Reasonable Expectations for 08-09 (Pouliot)

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.

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.

Prediction for 08-09: 75gp, 7-19-26 (.347 per game).

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17 Responses to "Reasonable Expectations for 08-09 (Pouliot)"

  1. Jonathan says:

    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.

    The problem with the guys available (Smolinski, Curtis Brown, etc.) is that none of them are an especially good fit. Brown’s a long-shot wildcard who I like signing on principle, while Smolinski is a guy who can contribute in a variety of ways but has no foot-speed whatsoever; he was never fast to begin with and he’s slowed down.

    If they pick up a guy, I think it’s through trade, and if it’s through trade, I think the logical candidate going the other way is Marc Pouliot or Kyle Brodziak.

  2. Sean says:

    I’m with Jonathan. I dont consider the options (Smolinski, Curtis Brown, etc.) to be much of an upgrade and both Brodziak and Pouliot have higher upside at this point in their careers. They really only need one of 51 or 78 to succeed for the gamble to be worthwhile.

  3. spOILer says:

    Brown is a LH shot IIRC, and we need a rightie.

  4. spOILer says:

    There are really no good options out there besides trade. Might as well see what Pouliot, Brodziak or Cogliano can do at 3C before pulling the trigger now.

    My expectations for MAP include seeing his FO % rise back to the above 50% number it was a couple of years ago.

    My scoring expectations are about the same as LT’s… be nice if he potted ten, but I’m not holding my breath.

    But perhaps his most important expectation centres on his control of hemophilia.

    I’m hoping for a plus or nearly plus player say no worse than -5, while maintaining his low event status at EVs. GFON 1.65, GAON 1.85 would do nicely (can’t ask for much more in terms of GFON if he’s playing with Ethan, although hopefully he gets the Air Moreau version as his winger and not Bird Bones, cause the kid can pass).

    Now if Cole or Penner ends up being his winger, I expect slightly better assist totals. If it’s Penner, my GAON expectations may be too great.

  5. ClaytonMagnet says:

    I think that the winner of the 3C job could be simply the one that proves to be the best faceoff man. IMO, that’s the most glaring vacuum left by Reasoner and Stoll.

    Also, don’t forget about Brule. He’s a RH centre, and went 51.3% in the circle over 61 games last year. Not sure how many attempts though.

  6. spOILer says:

    Only 78: 40-38=78 for 51.3%. CBJ went with 3 main guys with Manny taking the bulk and excelling.

  7. goldenchild says:

    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.

    This is the tyoe of stuff that has me reading the blog daily, great stuff LT. Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum! haha.

    As far as Pouliot I think everyone agrees, his fans and critics alike, that this year is the tipping point, either he proves he’s a player or he doesn’t. I’m a fan, I think he has shown that he’s certainly able to play an important role on this team and he just needs to prove he can do it consistantly. based on his pedigree and what we have seen from at the end of the last couple of seasons I think he can win that #3 C job and if he centers Pisani who he played well with at the end of last year and lets say Penner I think he can be in that 30-35 pt range and be an effective 5 on 5 player this year.

  8. dawgbone says:

    I think Pouliot is going to be a big suprise this year.

    He’s most likely going to get some quality wingers lining up with him for more than a couple of shifts for the first time in his NHL career.

    I’m giving him a 13-30-43 point season if he plays 82 games.

  9. namflashback says:

    Clayton,

    The 3C role has way more dimensions. FO% is practice and experience driven. Different tricks and gimmicks that the more experienced opposition will pull out of the bag to exploit. That part is going to suck. It just will.

    But defensive reads (complex coverage when the opposition switches position or cross over), tenacity (win more battles), and smart transition (i.e. no panic) are what will create success here. I’m pretty sure that Brodziak has the work ethic required to make the try — but Pouliot has the more likely skills. Let’s hope he just says to himself that he will do anything the coach says in order to cement his status with this contract.

    Because if he could be even a glimpse of the “Guy Carbonneau” player that MacT sees in him — that would be a beautiful thing.

