The Bruins player everyone was waiting to be a failure provided plenty of fodder for his detractors at the outset of his stint with Boston after arriving via free agency from Montreal.
However, the second half of the season turned into a time for Pouliot to prove people wrong. Did he fully replace Michael Ryder on Boston’s third line? Not quite. Did he finally show why he was drafted fourth overall in 2005? On an individual play here or there, but over the course of the season, not even close.
That doesn’t mean that Pouliot wasn’t a solid pick imported at short money and on a short-term deal. Whether he returns to the Bruins will depend on several situations that have to play out the next several weeks. But at the very least, Pouliot has earned himself another job in the NHL and might even be able to thrive somewhere he’ll get the ice time and the faith of his coaching staff.
Regular season: 74 GP, 16-16-32, plus-18
Playoffs: 7 GP, 1-1-2, minus-1
Contract status: RFA 2012
Regular season recap
Highlight: With just 3:01 left in a game against New Jersey Nov. 15, Pouliot potted the game-winning goal – just his second score of the season. As far as confidence boosts, this was a good one for the speedy forward, who finished with two hits and two blocked shots in just 8:26 of ice time. Later in the season, Pouliot scored highlight-reel goals against Florida and Montreal that might stick out more in people’s minds, but his goal against the Devils was the one that most helped the team.
Lowlight: Pouliot’s first chance to face his former team turned into a disaster in Montreal, as he skated just 8:07 and accumulated six penalty minutes on a pair of foolish penalties. He didn’t receive a second of third-period ice time in a 1-0 win over the Canadiens.
Playoff recap: Pouliot played solid against Washington, but the lasting image will always be him shooting the puck off Mike Knuble at the blue line in overtime of Game 7 and sending the Capitals off to the races for the series-clinching goal.
Grade: C-plus. After a terrible start and a lot of excuse-making, Pouliot found his comfort level and a decent amount of physicality to accompany his speed and make him a serviceable bottom-six forward.
Carnac predicts … after the Bruins let Pouliot walk, I’m sure he’ll get a couple million from some team looking to fill in its bottom six with a guy that could push 20 goals with the right surroundings.