SING ME BACK HOME

I’m surprised by the number of people who choose to talk about money instead of role when discussing Benoit Pouliot. If we make a list of “responsible two-way wingers who can hit down in the order” since Fernando Pisani left for the windy city, how many can we name? Take your time, I’ll wait—we have all day. Part of the deconstruction of the team (the Tambellini scorched earth) involved selling off all manner of useful, and one of the first casualties was anyone with a two-way skill set. Many the games involving the Oilers would see Ryan Jones lining up in that role, and with respect to Jones (whose eye injury has impacted his NHL career) he simply didn’t fit the job description and Oilers coaching staffs spent several years saying (basically) ‘it is what it is.’

Benoit Pouliot allows us to imagine a world built on logic and reason in the bottom six. Derek Van Diest wrote a series of articles for NHL.com this week, one of them focused on Pouliot. A quote from Edmonton’s general manager frames the issue nicely.

  • MacT: “He’s an excellent skater who closes gaps and is able to get quickly to forechecks, and it’s something that was sorely lacking in our game throughout our lineup. We think that Benoit is going to provide that, and he’s got some ability to finish as well.” Source

BENOIT POULIOT 13-14

  • 5×5 points per 60: 1.79 (6th among regular NYR forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 3.10 (8th among regular NYR forwards)
  • Qual Comp: 10th toughest among regular forwards (3rd line opp)
  • Qual Team: 10th best teammates among regular forwards (3line linemates)
  • Corsi Rel: 7.3 (4th best among regular forwards)
  • Corsi for % 5×5: 55.1
  • Corsi for % Rel 5×5: +3.4
  • Zone Start: 57.8% (6th easiest among regular forwards)
  • Zone Finish: 51.7% (3rd best among regular forwards)
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 141/10.64%
  • Boxcars: 80GP, 15-21-36

Benoit Pouliot did not play a tough minutes role for the Rangers last season, although that third line did take on some tough opposition at times during the postseason. I think the beauty of this player is that he can play a couple of different roles on the Oilers this season:

  • serving as mentor to Leon Draisaitl and or Nail Yakupov on a soft minutes line that gets a zone start push
  • playing on a de facto checking line with Boyd Gordon on what would certainly be a third line in terms of EV minutes.

It gives Dallas Eakins options, something Ryan Jones never could because he was more of an offensive than defensive player. Jones made $1.5 million a year as an Oiler, Pouliot will make $4 million a season in Edmonton. The range of skills, the number of things the new player can do, the responsible play reflected in the possession numbers, make this a ‘perfect fit’ for a roster that boasted the most damnable bastardization of a bottom 6F since the 1974-75 Washington Capitals.

It’s been so long since the Oilers had a third line winger who didn’t jailbreak the zone at the first sign of possession it may take me time to spot Pouliot on the ice. The money is the money, the player is a perfect fit.

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39 Responses to "SING ME BACK HOME"

  1. reckless_abandon says:

    Remember the late 90s? We’ve been so deprived of reliable two-way players that you’re giving us a reminder of a singular shining beacon of dependability on the ice. It’s difficult to think of anyone who plugged away as hard as Pisani over the last 5 years. I miss watching a team that could play lines consisting of players like Grier, Marchant, or Murray. Players who got us into the playoffs during the regular season.

    I love the Pouliot signing. I wish we had another. I hope that Nelson can quickly shape some of the OKC boys into reliable soldiers. We’ve only got a handful of years before our cap situation will resemble what Chicago had to deal with this offseason. If we have any hope of watching the Oilers battle past May, it will be with more Pouliots, and far less Jones/Joensuu fringers.

  2. Lowetide says:

    I think a lot of what we blame on the defense is at least partly due to horrible defensive play by secondary forwards. If you look at the Vollman and count the guys under 50% zone start, that’s a craptastic list.

  3. Woodguy says:

    Actual NHL players cost Actual NHL money.

    Pouliot is a guy who can play up an down the line up as the situation or injuries dictate, and given his NHL results, won’t drag a line down.

    Actual NHL players.

    Its been so long since the Oilers had Actual NHL players at 85%+ of the roster spots that perhaps Oiler fans don’t know what it looks like so they bitch about the money.