  10. Traktor says:

    “I’m giving him a 13-30-43 point season if he plays 82 games.”

    You have him penciled in on the 2nd line? I can’t see him putting up those numbers playing tough mins, even with Cole and Pisani by his side.

  11. Traktor says:

    I have Pouliot somewhere around 8G 15A 23P assuming he makes the team.

    I just can’t see Pouliot beating out Brodziak for the 3C job. The only thing Pouliot has in his corner is he has shown some nice chemistry with Pisani in the past.

    Brodziak has gotten better every single year since 2000-2001. Sure Pouliot might come to camp improved and closer to making an impact on the roster but I think Brodziak will be looking better as well.

  12. Dennis says:

    It’s really hard for me to come up with a point total for 78 as the amount of depth on this club really makes it hard to pin down his role and corresponding linemates but I think I saw enough down the ’08 stretch to believe this guy has value as a fellow who’s hard to score against.

  13. Jonathan says:

    I just can’t see Pouliot beating out Brodziak for the 3C job. The only thing Pouliot has in his corner is he has shown some nice chemistry with Pisani in the past.

    I tend to agree. While Pouliot seems like a low-event player, Brodziak just seems like a better hockey player, period. Plus, Brodziak certainly has MacTavish in his corner after last season, while Pouliot almost as certainly doesn’t after uninspired training camps.

    I think 3C is a role Pouliot is better suited to than Brodziak, but I think 51′s going to get the first shot at the job (unless the kid line is broken up).

    I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Traktor.

  14. Traktor says:

    There goes your credibility.

    Seriously though, why bet on a guy who has been up and down his entire career and has yet to show up to camp ready to go when there is a guy who’s arrows have been pointing in the right direction for 7 or 8 years waiting in the wings?

    As nice as Pouliot looked for his 2nd stint last year, guys like Potulny and Brule are a couple workouts and few protein shakes away from doing what Cogs and Gags did to Schremp.

  15. spOILer says:

    Traktor, I think you may be right with those point totals and the 4C position.

    If Penner or Cole are going to play the 3rd, might as well have Brodz at centre.

    Penner espeically would work well as Brodz is a good in the zone tight passer out of the cycle. Cole should really be with passers and players who handle the transition better.

    So, as was stated in the previous thread, maybe the best bet is to run Penner at 3LW at EVs, with 1st PP time, run Cole at 1LW at EVs, and use Moreau at 3LW for late in our zone FOs.

    But this all assumes the Waterbug Line swims together…

    Will that, can that, continue to happen?

    I have difficulty believing that line will survive together long term.

  16. dawgbone says:

    I don’t know if it’s much of a stretch.

    Let’s look at some history:

    Pouliot has yet to receive major minutes with anyone who has demonstrated offensive ability. Despite that, he’s managed to generate chances for himself and linemates.

    If they go with a Penner-Pouliot-Pisani line for the 2nd batch of tough minutes, he’s pairing up with 2 guys who can find the net. He’d also probably be the best passer Pisani’s played with on a regular basis.

    Also, I think this line would be the 2nd line at ES, giving them more minutes than the kids. It’s definitely a lofty goal, but the one offensive skill Pouliot has is the ability to make and receive a pass… and his potential linemates this year will be able to do make better use than his previous linemates did.

  17. R-Gib says:

    I’m with this Traktor guy also. I see 51 starting at 3C with Cole and young speed on the wing… maybe even (dare I say it) Schremp or Brule.
    I like 78 in the 4C role with Pisani and el Capitan-o. It would be a shame to break up 78-34, and I like Ethan on the other side.
    In this scenario we’re rollin 4 tho, and I see not a lot of difference between 3rd and 4th line mins. This is all dependent on the kid line staying put tho… and lets be honest, when they hit a rough patch I can guarantee MacT splits them up and hits max power on the line blender.
    The 2C PK role is another question mark… who is gonna take the draws behind Superhorc? I see a tryout period with 13, 51, 78, and maybe even Brule getting a shot.

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