I’ve been public with my opinion on how keeping the third line for the New York Rangers was key to winning next year. That’s not going to happen, as reports are surfacing Benoit Pouliot has signed a five-year deal worth $20 million with the Edmonton Oilers early Tuesday morning.
This will be Pouliot’s sixth team in his eight-year career. After being drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2006, the 27-year-old has been mainly a bust his entire career, never living up to the high expectations bestowed upon him. After only playing 34 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, he signed a one-year deal worth $1.3 million and tallied 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists).
Pouliot is the first domino to fall for the Rangers in free agency. Along with Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman, Pouliot was expected to test the free agent waters once midnight hit on July 1. The winger wanted a multi-year deal worth $3 million a year after rejuvenating his career in the Big Apple on the team’s third line with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard.
Pouliot seemed to chase the money with Edmonton, as no team was expected to pay that much for someone with the winger’s resume. The Oilers have underachieved recently, drafting a lot of great talent (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov) but not turning it around for team success. Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said yesterday it’s hard to sell the Oilers to free agents, yet he just signed Pouliot.
The signing is one less player to worry about for Glen Sather re-signing. Rangers fans hope that Sather doesn’t overpay for someone just to stay in similar fashion to Pouliot. With a tight salary cap, every move is crucial. While Pouliot was the first to go, he might not be the last.