Pouliot no longer a nomad after signing multi-year deal with Oilers

 

NHL team courted winger early, often and in earnest before signing winger to five-year, $20M deal

 
 
 
 
Forward Benoit Pouliot of the New York Rangers plays against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of Game Three of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final aon June 9, 2014, in New York.
 
 

Forward Benoit Pouliot of the New York Rangers plays against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of Game Three of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final aon June 9, 2014, in New York.

Photograph by: Dave Sandford, Getty Images

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EDMONTON — Having spent the last four years on four different teams, Benoit Pouliot wanted stability. He wanted to put down some roots and if it was with a Canadian team, that would be an added bonus.

So when the Edmonton Oilers offered the left winger a five-year, $20-million contract, he figured there wasn’t much need for contemplation, even if he was leaving the New York Rangers, a team that made it to the Stanley Cup final, and heading to a team that hadn’t made a playoff appearance since 2006.

“Getting a long term deal was my main priority,” said Pouliot, who agreed to terms soon after the NHL’s free agent market opened on Tuesday. This will be his fifth stop in five years.

“I know it’s been a tough few years for them but things can turn around really quickly. They’re a really young team and there’s still work to do but they have some really good players...and it’s the way they play the game.

“They’re fast, skilled and it’s the type of game I like to play,” continued Pouliot, who said the Oilers were not only one of the first teams to talk to him during the negotiating window, but they were also the team that pushed the hardest. Captain Andrew Ference was among those who put in a good word for the club and the city.

“To get that in Edmonton is going to be the perfect set up for me.”

The 27-year-old recorded 10 points in 25 playoff games with the Rangers and posted a career high 36 points in 80 regular season games.

He made $1.3-million on his previous contract.

“Benoit Pouliot was maybe our most important add,” said general manager Craig MacTavish, who is aiming for three offensive lines with Boyd Gordon centring a defensive unit.

He would still like to add a centre but said that if he didn’t, that didn’t mean Leon Draisaitl, the third pick the Oilers took out of Philadelphia on the weekend, would be rushed into the lineup. Instead, Mark Arcobello or Anton Lander would step in if the Prince Albert Raiders star wasn’t ready to make the jump.

As for Pouliot, MacTavish said he was willing to tack on a fifth year in order to stay ahead of the competition.

“We’ve talked about size and increasing our competitiveness and (Pouliot) is a guy who tracks the puck very well. He’s a great skater and we really felt we needed to add that element,” MacTavish said.

“I think there’s every reason to expect he’s going to have a significant impact. We feel like he’s a guy who has really grown and developed through his experiences in the league.

“We need people who are competitive and who get to pucks quickly. We need guys who close gaps quickly and he’s a guy who’s gone from being an enigma early on in his professional career to a guy whose calling card is work ethic.”

MacTavish has revamped the roster considerably since taking over from Steve Tambellini, a turnover that was in full swing this last week. He signed Nikita Nikitin last Wednesday, then four days later, traded veteran Sam Gagner for winger Teddy Purcell and selected Draisaitl at the entry draft.

During the 2013-14 season, he shook up the goaltending situation with the acquisition of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth, dealt Ales Hemsky at the trade deadline and sent defenceman Ladislav Smid to the Calgary Flames. Last summer, he traded captain Shawn Horcoff to the Dallas Stars and traded former first round pick Magnus Paajarvi to the St. Louis Blues to acquire David Perron.

Gagner, drafted by the club in 2007, had been the longest serving Oiler before he was moved. Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Jeff Petry, who all made their debuts in 2010, now share that mantle.

“I knew there was a lot of change that had to occur,” said MacTavish. “I was hoping there wouldn’t have been this dismantlement this year but it takes time to transition your team from an unsuccessful performing group to a high performance group. I think through the course of the last 13 or 14 months we’ve made some pretty good strides, not the least of which will be the development of guys we brought in and drafted.

“I think all these moves are going to go a long ways to addressing a shortcoming in our on-ice performance and I think we can expect to be much better next year.”

Oil drops — Luke Gazdic, who made his NHL debut with the Oilers last season then quickly started to develop a reputation as a willing and an able fighter, agreed to a two-year contract. He was among the restricted free agents who had received a qualifying offer from Edmonton.

jireland@edmontonjournal.com

Follow me on Twitter: @jirelandEJ

 
 
 
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Forward Benoit Pouliot of the New York Rangers plays against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of Game Three of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final aon June 9, 2014, in New York.
 

Forward Benoit Pouliot of the New York Rangers plays against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of Game Three of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final aon June 9, 2014, in New York.

Photograph by: Dave Sandford, Getty Images

 
Forward Benoit Pouliot of the New York Rangers plays against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of Game Three of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final aon June 9, 2014, in New York.
Defenceman Mark Fayne of the New Jersey Devils skates against the San Jose Sharks during the game at the Prudential Center on March 2, 2014, in Newark, N.J.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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