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One Less Worry For Pouliot

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

 Benoit Pouliot, the Wild’s first round pick in 2005, has been signed to a multi-year contract.

Benoit Pouliot’s mind hasn’t had time to shut down in a long time since getting drafted fourth overall, appearing at an NHL training camp and winning a gold medal at the World Junior Championships.

After a long, whirlwind year, Pouliot wanted some peace of mind, so he went to the Minnesota Wild brass and expressed interest in settling his future now. The two sides agreed on a multi-year contract on Monday, ending any uncertainty about the highly-touted prospect’s contract status for next year.

Click here to read the press release.

Pouliot, who led the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves in goals with 35 in 51 games, had signed an amateur tryout contract with the Houston Aeros on Friday. Signing the entry level contract with the Wild is one less thing on the mind of Pouliot, who can now focus on cracking Houston’s lineup in the Calder Cup playoffs.

“I was trying to get this done at least before I got to camp (in September),” he said after practicing for the second time with the Aeros on Monday. “It’s good for me that I did it now, so there’s less pressure.”

Tom Lynn, the general manager of the Aeros and the assistant general manager of the Wild, agreed that getting a deal done would be beneficial for both sides. He noted that getting Pouliot some professional practice and game experience this year would only help his chances of donning a Wild sweater next season.

“He indicated the desire to sign because he wanted some certainty. With where he was taken in the draft, there’s not a lot of room for negotiation, so both sides figured we’d get it done and not worry about it,” explained Lynn. “It does give the Aeros good depth there. We don’t know yet where he’s going to fit in. It’s wide open right now.”

The Aeros are gearing up for a West Division final matchup with the Milwaukee Admirals in a seven-game series beginning on Thursday. The club is fresh off a four-game sweep of Peoria and a 50-win regular season.

That means an adjustment for Pouliot, who wants playing time, but doesn’t want to disrupt the balance of a team that is rolling in the postseason.

“It’s obviously tough,” he acknowledged. “When you get here, you don’t know what to expect, or what to do. I’ve been on the ice twice so far with them, and I’ll just do my best in practice. Hopefully, they see something good and I’ll get a spot in the lineup.”

Pouliot put up 65 points in 51 games with Sudbury, and struggled in the World Juniors, going six games with five assists but zero tallies. Nevertheless, he deemed his season a success because of his development as a more well rounded player.

“My points maybe weren’t what they were supposed to be, but overall, I got better defensively,” he said. “My plus/minus was better and I played on the penalty kill.”

Lynn didn’t get to see him play, but he felt Pouliot’s status as the main offensive threat in Sudbury actually helped him become a better two-way player.

“I didn’t see him play this year, but I think he played on a team that didn’t have a lot of offensive help, which probably enabled him to improve his game as an all-around player. There are very few pure offensive players in the NHL.”

Benoit Pouliot’s Career Statistics

    Reg. Season             Playoffs        
Season   Club  League GP   G  A  PTS  PIM GP   G  A  PTS  PIM
 2003-04  Sudbury OHL   4  2  2  4  0  4  1  0
 2004-05  Sudbury  OHL  67 29  38   67  102  12  6  8 14   20
 2005-06  Sudbury  OHL  51  35  30  65  121  8  8  3  11  16
 2005-06  Team Canada  WJC  6  5  5  14  --  --  --  --  --
  OHL Totals     122  66 70   136  223  24 16   12 25   36

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