In the months leading up to his draft, Marc Pouliot was flattened by Dion Phaneuf at the top prospects game. He would endure injuries great and small afterward, from mono to pubis and back again.
I followed MAP’s career so long he became MP, and watched him long enough to see him as an extra in another rebuild. In October 2007, Craig MacTavish said “Pouliot has a ways to go, but it looks to me like he’ll get there. He thinks offensively with those kids. I saw some heady plays with them on the cycle” on a night when Pouliot was fourth line with Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano. He had 12 shifts, played 10:13, and didn’t place a crooked number anywhere in the boxscore.
Nowadays, Pouliot is remembered for all kinds of things, or not at all. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I think he could have had a career if the organization had played things differently.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group, here’s an incredible Offer!
- New Lowetide: Examining the potential waiver-wire opportunities at hand for the Oilers
- New Lowetide: Cooper Marody’s utility gives him an edge for an Oilers roster spot in 2019-20
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s roster construction options for the Oilers over the next seven months.
- Lowetide: Kailer Yamamoto has the talent to win a job with the Oilers on merit, if he’s healthy.
- Jonathan Willis: Jesse Puljujarvi still has upside and the Oilers’ patient approach is the right one
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Dave Tippett on rounding out his coaching staff, fixing Oilers’ special teams and using Connor McDavid
- Lowetide: Handicapping the Oilers’ young defencemen and their chances of replacing Andrej Sekera
- Lowetide: Is Kirill Maksimov progressing as the Edmonton Oilers’ next great hope for a true homegrown sniper?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers ease pressure on crowded defensive pipeline by trading John Marino to the Penguins
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the 2021-22 Oilers might look like after their steady build toward contender status
- Lowetide: Joel Persson is ideally situated to win an opening night roster spot with the Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the 2019-20 Oilers might look like without trade missteps.
- Lowetide: Finding the best candidates for the final two spots on the Oilers skill lines in 2019-20.
- Jonathan Willis: Projecting the Oilers’ opening night lineup, line combinations and more.
- Lowetide: Does the James Neal acquisition impact Oilers’ prospects in 2019-20?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ acquisition of James Neal could add badly needed scoring to the top two lines.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ken Holland puts his stamp on the Oilers with first big move in Lucic-Neal trade
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Holland ends an ugly situation for the Oilers by trading Milan Lucic for James Neal
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Potential free-agent options for the Oilers in 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Which Oilers defencemen can make an outlet pass?
- Lowetide: Looking ahead to Oilers training camp: 35 players for 23 jobs
- Jonathan Willis: Josh Archibald won’t fix the Oilers’ biggest problems, but he’ll help with some key issues.
- Lowetide: Will the 2019-20 Bakersfield Condors be the Oilers’ best minor-league team ever?
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
In 2006-07, Pouliot’s rookie season, he scored 4-6-10 in 46 games, 511:29 even strength time on ice. That’s 1.17 even strength points per 60, or about what Ty Rattie did a year ago. He was 21. The following season (1.54 in 233 minutes) showed small improvement, but at 23 MAP posted 1.66 in 649 minutes and I thought he was gaining momentum. His most common linemates were Ethan Moreau and Cogliano, and he played 63 games (8-12-20). In 2009-10 things got weird, Pat Quinn was coach and things were just on the other side of unusual. However, Pouliot posted 2.03 points per 60 at even strength alongside men like Zack Stortini and Ethan Moreau.
That season, 2009-10, was the last real season of his NHL career. I’ll go to my grave believing he could have been a productive NHL player. No minor league team, the mistakes of youth, Pat Quinn (God bless him) perhaps a little too long in the coaching game.
The Oilers weren’t down on Pouliot, in fact during the Lowe-MacT years he was always one of the prospects discussed as having a future. Steve Tambellini traded Kyle Brodziak and kept Pouliot (by then they were applying for the same job). This despite some clear evidence Brodziak was a better player. About one month before the team dealt Brodziak, I wrote:
“I’m no expert at sussing this stuff out, but it looks to me like they had somewhat similar seasons in terms of offense. 5×5/60 is very close, and their GF/GA ON is also close. The difference is that Pouliot did it with below average help and Brodziak did it (based on Desjardins and eyeball) with guys who would need a day’s drive to get to below average. This would also account for the bad Corsi (you try dragging these people all over the ice) compared to Pouliot.”
I’m writing this to you because there’s a lot to remind me of me and Pouliot back in 2003. So much has to go right and so much can go wrong. Here’s another thing I wrote when Pouliot was no longer a part of the organization:
“He was actually injured before the draft–at the Top Prospects game in 2003 when Dion Phaneuf leveled him with a vicious (and clean) check. In the summer of 2003 he got hurt at the Canadian WJC camp in Calgary (hip) and that had a major impact on his 18-year old season. It also hurt his performance at the Oilers rookie camp just two months after being drafted. In November 2003 he suffered an abdominal injury and missed the Q/Russia prospects game and he played on 42 QMJHL games that season, finally having surgery in Montreal in summer 2004 to repair the abdominal tissues. He played 3 weeks with a broken wrist during the 2003-04 season. Mono just before the Stanley run. Possibly a major impact on his career. Pubis thing.”
Injuries. Coaching changes. Entire seasons played as an orphan in the AHL. Terrible line changes in the NHL and sins of postgame spread etiquette made famous by veterans. Management making the wrong call and trading the better player. I’m telling you now so you’ll know, even if you don’t believe me: Some of the young players you are counting on aren’t going to make it. Full stop. It behooves you to at least allow for the possibility your favourite prospect will land outside the NHL for the heart of his career. The Pouliot-Brodziak lesson also addresses reasons for keeping Jesse Puljujarvi, who even at this point is the best young forward prospect in the organization.