2023 Calgary Flames Prospect Rankings: #5 Jeremie Poirier

Coming in at the #5 spot in the 2023 TWC Calgary Flames Prospect Rankings is AHL All-Rookie team member and Calgary Wranglers defenceman Jeremie Poirier. The 2020 third-round pick made his AHL debut this past season and immediately made an impact as a rookie. Poirier is without a doubt the organization’s top prospect on the backend.

Poirier’s development so far

Poirier was selected in the third round of the 2020 draft at 72nd overall. The Flames actually picked Poirier with a third rounder they acquired in a previous trade to move down in the first round. As mentioned off the top, Poirier made his pro debut in the AHL this past season after spending the previous four years in the QMJHL.

In his D+0 year in 2019-20, Poirier broke out and showcased the offensive talent that made him a highly touted prospect. He posted 53 points in 64 games to finish second in the entire QMJHL for points from the blueline despite being just 17 years old. If it weren’t for his shortcomings defensively, he would’ve been picked much higher in the draft. Potentially even into the first round.

To follow up his impressive draft season, Poirier took another big step in his D+1 year posting 37 points in just 33 games. The total ranked tops among blueliners on his team and second overall. He also finished the year fourth in the QMJHL for scoring by defencemen. He’d also add on nine points in six playoff games to finish second on his team in scoring and third among all defencemen despite playing just six games.

In his D+2 year Poirier took a tad step back offensively, dropping from his point-per-game pace with 57 points in 67 games. The total still ranked tops on his team among defencemen and seventh in the QMJHL. One of the reasons for the drop in production was Poirier’s focus on improving his defensive game which had been highly criticized throughout his junior career. All said, Poirier managed to still produce at a top-end rate while also improving away from the puck during his final year in junior. He also posted three points in four games in the Memorial Cup tournament as St. John were crowned Memorial Cup champs.

Plus-minus isn’t the greatest stat to look at when deciding a players value, but it’s certainly worth noting that Poirier went from being a -25 in 2019–20 despite having 53 points to a +30 in 2021–22 with 57 points. That’s a huge jump and certainly a testament to Poirier’s focus on improving in his own end.

This most recent season Poirier made the jump to pro hockey full-time with the Calgary Wranglers and never looked out of place. Poirier regularly played in the Wranglers’ top-four and on the power play. He finished the season with 41 points in 69 games a rookie, to finish second in team scoring among defencemen. League-wide, his 41 points were second in the AHL among rookie defencemen.

Poirier’s strengths and weaknesses

From the day he was drafted, Poirier’s strengths and weaknesses were clear as day. He possesses borderline elite offensive talent, but at times has been a disaster defensively and in his own zone. However throughout his final years in junior and last year in the AHL he’s made huge strides in the defensive end.

Let’s start with the good. Poirier is incredibly skilled offensively and is a dynamic offensive defenceman that can generate offence at will. He possesses great hands, skating, vision and creativity that allows him to wreak havoc in the offensive zone when he has the puck. He’s the type of player that gets you on your feet and makes you take notice when he’s got the puck. That’s how talented he is.

Here he is recognizing and anticipating where the play is going, stepping in from the blueline and sniping the first goal in Wranglers history with a great wrist shot.

Here’s another similar play where he steps into the middle of the ice to receive a pass and wires home a shot from the top of the circles.

His ability to carry the puck and weave through traffic is second to none at the AHL level, as he’s able to fly around the offensive zone with ease most nights. Here’s a great example where Poirier picks up the puck at the points, carries into the middle of the ice and then follows up on his own rebound for a goal.

He’s not just great at scoring goals either, he can setup his teammates as well. In the below example he picks up the puck at the point then dances around the first defender before sending a perfect cross crease pass to his teammate for a tap-in. The clip perfectly demonstrates his skating, hands and heads up playmaking that make him a threat in the offensive zone.

Now to the bad. As mentioned previously the knock on Poirier’s game has always been his defensive deficiencies and lack of effort in his own zone. It’s the primary reason he wasn’t drafted higher and fell to the third round despite his high-end point production. He’s regularly been criticized for cheating for offence which then leads to chances and goals against when he’s on the ice. He can sometimes try to do too much and take on too many defenders on his own leading to turnovers and chances against. There’s certainly still room for improvement when it comes to his decision making and puck management, but much less so compared to a couple years ago.

The good news is Poirier has taken significant steps since being drafted to fix these issues. Last season in the AHL he showcased his improved two-way game as his defensive miscues became fewer and fewer as the year went on. The fact that he was still able to post an impressive 41 points as a rookie defenceman in the AHL while also shoring up his defensive game is a great sign. Sure there’s still some hiccups and moments where he tries to do too much, but he’s also only 21 years old. With more experience at the pro level and working with pro coaches, the mistakes should continue to decrease.

Poirier’s next steps

In terms of Poirier’s next steps, he’s still at least a year away from becoming an NHLer. The Flames blueline is incredibly crowded right now with six NHL defencemen under contract for next season, so there really isn’t any room for Poirier. That’s not a bad thing though as Poirier is still incredibly young at just 21 years old and would be best served spending another year in the AHL improving his overall game and taking on a larger role with the Wranglers.

If I were to take a guess, I’d say the 2024–25 season would the target date for Poirier to make his NHL debut. Four of the the Flames’ current top six defenders will see their contracts expire next summer which should leave plenty of empty spots on the blueline. With how thin the organization’s depth chart is on the backend after their NHL group, Poirier would be the obvious next man up. The fact that he was one of the team’s final cuts in training camp last season speaks volumes to how the organization views him.

Calgary Flames 2023 Top 10 Prospects

Honourable Mentions | #10 Arseni Sergeev | #9 Lucas Ciona | #8 Parker Bell | #7 Walker Duehr | #6 Matthew Phillips | #5 Jeremie Poirier | #4 Connor Zary | #3 Jakob Pelletier | #2 Matt Coronato | #1 Dustin Wolf

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