Welcome to the first installment of And You Are….?, a new feature at THTM that takes a look at all those highly touted draft picks that faded into obscurity within a year or two of their first appearances. Essentially, this is VH1’s Where Are They Now for all those household names that never actually stuck as household names.
For our inaugural edition, a disappearing act close to my own heart.
Alexandre Grenier “Sasha” Pokulok
4th overall, 2005 NHL Draft, first pick of the Washington Capitals
Born May 25, 1986 (age 23), Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC, CAN
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight: 220 lb (100 kg; 15 st 10 lb)
AHL: Hershey Bears
ECHL: South Carolina Stingrays
SJHL: Notre Dame Hounds
ECAC: Cornell Big Red
Others in his Draft Year:Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan, Carey Price, Devin Setoguchi, Marc Staal, Martin Hanzal, Tuukka Rask, Steve Downie.
WHERE IS HE NOW??
Currently with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL.
While in all fairness, Pokulok was bound to be overshadowed by the first overall pick in 2005 (a certain Nova Scotian Penguin), he never really stepped out to make a name for himself. His original prospect info likes his size and praises his stick handling abilities, saying “He uses his enormous size and strength quite well, whether it’s protecting the puck or defending against an opposing forward. He possesses a very heavy shot and a long reach. He handles the puck well and has good passing skills.” They do call him out for not being the fastest guy on the rink, but that can always be worked on, right?
One of the first things that stands out about Pokulok, however, is just how many injuries he’s had. While with Cornell, he was out for the entire month of February, as well as the ECACHL conference quarterfinals due to injury. With the Bears, he “suffered a debilitating concussion early in the 2006-07 season, and a second one shortly after recovering from the first.”
And with the Bears, none of Pokulok’s praised puck handling or defensive skill ever seemed to materialize. More often than not, Pokulok was out of position, struggling to backcheck, or missing passes entirely.
Although my favorite nickname for him with the Bears was “Pylon Pokulok,” for the way he stood on the ice and watched the game, the stats show that he was really just outclassed in the AHL. In ‘07-’08 with the Bears, he played in 44 games and had 1 goal, 6 assists, and 43 PIM. However, the season before with the Stingrays, in just 16 games he managed 3 goals and 6 assists, but did still have 22 PIM. Already this season with the Condors, in 17 games he’s got 8 goals, 5 assists and only 10 PIM. As he never made an NHL debut, and seems to be doing better overall in the ECHL, sources point to him just not having the speed and/or game awareness to stick in a higher league.
More than likely though, Sasha Pokulok will just always be remembered, at least by Bears and Caps fans, with the phrase “Hey, wasn’t he the one with the apartment fire?” While in his last season with the Stingrays, he made the newspaper for being one of the folks in his apartment complex caught in an unexpected blaze, expressing thanks that his pregnant girlfriend and their pets were okay.
And that, folks, is where the Capitals’ 2005 First Overall Pick Sasha Pokulok is now.
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