    I posted this in a thread the other day after Bob interviewed Eakins:

    Eakins was on Bob’s show today.

    Bob asked Dallas about MacT’s adds this summer.

    I laughed out loud at his response.

    Basically he said:
    “We’ve added Experienced NHLers on the wing and we’ve added Experienced NHLers on Defence, so we’ll be a better team”

    Substitute “Experienced” for “Actual” and its what we’ve been asking for since 2009.

    Actually NHLers instead of Ryan Fucking Jones and Lennert How on Gord’s Green Earth Did He Get A Second Contract Petrell.

    Imagine that.

    Actual NHL players make the team better.
    Who knew

    Let’s put this in terms that may be more familiar to more people.

    Say you have a warehouse with ~2000 different skus.

    You have a trained and competent warehouse staff that picks the orders to ship out to your customers.

    Benoit Pouliot is the lead hand with 8 years experience who can tell you where everything is in the warehouse without looking. His orders are done quickly and efficiently with few mistakes.

    Ryan Jones is the day labourer from cash corner who might do a reasonable job if you give him a job that won’t require him to think too much, but you can’t give him an iota of responsibility because its just not his skill set.

    Those two guys will cost you two different wages.

    The guy with the higher wage will actually bring your company more value.

  4. steveb12344 says:

    Lowetide,

    I’m not surprized that you would like having a Poo on the Oilers’ roster.

  5. RexLibris says:

    I wonder if anyone is going to contrast the Pouliot signing with the recent Setoguchi contract.

    Anyone focused on dollars instead of performance would probably say the latter was the better add.

    It isn’t a straight-across comparison because they are different players being put in different roles, but if you stand just so and squint your eyes just right against the sun you could almost make it look like apples to apples.

    In Pouliot’s case the question I have in relation to his contract is term: will he be a useful player for at least 2/3rds of his contract length? The absence of any clauses means he can be moved at management’s discretion, but he needs to be a useful player not just this season but next and at least one more thereafter. Otherwise the dollar figure will become an issue.

    He’ll need to outpace younger wingers like Moroz in years three and four. We’ll have to wait and see how that works out.

  6. Ducey says:

    steveb12344: Lowetide, I’m not surprized that you would like having a Poo on the Oilers’ roster.

    Come on. LT has been critical of the Oilers lineup in the past, but that’s a little extreme.

  7. Ca$h-Money! says:

    One of Pouliots numbers I like the most is his age.

  8. Lowetide says:

    Ca$h-Money!:
    One of Pouliots numbers I like the most is his age.

    Very good point. Oilers have been signing mid-30′s for so long it’s nice that both Pouliot and Fayne have some blacktop left.

  9. oliveoilers says:

    First comes the money, then comes the power…..

    We shouldn’t Pou-Pou the overpay anymore than we should discount those who say we should pay for the player we get. Pouliot isn’t anymore a $4m a year player than Pisani was. He is a valuable foot soldier, one of those who actually has to do the work quietly, efficiently with minimal of fuss. We have to become moderately successful, ie: make the play-offs on a consistent basis in order to attract the free agents without over-paying. If you’re going to play for a bad team, might as well play in Florida at +30C than Edmonton at -30C. So, we have to overpay these foot soldiers until we can get up the order. The important thing is not to have boat-anchor contracts so that when we are making progress, it hand-cuffs us from signing the next stage of support player like the Sharps and the Hossas.

    I hear the argument “but the salary cap is going up, so it doesn’t matter, this will be the going rate for a 3/2 line two way winger” (and yes, I purposely put 3rd before 2nd). When the credit card company automatically raises your limit without asking, do you rush out and spend to the nuts as well? Big difference between ‘must spend’ and ‘should spend’.

    So the money IS important, but as the old maxim goes: You have to speculate to accumulate. Just hope it doesn’t screw us from taking the next step when we’re ready!

  10. John Chambers says:

    See I like Ales Hemsky. Always have. I was never in the “get rid of him because he’s no longer a ppg player” camp, however nor was I a diehard, “if you trade Ales Hemsky, you might as well steal my baby daughter” camp either. I kind of felt that the team needed to try something different, in a manner that was in no way 83′s fault.

