Oilers Sign Pouliot, Jacques

This photo comes from a very famous game. Final day of the 1969-70 regular season, Rangers needed a win to make the playoffs and send the Montreal Canadiens home.

It’s a long, incredible story that we’ve talked about before, but suffice to say the Rangers won 9-4 after firing 65 shots at goalie Roger Crozier. Rangers in photo are Arnie Brown (a defenseman, #4) and the great Jean Ratelle (#19).

It’s Ratelle I’d like to talk about a little today. Ratelle and Rod Gilbert were quality prospects for the New York Rangers in the early 1960s (they came with the Guelph Biltmores during the sponsorship era) and both were highly touted. Gilbert scored 54 goals in 47 games in his final junior season, and Ratelle had 101 points in 47 games the same season. Ratelle was a stylish center, a wonderful passer and playmaker and spent much of his career as one of the two or three most respected players in the game. Despite the tremendous numbers and consistent success, his hockey career almost ended when he suffered a serious back injury at age 23 and had to undergo major spinal cord surgery. He also had at least one contract squabble that saw him come very close to walking away from the game.

Rod Gilbert’s injuries were even more severe. On Marc 3, 1961 Gilbert suffered a back injury in a game and missed all of the following season recovering. Gilbert once told Stan Fischler (and this is courtesy Joe Pelletier) “during a home game I tripped over a cardboard lid from an ice cream container and wound up breaking my back. From that point on I went through hell – trips to the Mayo Clinic, spinal fusion and doubts that I’d play again .”

Ratelle and Gilbert spent several seasons in stop-and-go fashion trying to get traction in the NHL. When they finally emerged, both had terrific careers at the very top of the game.

The Edmonton Oilers signed Marc Pouliot and Jean-Francois Jacques today. I’m not suggesting that these players are going to have careers that rival Ratelle and Gilbert but they certainly have had injury troubles along the way and are taking longer than normal to establish themselves at the NHL level.

I think Pouliot (and his agent) made a very wise decision today. When the Oilers qualified Pouliot earlier this summer it meant that he could be getting a raise on a 1-year deal ($942,000 plus I believe a 5% increase). However, teams and players are free to negotiate with each other and this two year deal gives the Oilers some cap help (cap hit is $825,000 which gives the Oilers about $150,000 a season in leeway) and makes certain Pouliot stays in the NHL (it’s a one-way deal) unless they decide to put him on waivers. It’s unlikely Pouliot will clear, and obviously if he did the Oilers (or any team) would be paying him full price even if he were in the minors. For all intents and purposes, Pouliot is an NHL player as of today.

Jacques’ contract is even more unique. It’s also a two-year deal, the first year is a two-way contract and the second season is a one-way deal. When the Oilers send Jacques out (he’s got back problems) a team plucking him off waivers would have to honor that second season at NHL dollars no matter where Jacques plays. It’s a clever ploy and suggests that the Oilers do have some worry about losing a quality (if flawed) prospect to the waiver wire.

I’m not going to lie, these are two of my favorite prospects. Pouliot’s passing skills are top drawer and it’s my belief he will eventually spend his NHL time with skilled two-way players and be an outscorer. He’s not there yet, but he’s going to get his shot in the next 12 months and if he can stay healthy and keep playing at the level he managed in his final 15 NHL games of 07-08 his contract will be a bargain for the Oildrop.

Jacques is a beast, if you’ve seen him live you know he’s very impressive due to the size/speed combination. I can imagine NHL defenders “hearing footsteps” for a decade or more if this guy can get it together. His AHL numbers suggest he has enough offense to survive at the NHL level, maybe a little better than that. He remains the most intriguing of the Coke Machine drafts of the early 00′s.

For the fall, I’d think this means Pouliot is on the roster either as a 4line center or a utility forward, and Jacques is probably on IR until Christmas when he’ll be sent out to get in shape. My guess is the Oilers won’t expose him to waivers unless they’re certain he’ll slide through.

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14 Responses to "Oilers Sign Pouliot, Jacques"

  1. Jonathan says:

    Borrowing from the NHL’s advertising theme: “Is this the year that Pouliot finally surpasses Zack Stortini as the best Oilers pick in the 2003 Entry Draft?”

  2. Lowetide says:

    Well, when he passes Stortini he’ll need to drive a few miles to get to Brodziak.

  3. namflashback says:

    I know that the GM is not the same man as the coach, but we do know that KL, KP, and MacT are very collegial with each other.

    This were organizational DECISIONS. They have made their decision on their C depth with this signing.

    He will have a defined role. If he fails to stick-it, nobody to blame but himself. If he succeeds, he fills a role this team desperately needs him: 2-way center with some size and ability, right-handed, decent in the face-off dot.

