This is Marc Pouliot scoring the most famous goal in his NHL career. Among Oiler fans it is as famous as Jarret Stoll’s Bulldog goal 4 seconds after the faceoff at center, as famous as Jani Rita’s bullet at the World Juniors, as famous as the time Danny Lacouture went Bobby Hull and ripped a bullet from just inside the blueline.
Marc Pouliot has signed a two-year, one way NHL contract with the Edmonton Oilers. It’s as sure a thing as there is in the hockey business, he’s in like Flynn. Marc Pouliot has an NHL roster spot sewn up.
Except that the Oilers have some trouble in the middle and it is personified in Pouliot. They lack proven RH centermen with experience at the same time they are flush with kids who are knocking on the door and looking for opportunity. On the NHL roster (behind Horcoff) we see Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Kyle Brodziak and Pouliot all capable of playing center. Bubbling under is Rob Schremp and sometime this winter the organization will probably make a decision on Riley Nash and when he’ll turn pro. These young men are going to replace Jarret Stoll’s tough minutes and Marty Reasoner’s tough minutes. If Pouliot hadn’t been injured so often as a junior, if he hadn’t lost spring ’06 to mono, if he had more experience this would be less of an issue.
I think the Oilers have decided you have to cheat somewhere in the cap world and this is a good place for it this fall. If Brodziak or Pouliot emerge as solid options in the faceoff circle, on the PK, and can handle tougher sledding (they’re going to get quality, veteran wingers) then the team is going to be stronger come spring with young, inexpensive options in important places.
Pouliot is sitting in a nice position right now. He can fill all kinds of roles on a team whose training staff (the Mandelbaum’s) create more job openings annually than anything since Al Gore invented himself. He could fill in at 3line C, any 4th line slot, he can sit in the pressbox. He can PK, is building a pretty nice resume as a guy who can help slow the bleeding at EVs and does seem to be getting the general idea of what is required to play in the big leagues. He’s been a favorite of mine since they drafted him. Wide range of skills, excellent passing skills and a 2-year, one way contract.
You have to play these kids sometime, but somewhere in the bowels of Rexall Place at least one coach must be thinking about Brian Smolinski (or someone like him) and how many points may be lost because of the lack of experience up the middle.