Benoit Pouliot and Guillaume Latendresse have been traded for one another respectively. Should we care? Combined the young forwards scored a paltry seven points rendering them fantasy-useless, but was it always that way? Both teams felt their players needed a change of scenery this much is clear. But do both teams see something in the players they got back. Now that is the question.
Looking at Pouliot, the 23-year-old is a skilled left wing who never really has dominated offensively at any level. Standing at 6’3″ the Ontario native broke into pro hockey with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves playing with NHL regulars Marc Staal and Nick Foligno. He averaged a little over a PPG showing that he could potentially be an NHL power forward. With these hopes the Wild took Pouliot with the 4th overall pick of the 2005 draft.
By comparison, the Canadiens took Latendresse with the 45th overall pick in 2005. Surprised that he was still on the board, the Habs moved up in order to snag what the entire Province of Quebec thought would be their chosen son. Coming out of the offense oriented QMJHL, the 22-year-old averaged 1.24 points-per-game making his draft spot a relative surprise. He would quickly be brought up to the big club, and there he would stick.
Call it a hunch, but Latendresse will be more comfortable away from the watchful eye of Montreal. The right winger may have been rushed but certainly flirted with 20 goals earlier in his career playing with a Finn named Koivu. His time definitely seemed to be up as his slump simply was not turning itself around. Through 23 games, he has a whopping three points putting him in the doghouse of coach Jacques Martin. Things cannot go any worse for the young Quebec native, I still feel he will be an NHL regular.
Having said that, Pouliot is not an NHL caliber forward. Although his development is a mirror image of his trade partner, he never showed that offensive promise at the NHL level. At nearly a year older, he found himself in the AHL one year after being drafted. He rode the shuttle between the AHL and NHL level struggling to stick at the level until this year where he produced a dominating four points in 14 games.
To conclude, the trade is a my problem for your problem type of deal. If Latendresse sees big minutes he should react well to a highly offensive system similar to his junior team. Keep an eye on him and keep your teams far far away from Pouliot a legitimate first round bust.