    I pray he succeeds.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Well, when he passes Stortini he’ll need to drive a few miles to get to Brodziak.

    It always bothers me that I think of Brodziak as a 2002 pick because of age, when I know bloody well that he was an overage pick in 2003. Oh well.

  5. Lowetide says:

    I read this summer that Lorne Davis wanted Brodziak in 2002, so you’re in good company.

  6. IceDragoon says:

    Are these, you know, second contracts? I thought Burke said Lowe torpedoed… rr… grenaded(?) the second contract. Moron!
    dammed temptation ;-p

    Yup, the die is cast. It’s up to
    Pouliot, of course, but this deal could prove very good for all concerned.

    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 read this summer that Lorne Davis wanted Brodziak in 2002, so you’re in good company.

    Yup. He was a rather choked in ’02. So, when Brodziak was still there late in ’03, no one dared deny him.

    Kyle caught my eye at the following training camp. His skating was gawdawful, but he could read the play like a vet. I was hooked.

  7. Lowetide says:

    Louise: Interesting. Jeez, if Pouliot turned in a Carbonneau career I’d be thrilled. I wonder if Pouliot knows he scored 20 goals five times and played almost 1200 career games?

    Now if he told Schremp he reminded him of Pierre Larouche then I’d understand.


  8. Black Dog says:

    Ah, classy Jean Ratelle.

    Little know n fact for all of you youngsters out there. Young Oilers Dman Tom Gilbert, also known as Gilbert Gilbert, is the son of NHL great Rod Gilbert, conceived in the back seat of a 78 Chevette after an Old Timers’ game in Cochrane, Ontario.

    The rest is history.

    And good for m. Pouliot.

  9. IceDragoon says:

    Jeez, if Pouliot turned in a Carbonneau career I’d be thrilled.

    No doubt.

    I wonder if Pouliot knows he scored 20 goals five times and played almost 1200 career games?

    And… was difference maker on his teams, including the three Stanley Cup winners.

    Almost 1200, Lain?

    It says here…


    and here…


    … that he played 1318 rs + 231 po gms, averaging ~.5 ppgm. The league only started giving us TOI in his last two years. Even at 38 & 39 years old, he got about third line ice time that increased in the playoffs.

    Well, young mister Pouliot, if that’s not good enough for you… BRING IT!

  10. Doogie2K says:

    If I remember correctly, the Habs had a game later that night, and they needed to score five goals to make the playoffs, outcome be damned. They played half the game with the goalie out as a result, and wound up losing 10-2 to the Hawks and became the first Cup champion in an eternity to miss the playoffs.

    Predictably, the GA tiebreaker was dead the next season.

  11. Asiaoil says:

    That’s a very nice contract number for MAP. Hopefully he can get his head wrapped around the role that is sitting there for him. Horcoff/Langkow have proven that you can get paid very well for this job if you do it well enough.

    Bring in Reasoner or Brown as cheap insurance and then introduce Stortini to reality – then go to camp and see where are in terms of #3C, defense, and enforcer. Make a deal with one of the extra small offensive forwards if we need to upgrade anywhere in early October.

  12. Bill Needle says:

    “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.”

    Maybe he had bigger former Habs in mind, like Stephane Lebeau, Benoit Brunet or Brent Gilchrist.
    Pouliot would do well to get to 1/3 of Carbonneau’s career games played. He’ll need to step it up a notch just to get there, let alone match Carbo’s fine total.
    Let the piling on begin.

  13. Dennis says:

    Louise: I wish I would’ve heard that. We’re having a remarkable stretch of weather here in St. John’s — it’s been sunny and in the 20′s for the last week or so — and though I’m pale as fuck and I burn super easy, I just can’t bring myself to stay in and listen to Stauffer; even if one of my favorite prospects just got signed. So, anything else you want to pass on about that?

    Regarding the pivot depth, 51′s a helluva PKer by the early looks of it and the kid was creating chances before he went on a bit of a goalscoring tear down the stretch; still, if we look at the last two years then 78 should get the Pisani- Plus Checking Line job.

    LT has laid out how the JF contract has been staggered to ward teams off once the Oilers try and put him through waivers after xmas; of course, first they’ll send him down on the conditioning tip and then when he comes back, he’ll go down again for reals.

    The way the contract’s been laid out, there’s a good chance no one will touch him.

  14. IceDragoon says:

    Dennis: I literally heard only a bit, and was compelled to call in for clarification. Cory was busy with the sports headlines and commercials, so I think it was Bob who answered the phone and my question, ~”Did I just hear that right?”

    It would seem that JFJ’s, and last year Roy’s and Brodziak’s contracts come out of Ricky-O’s bag of tricks. Mitigating risks, even slight ones, strikes me as smart business.

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