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Oilers know Pouliot can help even if he isn’t scoring

Aug 24, 2014, 11:00 PM EST

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Outside of “advanced stats” quarters, Benoit Pouliot has long been considered a bust considering the notion that his scoring numbers haven’t matched up with the expectations that come with being the fourth pick of the 2005 NHL Draft. After all that time, it seems like the hockey world is finally ready to embrace what he can do well … only now he must justify that surprising five-year, $20 million contract.

While fans might want big goal and assist totals considering that $4 million cap hit, it sounds like the Oilers are properly identifying him as a potential possession-shifting forward.

GM Craig MacTavish gave off that vibe to NHL.com, at least.

“It’s the work ethic really for me,” MacTavish said. “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.”

Many have christened this “the summer of advanced stats” and the Oilers’ offseason signings make a pretty strong argument in that regard.

Again, Pouliot might not be well-equipped to silence some critics considering the likelihood that he won’t score dramatically more than before – he’s already 27, after all – but the signing could pay off if expectations are adjusted properly. Pouliot sounded comfortable with a role as a heavy-lifter while discussing that possibility with Oilers Nation, at least.

“Yeah, but that’s fine. You know what, I like that, I like that a lot,” Pouliot said. “I think that last year was the same way, we were a third line. They put us out there with the big players, even in playoffs. In Pitts we got stuck against [Sidney Crosby] the whole playoffs and we did a great job.

“So I thrive to be good defensively. I like it, I like to be able to get the puck out, have a good stick, or all of the details like that. I don’t mind that, it causes us to go on the forecheck on the offense and after that we take care of business.”

It might not always be pretty, but Edmonton needed more players who are adept at doing the dirty work.

  1. succulentnipples - Aug 24, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    Big John Football can help.

    • hockey412 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      Your seemingly innocent man-crush is now bordering obsession. It should be embarassing to you, if you are unaware.

  2. hauger88 - Aug 24, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    as long as he’s not taking any ill timed penalties…

  3. sticks169 - Aug 24, 2014 at 11:59 PM

    Big risk, may involve big reward but only if utilized correctly. Eakins may not have that capability.

  4. bsaures - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    I guess offensive zone penalties are good for advance stats who knew.

  5. hockey412 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    That line did more than just play defense against Crosby and the Pens last year, though. They dominated Crosby’s line. I still throw up a little when I think about it.

  6. roblo76 - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    They better hope so, considering the asinine contract they gave him. Journeymen 3rd-liners all over the league squealed with delight.

  7. chip56 - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    The problem I had with Pouliot last year was that as good as he was at times he would also take the dumbest offensive zone penalties at other times.

    I hope it works out for him in Edmonton but feel like he’s just too frustrating a player to live up to that contract.

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