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Pouliot looking forward to fresh start with Sabres

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

After sending Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno to Minnesota in the deal that got them Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville on Friday, the Sabres have begun to replenish their depth on the left wing with the addition of former Edmonton Oiler Benoit Pouliot.

The Sabres signed Pouliot to one-year, $1.15 million contract on Saturday. It was the team's second move of free agency, following the return of goalie Chad Johnson

Here's a closer look at the signing.


The statistics

Pouliot, 30, scored 14 points (8+6) in 67 games for the Oilers last season. Before that, he had put up 30-plus points in his first two seasons in Edmonton despite having never appeared in more than 58 games. 

In fact, Pouliot posted an average of 1.81 points per 60 minutes during his three seasons in Edmonton. Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Kyle Okposo, Sam Reinhart are the only Sabres with higher marks in that span.

Looking back further, Pouliot had scored 30-plus points in each season dating back to 2010-11 prior to last year with the exception of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, when he scored 20 points in 34 games.

"It was a frustrating year last year," he said. "Ever since I've been in the League, I don't think I've had a tough year like that … I'm hoping to get a good look in Buffalo and a fresh start."

Pouliot will look to prove that last season was an aberration and return to his previous standards of offensive production. 


Where he'll fit

Pouliot joins a left-wing depth chart that previously had Evander Kane, Matt Moulson and Nicolas Deslauriers as the only three returning NHL regulars for next season. Justin Bailey, who played a career-high 32 games at age 21 for the Sabres last season, has also seen time on the left side.

Buffalo can also slide Zemgus Girgensons to the left wing and use Johan Larsson and Evan Rodrigues as the third and fourth-line centers, although it remains to be seen whether Girgensons will be viewed primarily as a center or a wing player under new coach Phil Housley. 

Pouliot said he sees himself as a fit on any of Buffalo's top three lines, particularly with Housley's fast-paced system. He also saw time on special teams last season, averaging 1:21 of shorthanded ice time per game and 51 seconds on the power-play. 

"For me, it's mostly about speed and forecheck and putting pressure eon the D, turning pucks over," he said. "Last year I had my fair share of penalty killing, which I've never had before which was really good for me personally and as a team. 

"Last year was a tough year overall and everything, but I can put the puck in the net, I can play in different situations with different players, so it's good."

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