Photo Credit: Saint John Sea Dogs | Dan Culberson
Jérémie Poirier hails from the Montréal suburb of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec. He grew up playing youth hockey for AHM Valleyfield. After playing in the Valleyfield youth hockey program, he played bantam hockey for Lac St-Louis Grenadiers Espoir and midget hockey for Châteauguay Grenadiers.
In the 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft, the Saint John Sea Dogs netted quite a few solid prospects in round one. The Sea Dogs selected William Villenueve at #2, Poirier at #8 and Josh Lawrence at #15. Following the draft, he was kept with the club for the 2018-2019 season and registered six goals and 15 assists in 61 games played.
This past season, Poirier’s offensive production spiked. The puck moving defensemen tallied 20 goals and 33 assists in 64 games. His production would have been higher if the QMJHL season was not suspended after the COVID-19 breakout in Canada.
D.O.B – June 2, 2002
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Weight –192 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Poirier’s Style Of Play
Poirier is an outstanding offensive defenseman. The Canadian defensive prospect thrives when he is in possession of the puck. When in transition, he swerves and completes tight turns in the neutral zone to open up space and avoid attackers. While there are times where he seems to put in a ton of work in avoiding attackers just to dump the puck in, those dump-ins help pave the way for the Saint John Sea Dogs to complete a dump and chase. In the clip below, you will see at the 4:45 mark in the third period of play, Poirier lean on his outside edges to shift his stride and avoid his attacker. He also shifts control of the puck to his non-dominant hand to make it more of a challenge for the attacker to strip the puck. The one thing that limits Poirier’s ability to go further and complete a controlled zone entry in this sequence is his feet placement. At center ice, he shortens his extension and does not complete a full recovery. When he does not complete a full recovery, his feet are place wide apart and he looses his mobility. If Poirier utilized his crossovers instead at center ice, he could have bolstered his acceleration and avoided a confrontation with the Moncton defenseman.
There are also plenty of instances where Poirier will complete a controlled zone entry. I’ve included an example. In the clip, you will see Poirier receive a pass from Villeneuve and quickly use his hands to escape the Charlottetown Islanders attack. He throws the puck between the legs of his attacker and then pivots when he has two attackers approaching him. Once he completes the pivot, he can alter his direction once more and enter the offensive zone with the puck.
In the offensive zone, there is a lot to talk about with Poirier. He can thread the needle through tight gaps and that makes him a valued asset on the power play. Poirier is an effective tape-to-tape passer and delivers quality feeds across the offensive zone. In the clip below, Poirier delivers a crisp pass from beyond the perimeter to the doorstop on the power play.
Not only will he complete quality passes, but he does the dirty work to open up lanes when he is working the cycle. Poirier knows how explosive his shot is from the blue line and he will use that to his advantage. He will draw the opposition to him and the opposition will get themselves in gear for a shot block. At the point, Poirier suddenly has room along the blue line. In the clip below, you can check out an example of Poirier completing a fake shot, buying himself some room and then firing a lateral tape-to-tape feed.
When you analyze his shot, he has quite the range. He can score from up close in the slot, in the corner, high slot/edge of the perimeter and from the point. But, Poirier is not your average offensive defenseman. If he has open lanes and room to breathe, he will exploit it. In the clip below, Poirier collects a drop pass from fellow 2020 NHL Draft eligible prospect Brady Burns. He then works the boards and pivots at the faceoff hashmarks. With the coast clear to the net, he drives to the net and goes five hole.
While Poirier’s offensive and transition game are quite sound, his defensive play is slowing him down. Earlier on in the season, I had projected Poirier as a top 25 prospect, but over the course of the season his defensive struggles were more pronounced. There are many elements in play here. Some of Poirier’s defensive struggles can be attributed to poor decision making. For instance, there are rushes that he drops back for, but skates forward instead of backwards. Poirier is a solid backwards skater, but for whatever reason on an offensive rush, he tends to second guess himself. When his attackers are on the move and do not have 100% control of the puck, he needs to rely on his backwards skating. If he does not, he looses sight of both lanes. In the clip below, you will see an example of Poirier skating forwards against the rush and is unable to see the right lane. Since he can not see the right lane, he leaves an attacker open and ready for a pass.
Poor defensive decision making is a trend with Poirier. But, one note that NHL teams should make is that deploying Poirier alongside a puck moving defenseman will not work. Saint John explored having Poirier and Villeneuve together throughout the season and it back-fired. Poirier was forced to drop back as Villeneuve was too far up. Since Poirier struggles in the defensive zone, it was not fair to have him all alone. In the clip below, you can see an example of Poirier having to circumvent a two attacker attack, but he has a hard time defending the puck mover and the forward driving down the opposing lane. Poirier is leaning more towards the puck mover and leaves too big of a gap. When he does this, it opens up a scoring chance for his opposition and the opposition burned him in the below clip.
But, it’s not just decision making that slows down Poirier’s defensive play. His mobility hurts his defensive play as well. Poirier deploys a wider glide in the defensive zone and it hurts his ability to limit lanes and gaps. With his wide glide (feet placed wider then his torso), he is ineffective when an attacker passes by him with the puck. Poirier will more than often look to counteract his mobility issues by waving his stick and attempt a pokecheck, but his pokecheck attempt is an unsuccessful one as he waves the stick and misses the target completely.
All-in-all, Poirier can be an effective offensive defenseman as he has showcased that through his QMJHL play, but his defensive zone play needs a jumpstart. Any team who selects Poirier needs to be patient with his defensive game. It can improve with the right defensive-minded coaches. But, it’s not just development that will benefit Poirier. Poirier needs to be paired with a strong defensive defenseman, who will be the one to drop back and defend the rush. Poirier will still need to be apart of the defensive attack on those rushes, but the primary responsibility should not lie on his shoulders otherwise he will struggle.
Tyson Barrie, RHD, Toronto Maple Leafs
Like Barrie, Poirier has great range, excellent hands and can be dynamic in transition. The issue that Barrie has is the same one that Poirier has. They both struggle in the defensive zone when defending the rush and eliminating gaps.
stats from EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.
Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!