2012 NHL Draft Grades: Penguins Earn High Marks Trading Up for Derrick Pouliot

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IJune 22, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22:  Derrick Pouliot (C), eighth overall pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, poses with team co-owner Mario Lemieux (2nd R) and other team representatives on stage during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins earned an A+ when they made the first major move of the 2012 NHL draft by trading Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes for the No. 8 overall pick and two other players. With that pick, they drafted Derrick Pouliot.

John Buccigross has the details:

 

Wow, Jordan Staal to Carolina for 8th pick, Brandon Suter, and BC's Brian Dumoulin #cawlidgehawkey

— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) June 23, 2012

 

This is a major coup. Staal was already on his way out after turning down a massive extension offer by the Penguins, according to Will DePaoli:

 

#Penguins I'm told offered Staal a 10 year - $58 million deal & are willing to go even higher but Staal's camp has no plans to negotiate now

— Will DePaoli (@TIOPS_DePaoli) June 21, 2012


This move shifts the balance of power in the Eastern Conference squarely to the Penguins. They are set up for years to come now with Pouliot as a major scoring threat on defense. They will become an offensive juggernaut while still maintaining a stifling defense. 

In short, the Penguins are going to be scary-good.

One NHL executive thought Pouliot might be the best scoring defenseman in the draft, according to TheHockeyNews.com:

He really doesn’t get as much publicity as he should, playing out in Portland. Such a good skater. He has mobility and the ability to jump into the attack and he can play both sides of the puck. He might be the best of the group.

The Penguins hit a grand slam with this pick, and they are set for years to come as the favorites to win the East.