    I think it was totally legit that they got out from under his cap hit, and made something useful with the money.

    Pouliot is Hemsky. They’ll probably produce offense at similar levels, in all fairness. Pouliot IMO has just a bit more upside at this stage of his career.

    I guess what I’m saying is that this was a good re-allocation of the team’s resources.

  11. Wolfie says:

    RexLibris:
    I wonder if anyone is going to contrast the Pouliot signing with the recent Setoguchi contract.

    Anyone focused on dollars instead of performance would probably say the latter was the better add.

    It isn’t a straight-across comparison because they are different players being put in different roles, but if you stand just so and squint your eyes just right against the sun you could almost make it look like apples to apples.

    In Pouliot’s case the question I have in relation to his contract is term: will he be a useful player for at least 2/3rds of his contract length? The absence of any clauses means he can be moved at management’s discretion, but he needs to be a useful player not just this season but next and at least one more thereafter. Otherwise the dollar figure will become an issue.

    He’ll need to outpace younger wingers like Moroz in years three and four. We’ll have to wait and see how that works out.

    There really is no comparison between Setoguchi and Pouliot. Setoguchi has been riding his San Jose days for awhile. His gravy train is reaching the end of the line.

    I split Jets season tickets and was happy when they acquired Setoguchi. What’s not to like, buddy can score a bit…

    Setoguchi was the most disappointing Jet last year. Well either him, Kane or Pavelec. He didn’t deliver enough offence and he’s not very good defensively.

    Come to think of it he kinda reminds me of Ryan Jones….

  12. Lowetide says:

    John Chambers:
    See I like Ales Hemsky. Always have. I was never in the “get rid of him because he’s no longer a ppg player” camp, however nor was I a diehard, “if you trade Ales Hemsky, you might as well steal my baby daughter” camp either.I kind of felt that the team needed to try something different, in a manner that was in no way 83′s fault.

    I think it was totally legit that they got out from under his cap hit, and made something useful with the money.

    Pouliot is Hemsky. They’ll probably produce offense at similar levels, in all fairness. Pouliot IMO has just a bit more upside at this stage of his career.

    I guess what I’m saying is that this was a good re-allocation of the team’s resources.

    Hemsky and Pouliot are different players, but a healthy Hemsky is going to trump Pouliot’s offense by more than a little bit.

  13. supernova says:

    oliveoilers:
    First comes the money, then comes the power…..

    We shouldn’t Pou-Pou the overpay anymore than we should discount those who say we should pay for the player we get.Pouliot isn’t anymore a $4m a year player than Pisani was.He is a valuable foot soldier, one of those who actually has to do the work quietly, efficiently with minimal of fuss.We have to become moderately successful, ie: make the play-offs on a consistent basis in order to attract the free agents without over-paying.If you’re going to play for a bad team, might as well play in Florida at +30C than Edmonton at -30C.So, we have to overpay these foot soldiers until we can get up the order.The important thing is not to have boat-anchor contracts so that when we are making progress, it hand-cuffs us from signing the next stage of support player like the Sharps and the Hossas.

    I hear the argument “but the salary cap is going up, so it doesn’t matter, this will be the going rate for a 3/2 line two way winger” (and yes, I purposely put 3rd before 2nd).When the credit card company automatically raises your limit without asking, do you rush out and spend to the nuts as well?Big difference between ‘must spend’ and ‘should spend’.

    So the money IS important, but as the old maxim goes:You have to speculate to accumulate.Just hope it doesn’t screw us from taking the next step when we’re ready!

    oliveoilers,

    Money does matter but so does driving the team up the standings.

    How else does the team improve without overpaying for Players that are relatively young, a history of positive possession, good size, good speed and playoff experience?

    If Pouliot simply does what he has done the last few years, he doesn’t have to be anything more than he already is, this deal works for the Oilers.

    Oilers have tried the other routes, the next alternative is very likely to be one of the kids traded to get more depth players. I will overpay on free agency before going down that path.

    The Hossa and sharp types won’t come to edmonton until the team improves. Hossa wouldn’t have went to Chicago if they stayed in the bottom 5 he only went there after he could see they would be near the top even without him.

