Sophomore defenseman Tucker Poolman has been an integral part of the University of North Dakota’s success this season. Since the start of his sophomore campaign, Poolman has developed into one of the NCAA’s most promising defensive prospects.
Poolman this season improved on his freshman point total of 18 points in 40 games, netting five goals and adding 19 assists for 24 points in 38 games. In addition, his +18 was seventh on the Fighting Hawks roster in 2015-16, an improvement of 14 rating points over his freshman showing.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Poolman after practice on Wednesday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL to discuss his development and being a part of the Winnipeg Jets organization, the team that drafted him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
Hockey’s Future: In watching you this season, you’ve made some great strides in your overall development. Can you talk about the areas where you feel that you’ve made the greatest improvements, and about the areas that you are continually improving?
Tucker Poolman: I think it’s being able to play in all situations being a defenseman. I think my puck-handling has gotten better, and I’m making better plays. I’m paying more attention to the little details, especially with my stick work. I think I’ve gotten better there but it’s also where I think I need a little more work on.
HF: Although you’re a defenseman, you have played some forward during your time so far at North Dakota. How much, if any, of an adjustment has that been for you?
TP: I don’t think it’s been much of an adjustment for me at all because, at the end of the day, it’s just hockey stuff. I did have to switch the (mental) focus on doing things being in a different position, but other than that it really wasn’t a big adjustment for me.
HF: One of the things that you’ve done really well this season is utilizing your speed to create space or opportunities. Do you feel that it’s an area that you’ve improved in?
TP: Yeah, I think so. I think I’m finding and getting to open ice better. I just try to get to the open spots and where I need to be to make the best possible plays.
HF: Did you attend the Jets prospects camp this past summer?
TP: Yes, I did.
HF: What was the experience like for you?
TP: It was a great experience for me. I’ve been going to them for about the last two or three years. I’m always learning things. They have great coaches and resources there. And being able to watch the other guys play, you can see what it takes to get to that level.
HF: What was perhaps the greatest thing that you got out of this most recent camp that has helped you become a better player at North Dakota?
TP: We did a scrimmage at the end of the camp where guys were flying everywhere because the speed was just so fast. So I think that’s helped me elevate the level of my game, and I just enjoy that.
HF: Are you planning to attend the Jets camp again this summer?
HF: Have you been in touch with the Jets this season?
TP: Yes. They’ll come by and say hello once in awhile. They’ve come to see some of our games and they’ve watched me this season. But they’ve basically left me alone to focus on what I need to do here at North Dakota.
Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF