USA TODAY Sports
There’s no doubt Pouliot is the team’s most prized young defenseman. He was the Penguins' eighth overall pick in the 2012 entry draft and was the Canadian major junior defenseman of the year last season.
I don’t have him listed here because I don’t think he has anything to prove yet. The 20-year-old, along with Olli Maatta, is recovering from shoulder surgery, which means less competition for Dumoulin and Despres, who now have a very good chance at earning a full-time roster spot.
Despres has the most experience of the two budding stars. In 34 games career games, he has amassed a measly five assists, but coaches are hoping he can finally break out this season and take his outstanding puck mobility and offensive prowess to the next level.
Dumoulin, like Despres, is a big, mobile d-man who is capable of becoming a shutdown player in the NHL.
With a spot primed for the taking, one of them is going to have to outplay the other in training camp and in the early portion of the season to claim the job.
Both men are exiting their youth in the next year or so, which means they better show what they’re made of now in order to deviate from spending anymore unwanted time in the AHL.