Due to the New York Rangers‘ salary cap situation this past offseason, they only had the ability to make minor moves. Their “biggest” free agent signing was journeyman Benoit Pouliot to a one-year, $1.3 million deal. So far this season, he is showing why he is a hockey nomad and why he has failed to live up to the expectations of being the no. 4 overall pick of the 2005 NHL Draft.
Pouliot has only four points and an even plus/minus rating in 16 games this season. He has also made brain-dead decisions at inopportune times. This past Monday night, the Rangers had a power play trailing by a goal late in the third period against the Anaheim Ducks. Pouliot took a high-sticking penalty with 1:51 remaining, thus placing his team shorthanded the rest of the game and killing whatever momentum they were gaining.
In Wednesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pouliot handed the Penguins an unnecessary power play in the second period when he covered up the puck deep in his own zone. Pouliot currently is second on the team with 29 penalty minutes.
In his seven-year playing career, Pouliot has already played for five organizations. He was signed by GM Glen Sather for his playmaking ability and to add scoring depth on the cheap. He has never scored more than 16 goals in a season, and has bounced back and forth between the NHL and the minor leagues several times.
Perhaps Pouliot can be the player he has the talent to become for the Rangers at the right time this season. Five other franchises, including the team that drafted him, the Minnesota Wild, have hoped for the same. But until he proves otherwise, his poor play may eventually force the Rangers to jettison him to yet another organization.