Even after opting not to extend pending restricted free agent Benoit Pouliot a qualifying offer on Monday, Steve Yzerman remained confident a deal to add the winger would nonetheless get done.
On Tuesday, it did.
The Lightning agreed to a one-year deal with Pouliot, who was acquired from the Boston Bruins in a trade at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh in exchange for the Bolts’ fifth-round pick and minor-leaguer Michel Ouellet.
Had he not been signed by Tampa Bay, Pouliot would have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Pouliot had previously not been issued a qualifying offer earlier in the week as a result of a strategic move by the team to prevent the forward from invoking his arbitration rights.
A skilled winger who also possesses size with his 6-foot-3 frame, Pouliot is expected to make an immediate impact with the Lightning during the upcoming season. In fact, at the draft this past weekend, Yzerman expressed his desire for the winger to play among the top nine forwards.
“We’re going to give him the opportunity to play with the top guys, and he can even help contribute on the power play,” Yzerman said. “He’ll fit in on the left side somewhere, or anywhere really, it just depends on how well he plays.”
Pouliot is coming off a season with the Bruins in which he registered 16 goals, the second-highest total of his career, and a career-best 32 points and plus-18 rating.
“It's big for me to get a chance to play with Tampa,” Pouliot added. “You never know what can happen, so I'm real excited to get started.”