Marc Pouliot appears to have a glorious opportunity to establish himself as a top 9 forward on the Edmonton Oilers 2009-10. Not only have the Oilers cleared Kyle Brodziak from the roster, they’ve also passed on the free agents available (so far) to fill in at 3line C.
The candidates at center include the redoubtable Shawn Horcoff, the wunderkind Sam Gagner, the little flash from the big smoke Andrew Cogliano and the fearless Gilbert Brule.
And hockey’s parade maker, Marc Pouliot. His progress has been slow since turning pro in 2005 but he’s shown some flashes along the way. Mixed in with weird line changes, hilarious attempts at a slapshot and falling down in an effort to win a puck battle have been some genuinely useful things.
I think Oilers fans have a very good overall view of Pouliot. Some examples:
- 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.
- 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).
- Louise: 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.
- Jonathan Willis: I don’t want to trash Pouliot too badly, but of all the prospects this team has (with the possible exception of Jacques), I think a case could be made that the mental/character side of the game is what’s holding him back.
- Black Dog: I think he is a better fit for the Pisani pivot spot, myself; I saw the Toronto Penalty Shot game, as Dennis calls it; he played with Torres and Thoresen and had a terrific game that night. On at the end with the big boys as they tried to equalize. Looked like the sky is the limit.
- speeds: I’m a bigger believer in Pouliot’s upside than most, and think it wouldn’t hurt to check him out with offensive linemates for a couple of games in camp before moving him down the lineup.
- HBomb: Give Pouliot two finishers in Penner and Pisani and give them the 2nd toughest assignments. Heavy PK time for Moreau/Brodziak, and the Cole/Horcoff/Hemsky trio in power vs. power.
- PunjabiOil: I think he can develop his games to become a Reasoner type with solid defensive awareness, but I’m not convinced he will be able to score goals at the NHL level (i.e. More than 10). His shot is very, very average. I think that will prevent him from becoming a top 6 forward, as was initially hoped by Lowe and co.
- Dennis: 78 marches to the beat of his own drummer to be sure; he doesn’t believe in Camp Mendelabum and he doesn’t know or fails to accept a Carbonneau compliment when he sees one.Just because of his low GA/60, I think he should get the third line job.
- Bryanbryoil: I see him at his best on a cycling line with skill. If he were to be lucky enough to get to center a line of Penner and Pisani, IMO he’d be in his element and could be rather productive. I still don’t see top 6 potential in Pouliot yet, but he could be a very solid 3rd line center.
- Lowetide: He played with against about the same quality as Andrew Cogliano and had the identical Corsi and they were extremely close in 5×5/60. At MacT’s last press conference he did say that Pouliot had made some progress and we know that the player and coach had some differences in philosophy with regard to Pouliot’s ideal slot in the batting order. We have to assume Pouliot will get the hint and show up in NHL-level shape this fall. A new coach might mean a fresh start for this player and that could mean an increase in responsibility and the arrival of Pouliot after a long incubation period. And a strong nickname couldn’t hurt. I suggest Sledgehammer.
Pouliot’s boxcars and secondary numbers have some nice things:
- Boxcars: 63gp, 8-12-20, 23pims
- Plus Minus: +1
- Corsi: -4.4
- GF/GA ON: 25-26
- 5×5/60: 1.67
- Quality of Competition: dregs
- Quality of Teammates: 3rd level
- FO %: 48.3% in 211 sorties
- 09-10 Cap Hit: $.825M (nhlnumbers.com)
Two final things: I’ve always cheered like mad for this guy, because he’s a sublime passer. I’ve suggested in the past that he could end up being a small “r” Ratelle (as in Jean Ratelle) and continue to hold out hope that this will come true.
And the final word to Kevin Prendergast, who has given an entire generation of young people an opportunity to use the word hyperbole. However, I believe he gave us the money quote on Marc Pouliot and this organization back in March 2008:
- “He played out of position [in the NHL], wasn’t comfortable and had a couple of bad games and put himself in the doghouse and rightfully so for the mistakes he made.I think we’d have to play him at center though and make the decision that we’d have to live with [his mistakes] for the short term. He just needs consistency; don’t be afraid to make mistakes because they’re going to happen but limit the mistakes.”