SUN Hockey Pool

Marc of a fighter

ROBIN BROWNLEE, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

The first cut might be the deepest, but the last one stings just as much.

Marc-Antoine Pouliot found that out on Oct. 3 when the Edmonton Oilers sent him to Wilkes-Barre of the AHL as their final roster cut before the regular season. But the 21-year-old forward made sure the wound didn't take long to heal.

With Ales Hemsky on the shelf with an injured right shoulder, Pouliot was back in Oilers' silks for Thursday's 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche after being recalled from the minors, where he obviously made the most of his demotion.

"My goal is to stick for the rest of the year," said Pouliot, who picked up his first NHL assist against the Avs on a night the Oilers were lousy from top to bottom.

"I have no control of that, but it's a good situation. I see myself day-by-day. I don't know if I'm here two weeks or the rest of the year, but I'll play my best every game and see what happens."

WILKES-BARRE STAR

Caught behind J.F. Jacques, Alexei Mikhnov and Patrick Thoresen on coach Craig MacTavish's depth chart when the season began, Pouliot took his disappointment and turned it into eight goals and 18 points in 18 games with Wilkes-Barre, earning a recall when Hemsky went down.

"He was their best player and had been for a number of games in a row," said MacTavish, who'll play Pouliot on right wing with Petr Sykora and Jarret Stoll against Columbus tonight.

"He's ready for a look to see if he can stick and be productive up here. I thought he was really close at training camp and I told him that. I thought the last game he was average in Vancouver and that swayed me the other way on him.

"He went down (to Wilkes-Barre) and struggled a little bit emotionally being back there, I think.

"It was a big disappointment, but he picked himself off the canvas and started playing good hockey."

Selected 22nd by the Oilers in the 2003 Entry Draft, Pouliot played in eight games with the Oilers last season and looked like he might be a part of their playoff run until he was felled by mononucleosis during the opening round against Detroit.

PAID HIS DUES

With 65 games in Hamilton in 2005-06 and 18 more with Wilkes-Barre this season, Pouliot has honed his skills, paid his dues and waited his turn.

Now, he'll be getting second-line ice time with Sykora and Stoll.

"I'm playing with two great players," Pouliot said. "We had a few shifts late in the last game and we did well. It's awesome. A great opportunity for me. I'm lucky.

"I've played mostly centre, but I can play the wing, too, especially with two players like that."


Videos

Photos