With the draft approaching and the free agent frenzy set to begin soon, there are still a few question marks left in Montreal's camp with regards to the RFAs and the UFAs. Benoit Pouliot is one of those question marks. The 24 year old winger is currently an RFA and from all indications, there has been no offers made to him and no negotiations have taken place. It seems likely that Benny is not part of Montreal's plans for the 2011-2012 season.
The 6'3 winger earned $1.35 Million in the 2010-2011 season and was severely juggled in the lineup going from the first line to the fourth line. He still managed to play 79 games during the regular season but found the back of the net only 13 times along with 17 assists for a total of 30 points. A disappointment, considering the fact that Pouliot was drafted in the first round, 4th overall, by the Minnesota Wild in 2005 NHL Entry Draft. During the playoffs, Pouliot was a healthy scratch four times out of seven and did not show up on the scoresheet. In fact, he didn't even manage to record a single shot on the opposing net.
There are signs and murmurs that Ryan White will be signed soon by the Canadiens and that would leave the Habs with only two more Free agent forwards, Tom Pyatt and Jeff Halpern. We already reported that Halpern will be let go and will not return with the team, while Tom Pyatt, who is also a RFA, seems likely to be part of Montreal's plans. That leaves Pouliot out in the open. It is logical to assume that Montreal will be looking to deal his rights during the draft. The buzz around the town is that Montreal should be a buyer at the free agent frenzy and names like Jussi Jokinnen, Eric Cole, Brooks Laich and Ville Leino have repeatedly surfaced in rumors and among the city's media. All logic indicates that Pouliot is done in Montreal.
There are also rumors that Yannick Weber, the Swiss defenseman, has also been asked by the team's organization if he will be willing to play on the fourth line if needed by the coach with a more prominent role in the powerplay. If that is the case, and with Yemelin making his way over to North America along with our report yesterday about an offer made to Hamrlik, it would mean that Habs are looking to shop Spacek around in the market as well. Without Spacek, Habs will end up with the following defensemen: Andrei Markov (a deal is imminent with him), Alexei Yemelin, PK Subban, Hal Gill, Josh Gorges (expect him to sign very soon as reported yesterday), Roman Hamrlik and Yannick Weber. Alexandre Picard (RFA), Paul Mara (UFA), Brent Sopel (UFA) and James Wisniewski (UFA) are all expected to find new teams to play with next season. Wisniewski's name is part of many rumors in Detroit.
All in all, expect a deal or two to be made, especially regarding Benoit Pouliot, to make room for an impactful winger in the lineup.