The Edmonton Oilers continue to clear cap space, placing Benoit Pouliot on unconditional waivers today for purposes of a buyout. The forward has two years remaining on his contract at $4MM per season, meaning a buyout cap-hit will be structured as follows.
- 2017-18: $1.33MM
- 2018-19: $1.33MM
- 2019-20: $1.33MM
- 2020-21: $1.33MM
Pouliot’s career in Edmonton will end on a sour note, scoring just 14 points in 2016-17. He fell completely out of favor with the coaching staff, and at 30 seemed to see his game take a considerable step backwards. The fourth-overall pick from 2005, Pouliot has never been able to keep up with his draft contemporaries. Following Sidney Crosby, Bobby Ryan and Jack Johnson, and selected one spot ahead of Carey Price, Pouliot has bounced around the league and registered a career-high of 36 points (last year and in 2013-14).
Interestingly, Pouliot has long put up solid possession metrics and even recorded a better than average career shooting percentage. Despite that, and the prime ice time he received in Edmonton prior to this year, he never could be relied upon as a top offensive producer.
His career is far from over, as he’ll surely garner attention from several teams around the league now that his price tag has come considerably down. Likely having to settle for a short-term deal on a relatively low salary, teams will be interested in his upside as a third-line winger who could move up if he can find the right fit. It will be interesting to see if he can find a team with it’s eyes on the postseason, or if he’ll rebuild along with a young team.
For the Oilers, saving $2.6MM for the next two years is important as they try to get both Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid under contract long term. Recently it was hinted that McDavid might cost as much as $13.25MM per season, and with Draisaitl looking like he might cost as much as $8MM each year, they need all the room they can get. It’s why they moved out Jordan Eberle—though, immediately committed most of that room to Kris Russell—and why they’ll have to look at other cost saving measures in the future. Pouliot was simply not needed on this team, especially as younger players like Drake Caggiula step into bigger roles.