    We need to climb the ladder one step at a time.

  14. John Chambers says:

    oliveoilers,

    You’re not incorrect in the sentiment. It is a pricey mid-6 player.

    However … the Oilers top-6 are on nice nice nice contracts, or will be anyway, and the Barons are going to be piping in defensemen on value contracts. Ergo, funds are available to afford a luxury down-roster, and for us Pouliot is it.

    And let’s face it – this team needs a few Corgi-pushers. Pouliot is maybe over-valued by $1 to $1.5M, because if this player was being paid $2.5M you would be ecstatic.

    You can’t have everybody in the lineup making $1M more than market value, but Hall is saving at least $2M on his contract which allows for this to happen without much consequence.

  15. Frank The Dog says:

    John Chambers: See I like Ales Hemsky. Always have. I was never in the “get rid of him because he’s no longer a ppg player” camp, however nor was I a diehard, “if you trade Ales Hemsky, you might as well steal my baby daughter” camp either. I kind of felt that the team needed to try something different, in a manner that was in no way 83′s fault.I think it was totally legit that they got out from under his cap hit, and made something useful with the money.Pouliot is Hemsky. They’ll probably produce offense at similar levels, in all fairness. Pouliot IMO has just a bit more upside at this stage of his career.I guess what I’m saying is that this was a good re-allocation of the team’s resources.

    IIRC Hemsky, like Horcoff, saw no end to the appalling coaching and player usage and politely asked to be traded. MacT had no choice in the matter. Had he not traded Hemsky, then Hemsky would have left the moment his contract expired.

    I’m sure we have lost more than games trough poor selection, coaching and player allocation in the past, but I also feel that with all of MacT, Ramsay, Rocky, Dellow, and MacT’s new adds in place we can perhaps finally, finally, see genuine improvement this season.

    I’m not including Eakins, because like many others I was less than impressed with what I saw of his coaching and leadership last year outside of his pressers. He’ll have to lean on his associates to prove that he has what it takes to leas the team to the promised land. I think he can be an average to good coach, not sure good enough for the final lap, but prepared not to write him off just yet.

  16. steveb12344 says:

    Ducey: Come on.LT has been critical of the Oilers lineup in the past, but that’s a little extreme.

    You do know who “Poo” is, right?

    What did you think I meant?

  17. Ducey says:

    steveb12344: You do know who “Poo” is, right?What did you think I meant?

    Yeah, I was trying to be funny.

    Read your sentence again. Think golden shower. :)

    I’m not surprized that you would like having a Poo on the Oilers’ roster

  18. John Chambers says:

    Lowetide,

    My sentiment differs. The Oilers can’t give more pp minutes away, so Hemsky’s value was under-used here. It was time to let that bird fly. What they need of course is a depth winger, and they got one of the best in the business.

    But if we re-visit these players in two years when Hemsky is 33 and I doubt he’s a .5ppg player. There’s a chance he goes all Gaborik in Dallas, but I’m of the belief it’s not going to return to his 2008 vintage.

  19. Lowetide says:

    Ducey: Yeah, I was trying to be funny.

    Read your sentence again.Think golden shower. :)

    I’m not surprized that you would like having a Poo on the Oilers’ roster

    Actually, you WERE being funny. I laughed. :-)

  20. Hammers says:

    The funny thing is both Pouliot or Purcell may actually be on the 1st or 2nd line . If the plan is to really have Gordon on the 4th line ( though getting good minutes ) we can really look at line combinations that are not expected . Hall , Purcell ??? , Ebs & Yak ??? Pouliot , Perron ??? . Eakins has so many combos he can dream up that his biggest problem may in fact be deciding who plays with who both from a winger and center perspective . We all assume it will be RNH / Hall / Ebs but don’t bet on it . They may insert a bit more size and or puck possesion types to there lines .

  21. Ryan says:

    Good Gord. If this isn’t the best little tidbit that I’ve read in these past few months, then I don’t know what is…

    “Craig MacTavish added some defensive help this summer, in Mark Fayne and Nikita Nikitin. You may feel that isn’t enough, but a quick glance at some of the men who lined up on the blue one year ago brings the upgrade into sharp focus.”

