Waiting in the Wings: Matt Puempel


Matt Puempel celebrates after scoring (sportsnet.ca)

On October 21st the Red Wings traded Ryan Sproul for forward Matt Puempel, I wanted to give a little bit of back ground and expectation information on this promising prospect.

  • 24 years old
  • 6’1″ 205 Lb
  • Left Handed
  • Drafted 24th overall (2011)

Before being drafted in 2009-2010 season Matt was named the CHL rookie of the year, which helped his draft stock and must’ve caught the attention of the Ottawa Senators. In the 2011 NHL draft Ottawa traded up to the 24th pick, sending the Red Wings picks 35 and 48 (Tomas Jurco and Xavier Ouellet).

Puempel made his pro debut with Binghamton in the ’11-’12 season, but it was in ’13-’14 that his offensive side truly showed. He ended the season tied with Mike Hoffman for team lead in points (30 goals, 18 assists). The following season Matt spent 13 games with Ottawa scoring 2 goals and tallying only 3 points in his short stint, but in 51 games with Binghamton he responded with a well rounded 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists). As the 2015-’16 season came and went, Matt ended the year with 3 points in 26 games played in the NHL and 30 points through 34 games in the AHL. Puempel then made the opening night roster for Ottawa in the begging of the 2016 season, played 13 games and was held off the score sheet. This drought along with the previous two seasons of underwhelming numbers and becoming a regular healthy scratch candidate forced Ottawa to put him on waivers.

The New York Rangers must’ve seen some potential and picked him up, putting him in their line up where in 27 appearances he had 6 goals and 3 assists which included his first career hat trick. All three goals came on the power play (https://youtu.be/VUfpW4HjPCs) it really shows his offensive prowess and of course the highlight of the Mike Smith melt down is delicious.

So where is Matt Puempel now? Well he is easily lighting up the AHL with our own Grand Rapids Griffins. In 10 games with the Griffins he has put up 5 goals and 8 assists. He has stepped into this lineup on to the top line and injected a struggling Griffins team with some much needed scoring touch.

While he is 24 he is still very much a player that, if given the opportunity, can make an impact on an NHL squad. His offense and scoring ability have never been in question its his defensive positioning that some have pointed out as his downside. Coming to the Detroit system where a 2-way game is preached extensively should help him continue to round out the rough spots in his game. I foresee Puempel being a bottom 9 player, provided spaces were to open up in Detroit, or being a very lucrative trade piece if he continues being the point scoring force that has been so far this year.



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