Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish entered the opening day of free agency aiming to make his team bigger and faster. He feels he did both by signing center Benoit Pouliot and defensemen Keith Aulie and Mark Fayne on Tuesday.
Aulie (6-foot-6, 228 pounds) and Fayne (6-3, 210 pounds) bring size to the blue line. Pouliot (6-3, 197 pounds) played for the New York Rangers last season; he adds speed and could take the spot of Sam Gagner, who was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday in a deal that brought back 6-3, 203-pound forward Teddy Purcell.
Edmonton also re-signed 6-3, 240-pound forward Luke Gazdic to a two-year contract.
"They all have size," MacTavish said during a press conference after the signings. "We added a lot of size in the last two days. We haven't touched the core group of guys we ended the season with and we've added what we think is a much more well-rounded complement to those players with size and speed and puck pursuit.
"All these moves are going to go a long ways to addressing a serious shortcoming in our on-ice performance, and I think we can expect to be much better next year."
MacTavish said he went into Tuesday targeting Fayne and Pouliot. He got both: Pouliot signed a five-year contract worth $20 million and Fayne came to terms on a four-year, $14.5-million deal. Aulie signed a one-year, $800,000 contract.
Pouliot, 27, has played for five NHL teams; he had 15 goals and 36 points in 80 games for the Rangers last season, then put up 10 points during their run to the Stanley Cup Final.
"Pouliot was our most important addition because we needed someone with speed," MacTavish said. "We talked about size, we talked about increasing our competitiveness and he's a guy who tracks the puck very well and pressures the puck very well. He's a great skater and we really felt we needed to add that element."
MacTavish said Fayne is a solid, no-frills defender.
"With Mark Fayne, it brings us a guy that really makes simple plays with the puck but makes them highly effectively," he said. "He's a very good defender. I think he fits into that role."