  22. oliveoilers says:

    John Chambers,

    supernova,

    Actually, you guys framed what I was trying to say perfectly! Thanks, and have a great lazy Sunday!

  23. PeOiler says:

    Off topic tidbit: Tkachev is listed at 163 lbs today for an exhibition game in Cornwall. I’m not attending (unfortunately, the buses don’t run here on Sundays) but @IslesLive is covering the game on twitter if anyone is interested.

  24. Lowetide says:

    PeOiler:
    Off topic tidbit:Tkachev is listed at 163 lbs today for an exhibition game in Cornwall.I’m not attending (unfortunately, the buses don’t run here on Sundays)but @IslesLive is covering the game on twitter if anyone is interested.

    thanks!

  25. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    Frank The Dog: IIRC Hemsky, like Horcoff, saw no end to the appalling coaching and player usage and politely asked to be traded.

    I’m too lazy to source it but I believe it all started in the immediate aftermath of MacT taking the reins. He said in short order that some players would do better to move to a different city and strongly implied that was Horcoff and Hemsky. To further add to that, in the season end pressers Hemsky was asked if he was wanting to be traded by the MSM but he stated he wanted to stay but it was in MacT’s hands. I recall him looking rather disappointed at that year-end and by the next training camp he seemed resigned to it. That’s my recollection anyways – MacT tipped his hand to the player and everyone else well before there was talk of Hemsky’s consideration of it.

  26. RexLibris says:

    Wolfie,

    I wouldn’t compare the two, but certainly someone else will find a way. Depth wingers signed as UFAs playing for opposing Alberta teams. All the insignificant circumstances match, and it provides material for anyone with an anti-Oilers agenda.

  27. spoiler says:

    Pouliot’s stats, to my eye, make him look like a soft minutes killer as opposed to a power vs power puncher like Hall or a hard minutes muncher like Gordon. His zone shift doesn’t fit his Corsi profile, but he’s still a useful player.

    The Oiler second line was a black hole last year, perhaps due to its center, but we still don’t have a proven replacement for that spot. Having a wingman like Pouliot there will be a big help to Arco, if that’s the direction the Oil decide to go.

    I am expecting some boneheaded Moreau-vian penalties though.

  28. nycoil says:

    John Chambers:
    See I like Ales Hemsky. Always have. I was never in the “get rid of him because he’s no longer a ppg player” camp, however nor was I a diehard, “if you trade Ales Hemsky, you might as well steal my baby daughter” camp either.I kind of felt that the team needed to try something different, in a manner that was in no way 83′s fault.

    I think it was totally legit that they got out from under his cap hit, and made something useful with the money.

    Pouliot is Hemsky. They’ll probably produce offense at similar levels, in all fairness. Pouliot IMO has just a bit more upside at this stage of his career.

    I guess what I’m saying is that this was a good re-allocation of the team’s resources.

    With all due respect, Pouliot won’t bring Hemsky’s offense even though he is a bit younger and Hemsky is older. Not even close. Completely different player types. It is funny you bring it up, because on a different team I would much rather have Hemsky for 3 years x $4M than Pouliot for 5 years x $4M, but change was needed. Something had to give with Hemsky in Edmonton.

    Moving on, I’ve said it a hundred times here on this blog. I wanted the Oilers to sign Pouliot this offseason and suggested it several times during the season well before the Rangers’ run because I thought he was first and foremost a good possession player and a more than passable checker. Moreover, with him, offense doesn’t die on his stick when he has to bat higher in the order. But the key was that I thought he would come at a relative bargain because he has bounced around the league on one-year contracts for a while now. I thought the Oilers’ overpay would be $3M x 3 years for this type of player, vs. other teams offering closer to $2.5M. That flew out the window with this $4M x 5 year deal. I respectfully submit that you can’t NOT talk about the money and term. It was a significant overpay for this player, and just because the Oilers have the cap space doesn’t mean they should tie it up in longer term deals.

    Why can’t I like the player but hate the contract? Do the Oilers need more Pouliots? Sure, they could probably use one more for the 4th line if they were contenders, but otherwise one is enough for now.

