At various times while Benoit Pouliot steps onto the ice, the tantalizing talent which made him the fourth overall pick in 2005 appears evident.
But somewhere between the high expectations after being selected by the Minnesota Wild and his arrival with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season, the talent level and expectations never matched up with his game. In some ways, Pouliot appeared on the verge of becoming the NHL's version of a nomad moving from team to team as somebody would evaluate his game and think the next stop will be the turnaround.
Minnesota lost patience with the 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward after three seasons and shipped him to Montreal early in the 2009-10 season. After a season-and-a-half with the Canadiens, he was cut loose before he signed as a free agent with Boston. The Bruins had no interest in bringing him back, so the Lightning became the latest team to try and get Pouliot to live up to those lofty high-pick expectations when they acquired his rights this past summer and signed him to a one-year contract worth $1.8 million.
Maybe now in his first season with the Lightning, perhaps Pouliot has found a home.
"I've had him in the American League and I thought there was something there and I seen him with the Canadians and I thought there was something there,'' Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher, who was part of the Montreal organization in 2009-10. "And right now it's starting to pay off. I just hope it continues because he has a lot more to offer and I know it.''
Pouliot enjoyed a moment in the spotlight on Saturday, capping off an improbable Lightning comeback with his second goal of the game in overtime to help Tampa Bay end a six-game winless streak. Though it has only been 14 games, Pouliot is beginning to find a comfort zone fitting in with his fourth new team in four years.
"It's getting better and better every day,'' Pouliot said. "At the beginning everything is so different and new, you have to learn new things. But hopefully I'm getting better every day and hopefully I can keep that pace going to help the team out and there will be some positive stuff down the road.''
The two-goal effort on Saturday was the fifth multi-goal game of his career and extended his scoring streak to three games. In the past nine games Pouliot has four goals and five assists, and in the absence of Ryan Malone he's been skating on the second line mainly with Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.
Tampa Bay Lightning's Pouliot settling in fine
Tampa Tribune | Feb 18