. In fact, he finished 2nd in the entire WHL in regards to assists for a defenceman with 48. With 11 goals to go along with the assists, he finished with 59 points in 72 games.
The biggest concerns around Pouliot's game continue to be his play away from the puck and his play in his own zone. It's definitely not a huge concern for me going forward as young players, especially defenceman, usually need to learn to play in their own end of the rink. He's a fine enough skater that he won't have trouble defending speed, but he will also need to continue to get bigger and stronger to match up against larger opposition.
As far as a player comparison, I think Brian Campbell would be a pretty good one.
I eventually see him being a solid top 3 defenceman on an NHL club, while quarterbacking a top powerplay unit. Many NHL teams will definitely have interest in Pouliot and I expect him to go somewhere around 15th-20th overall in the NHL draft come June, putting him firmly On The Radar.