Benoit Pouliot wears out welcome with Edmonton Oilers

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This in from the Edmonton Oilers, their plan to be rid of winger Benoit Pouliot: Oilers have placed forward Benoit Pouliot on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract buyout. was Pouliot sixth stop in the NHL.

Once hailed as Edmonton best ever free agent signing by Corsi analytics buffs, Pouliot contract now represents a blow to the future prospects of the Oilers. To buy out the remaining $8 million on his contract, Edmonton will have to pay $5.3 million over four years, $1.3 million per year, according to CapFriendly buy out calculator.

If you frame it that way, this sounds like an iffy by the Oilers. But Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli may have plans to exploit the extra cap space that axing Pouliot brings. From the Oilers perspective, they chop a player the coach rightly soured on, get an extra $2.7 million cap space this year and next year, and give up just $1.3 million in 2019 20 and 2020 21.

And all that said, I am sure it was time for Pouliot to go. Yes, his game might have rebounded, but the Oilers have younger, better wingers like Drake Caggiula and Jujhar Khaira to play in his spot. He had become too much of a soft, perimeter player in Edmonton.

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His play crashed this year and by January the roar grew loud to do something about him, either trade him or send him to the minors. On Oilers Now, commentator Bob Stauffer said: “He’s had a horrendous year.”

NHL network commentator Mike Johnson added: “He’s been dreadful. I like him as a player, but he’s been dreadful.”

The toughest critique of Pouliot at that time came from TSN commentator Ryan Rishaug on Jason’s Gregor’s show, when Gregor asked if Pouliot should get some playing with Connor McDavid.

“Absolutely not,” Rishaug said. “You can’t put Pouliot there. He’s been awful. Beyond awful.”

Rishaug suggested the Oilers had been trying to move Pouliot in a trade for some time but without success. “You just can’t move him. The ticket is too high and the production isn’t there.”

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Pouliot had always been a darling of fans and bloggers who use Corsi analysis to rate players, but Rishaug said he didn’t care to hear any kind of stats analysis on this player: “Watch him play, doesn’t work hard enough, not smart enough, makes terrible defensive decisions, isn’t committed enough, the list goes on and on and on. (I) could care less what the numbers say.”

Rishaug was right to be skeptical about the statistical defence of Pouliot, given that Pouliot was the Corsi analytics poster boy from the summer of 2014, when the Oilers were said to have embraced Corsi (on ice shots at net, plus minus) in their decision making process. As Oilers hockey boss Kevin Lowe said on local radio at the time: “We went after puck possession guys with size.”

Pouliot signed a five year contract at a hefty $4 million per. Analytics blogger Tyler Dellow, who was soon to be hired by the Oilers, speculated on his MC79 blog that the Pouliot signing might be Edmonton’s best ever free agent signing. Dellow delved into shot metrics to show how the vast majority of Pouliot’s teammates in the previous three seasons had a better shot share when Pouliot was on the ice.

“This Pouliot deal features sensible money,” Dellow tweeted. “He’s a classic Oiler from the ’96 06 period: A ‘bust’ who can play. This is stunning.”

Hmmm his first two years here, Pouliot put up points at a good clip. Still, it was apparent from his individual contributions to scoring chances for and against in those two seasons that he wasn’t much more than an average two way NHL player. He also missed 24 games in his first year as an Oiler and 27 his second. He’ll be 31 in September, at a time in an NHL career when age and injury often catch up to a player.

We certainly saw this in his physical play. Pouliot averaged 0.6 hits per game this year. In his first year here, he was at 1.2 hits per game. In his final year in New York, Pouliot had 1.8 hits per game. Only Jordan Eberle have fewer hits per game than Pouliot among regular Oilers wingers this year. Milan Lucic was at 2.5 hits per game, Zack Kassian, 2.5 and Patrick Maroon, 2.3.

One more indication that Pouliot was no longer playing heavy hockey was his rate of making shots and passes in the inner slot, the plays that create the most dangerous of scoring chances.

Last year, Pouliot was much better at this task than this year. He made a major contribution to 1.2 Cheap NHL Jerseys Grade A even strength scoring chances per game. This year, he crashed down to 0.8 per game. That’s a major drop off in attacking play and indicative of a player not making enough tough plays in the toughest spot on the ice, directly in front of the opposition net.

Essentially, Pouliot carried himself like a scoring, finesse winger, yet he has just 14 points in 67 games last year. In the playoffs he got n

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