Interesting comments coming out of the thread below. Marc Pouliot has some pretty strong supporters and some good arguments in his favor. There are two specific items I wanted to focus on from yesterday:
- RiversQ: I’m not sure why everyone overlooks Pouliot’s contribution from two years ago. He posted even better numbers at that time, particularly defensively, over a larger sample size. I think we can stop waffling over the 24 games and realize he’s got the equivalent of a full NHL season playing with middling to poor linemates against middling opposition and his defensive numbers have been stellar.
And yet he still isn’t an NHL regular. Pouliot’s signed contract (two years, one way) means the Oilers are at the very least comfortable with him in a 4-line role and can see him filling other holes should injury and other factors require. Notice I said “at the very least” because they may also feel he’s the first option for checking line center (or whatever we’re calling it these days). My post yesterday suggests Brodziak as the most likely option and that’s still my bet, but as RQ suggests the resume is deeper than just last season’s 24 games.
- Asiaoil: MAP seems the best bet to me as well. The kid has not developed a single outstanding skill (although he’s a pretty damn good passer) but he’s not bad at anything either and he has some size which we need. I think he can keep his head above water on the checking line if he’s pair with say Moreau and Pisani who may also benefit from his passing skills. But who knows – we all made a completely sensible case for Conkanen a few years ago and look how that turned out. It will be an interesting year and I predict at least one of our young centers will be gone at the trade deadline – probably MAP or Cogs).
I would argue that Pouliot’s passing skills (taking a pass on the fly and receiving same) are deadly and as time moves on and he gets to play with skill in the NHL this will become apparent. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who hasn’t played a tremendous amount with what we might call “established NHL players” even when he’s been in the show. It’s one of the reasons Pouliot’s EV/60 number is such a disaster although he has had periods of simply awful results (beginning of 07-08).
I’m at a point with Pouliot where it’s time to cheer like hell. He’s a favorite of mine, just like Hemsky and Stoll and Cogliano and Gagner. Of course, my favorites list also included Chris Hajt, Jani Rita, Alexei Mikhnov and JF Jacques.
I have a friend who brings up the Oilers’ French kids everytime we talk. He’ll say “the Oilers overlook the Q kids” and I’ll list off Ales Hemsky, Marc Bergeron, Marc Pouliot, JF Jacques, Mathieu Roy, Jeff Deslauriers, Slava Trukhno. Leaving aside the Euro kids, that’s 5 young men in a short time (and some nice high draft picks) who come from the Q and are French kids.
IS there some kind of disconnect? As a longtime fan of junior hockey I can say that my bias toward the Western Hockey League (tougher, grittier, more of a man’s game) is still largely held among the people I talk to even though there’s little evidence of that being true. There was a gap between the WHL, OHA and QMJHL many years ago because the OHA had lots of French kids playing in their league (Montreal Jr Canadiens were an OHA team) and many of the top flight players from that province would end up in the OHA.
The Q has long had the reputation of producing quality offensive talent and good goaltenders, the OHL more complete talents and the WHL is the Tiger Williams league (to put it in a complete sentence). Those lines are blurred now more than ever and I don’t really think there’s any evidence of one league being better than the other.
So, what is it? Well, part of it might be the individual player and their maturity level. On July 8 of this year, on this blog (in the thread titles Oilers sign Pouliot, Jacques) Louise posted:
- Interesting bit of radio I just heard. Bob Stauffer said that MacTavish told Pouliot that he sees a ‘Guy Carbonneau’ in him. And apparently, our young C was not impressed. hmmm… Guess the kid still has dreams of grandeur. Certainly can’t fault him for that.
I know Bob and later asked directly and he confirmed. I agree with Louise, you can’t fault him for wanting to bat cleanup, but at this point in his career doesn’t getting in the door and becoming an established NHL player take precedent? And if this is the player’s attitude does that effect the decision making process on the part of the coach?
I’m asking because I don’t know the answer. It’s an interesting problem to have, a kid who thinks he can do more than the organization feels he’s best suited for, and we have had precedent in this organization (“Comrie isn’t a 1line center”).
I love that Pouliot isn’t happy with being a role player on a team handing out big jobs to unproven labor, but I’d also be thrilled if he could become a member of the Carbonneau family of hockey players.
What does it say about Marc Pouliot (and his future) that he apparently balked at it?