Defenseman Tucker Poolman was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. After being selected, he took a little while to develop in college, playing for the University of North Dakota.
Poolman enjoyed some success during his collegiate career, scoring 20 goals and 72 points in 118 career games for North Dakota. The 6′ 2″ blueliner finally got to play in the NHL during the 2017-18 campaign, where he played 24 games during the regular season and also suited up for the Jets in two playoff games as well.
Let’s have a look at what went right and wrong for the 28-year-old defenseman this past season.
What Went Right?
Poolman has been receiving more and more ice time every season since his rookie campaign. In 2020-21, he averaged 18:18 minutes a night and saw his playing time increase during the playoffs, rising to 21:07 minutes per game. Given this extra ice time, it clearly shows that head coach Paul Maurice trusts Poolman more than others, which might not be a good thing.
Poolman’s physicality increased dramatically, resulting in the highest hits total (69) of his NHL career in just 39 games. In the 2019-20 season, he posted 59 hits in 58 games. Coming out strong in the opening round of the playoffs, the right-hander scored his first goal since Mar. 9, 2020, in Game One against the Edmonton Oilers. Then in Game Two, he earned a secondary assist on veteran Paul Stastny’s game-winning goal.
The last thing of note was Poolman only committed one penalty all season, which is a major drop from last season where he racked up 24 penalty minutes. To have the agility to hit more and take less penalties is crazy in my world, who else has done that in recent history? No one I can think of.
What Went Wrong?
In the first game of the season against the Calgary Flames, Poolman was on the ice for the opening shift where forward Matthew Tkachuk scored a deflection while battling in front of the net. After that game, Poolman missed the next 11 games due to COVID-19 and then suffered an undisclosed injury just 11 days after returning to the lineup, forcing him to miss another three contests.
So Poolman never really got into the swing of things until later in the season. Given all the obstacles he was forced to overcome, it’s somewhat understandable he only registered one assist during the regular season.
What to Expect Next Season?
Assuming the Seattle Kraken don’t sign Poolman, who’s an unrestricted free agent, for the expansion draft, there’s a strong chance he returns to Winnipeg next season.
If that occurs, I expect Poolman to be playing with teammate Josh Morrissey on the top pairing to begin the campaign unless the Jets find that top-four defenseman we’ve all been hoping for. If he’s playing on the top pairing, I could see him picking up around six goals and 19 points.
Let me know what you thought of Poolman’s performance and if you think he should be re-signed by the Jets. You can let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Instagram or Twitter – @angushout.