The St. Louis Blues have announced that Vince Dunn, Austin Poganski, Mitch Reinke and Jake Walman have all received qualifying offers, keeping them in the organization. That means Derrick Pouliot and Jake Dotchin, who did not receive offers, will become unrestricted free agents on Friday.
The decision to let Pouliot and Dotchin walk doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as both players would have been arbitration-eligible and obviously do not figure into the Blues plans at this point. Each was once an up-and-coming young defenseman with plenty of potential, but both have flamed out over the last few seasons.
Pouliot, 26, was the eighth overall pick in 2012 and quickly became one of the top defensive prospects in the entire league. An incredible final year of junior hockey that saw him score 102 points in 79 games made Pittsburgh Penguins fans salivate at his potential, but after arriving in the NHL the next season obvious warts began to show in his defensive game. Pouliot ended up spending time bouncing between the minor leagues and NHL for years and now six years into his professional career has just 202 games played at the highest level. In 2019-20 he spent almost the entire season in the minor leagues with the San Antonio Rampage, suiting up just twice with the Blues.
Dotchin meanwhile wasn’t a high draft pick like Pouliot, but still quickly found himself playing next to Victor Hedman0 after arriving in the NHL. The sixth-round pick in 2012 debuted with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2016-17 and played 83 games with the team over two seasons, but saw his contract terminated in 2018 after showing up to training camp out of shape. Since then, Dotchin has played in 20 games with the Anaheim Ducks but spent the entire 2019-20 season at the minor league level with the Rampage.
Both players could land new deals elsewhere, but a qualifying offer and arbitration award was never going to make sense for the Blues.