    He’s going to bring:
    Size: But he doesn’t hit in a crash, boom, bang, fashion, so Oiler fans are going to complain he doesn’t use his size well.
    Me- Doesn’t matter, he’s got good reach in a Marincin but on forward sort of way.

    Defensive acumen: I don’t think Oiler fans will complain about his excellent checking skills too much, but he takes a lot of offensive zone penalties, and I assure you they will stick out like a sore thumb to some in the Oilers’ fan base. I attended 15 or 16 Ranger games last year including the playoffs and in my section the fans can’t stop complaining about those o-zone hooking calls.
    Me- I can overlook the penalties because of what he brings, but I don’t expect everyone to be that forgiving.

    Skill: Can skate, make a pass, take a pass. Gets a decent number of partial breakaways or odd man rushes. Tends to miss the net or shoot right at the goalie. Given all his chances, he could have and probably should have been a 20~25 goal scorer last year. This will frustrate fans, too, if Ranger fans are any indication.
    Me- Gotta have the puck to get a scoring chance, so that’s a good thing. Given we are talking about the Oilers, I’ll take it.

    Good player, glad we have him. Still annoyed we had to pay so much money and term to land the journeyman.

    If he turns out to be worth the money for the duration, and even a bargain, it will have come from additional growth as a player, not the player of the past couple of years, in my opinion. That could happen, of course. I’m not saying it won’t. But if he is the same player he was last year, with no growth, then it’ll be an overpay. He has the pedigree to blossom here. He may well do it. I will be cheering for him despite not liking the contract at this time.

  29. Ducey says:

    nycoil,

    You keep mentioning the penalties but I can’t see it.

    He had 56 PIM last year. 20 of those were majors. That’s means he got 23 penalties. In 80 games that is about one every 4 games. Not all of those would be for hooking.

    In the lockout year he got 15 minutes of penalties in 34 games. That’s 5 minors. Tops.

  30. nycoil says:

    Ducey,

    I don’t think they are that bad or as prevalent as Rangers’ fans like to think. As I said, I tended to overlook them, but man did people complain a lot. The best answer is he had his fair share of ill-timed penalties that stuck out in people’s minds, either because of coming at an important time in the game or because the puck wasn’t near the play.

    It’s saw him bad at its worst, I don’t disagree with that. But people were even blogging about it at times:

    http://www.rantsports.com/nhl/2014/04/30/new-york-rangers-benoit-pouliot-must-stop-taking-penalties/

  31. bendelson says:

    nycoil,

    So, to summarize your ongoing narrative on Pouliot (and thank you for it):

    It’s not necessarily the volume of penalties taken but rather the quality/location/timing of the penalties taken that we are being forewarned about…

    …as well as the likely overreaction to said ‘bad’ penalties from rabid Oiler fans…

    …who will inevitably turn to his UFA contract and attack any chance they get.

    Meanwhile, his advanced stats will quietly impress.

    That about right?

  32. RexLibris says:

    nycoil,

    I was going to suggest, it may not be the number of penalties so much as the timing that makes it feel like such a major factor in fans’ eyes.

  33. bendelson says:

    RexLibris,

    Great article the other day.
    It was a pleasure to read.

  34. nycoil says:

    bendelson,

    Yes, sir! That’s it, exactly.

    RexLibris,

    Yes, I failed to communicate that clearly it seems, before. Thanks for helping me to clarify.

  35. RexLibris says:

    bendelson,

    Thanks. I appreciate the feedback.

  36. RexLibris says:

    nycoil,

    Meh, no worries, the message was there, but you had to supply the evidence in your statement whereas I just had to support the supposition.

  37. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Oh don’t bring up Hemsky… you’ll just make me cry and cry.

  38. russ99 says:

    Option B please. We need a shutdown line, especially vs. the most prolific first lines in the conference.

    Pouliot – Gordon – Purcell is our best potential one in years, and they can contribute on the offensive side as well.

    That would by my second line with Perron – Draisaitl – Yak getting the soft minutes on the third.

    I hope Eakins/Ramsay/MacT have moved off this “put a big on every line” ideal and understands that it’s past time that we run lines that give us the best chance of success.

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