Benoit Pouliot has had an interesting career to say the least. He was drafted 4th overall by the Minnesota Wild back in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft; he really has not lived up to his expectations thus far. He has however, developed into a nice depth player who can put up solid numbers on a good team. The problem that Pouliot faced as a young player was being rushed into the National Hockey League before he was ready. He is a big man at 6 foot, 3 inches, and he was counted on to be the big power forward for years with the Wild. Unfortunately, this did not work out and after struggling in the 2009-2010 season, he was traded to the Montreal Canadians where he enjoyed some moderate success. He then signed with the Boston Bruins which I think really helped his career turn around. There he learned how to play be a little more defensive under Claude Julien while keeping his offensive flair.
After all of that, amazingly, Pouliot is still just 25 years old and is looking for a fresh start to try to become the top 6 winger that he has always been projected for. The Lightning needing some forward depth traded for his rights and soon after signed him to a one year deal to hopefully create the perfect marriage. This gives Pouliot an opportunity to show teams around the league that he is ready to “make the leap” to the next level. He will have every chance in the world to make the top 6 on this team with superstars all around him. The worst case scenario would probably be him ending up on the 3rd line to provide some great scoring depth on this team. This really will be a big year for Pouliot as it will determine if he will be a scoring winger or a depth role player in his career. If he can utilize his skill with some of the other offensive players on the Lightning then he could be in line for his best season yet. Unfortunately because of his defensive skills he could quickly find himself in the dog house.
In my lineup projections for this year, I have Pouliot on the 3rd line with Tommy Pyatt and J.T Brown to create an energetic scoring line that has a defensively reliable center in Pyatt. This line could be exactly what the Bolts need as it would make the opposition have to defend 3 solid lines making it extremely tough to play against Tampa Bay. I am sure that Coach Guy Boucher is salivating over mixing and matching lines with all of the depth General Manager Steve Yzerman has acquired but a guy with Pouliot’s skill has to be making Boucher do backflips. Expect to see a few dazzling plays like this one by the big, young forward.