If there was one goal for the Edmonton Oilers heading into the of season, it was to simply get bigger. Add some size, hopefully attached to some skill and hockey sense and stir.
Benoit Pouliot is a prime example of such a player. Acquired by the Oilers in free agency on July 1st, he was clearly a player who the Oilers management had designs on. His signing was announced only 13 minutes into free agency, signalling that the team had been waiting all week to pull the trigger.
To be sure, Pouliot is no offensive wunderkind. Last season was his career high, with 15 goals and 21 assists. He may have more upside, he may not. Craig MacTavish clearly believes he does, with the insane amount of term Pouliot recieved in his free agency contract (five years, 4 million per).
Forgive Oiler fans if they are nervous. The Oilers once drafted a Pouliot ahead of Mike Richards and Ryan Kesler and it did not go well. THIS IS A DIFFERENT POULIOT. And this Pouliot has great possession numbers. That means that instead of the Oilers having momentary bursts of offensive, they will have players with size who have the puck on their stick more often than not.
Instead of battling in their own zone, the Oilers will find themselves able to sustain an attack in the offensive areas they have had trouble getting into. Pouliot and fellow free agent Teddy Purcell are key pieces to making that happen.
Naturally, taking a chance on players like this in free agency has a certain level of risk. They could both be busts a la “The Two Erics”, Belanger and Cole. However, the Oilers are taking a safe leap of faith. Both players have positive numbers and are in their late 20’s, where players usually have the strongest years of their career.