Pouliot stuck in limbo

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

CHICAGO -- If they needed to, the Edmonton Oilers could keep forward Marc Pouliot for the rest of the season.

Despite currently being up on an emergency recall, there is a loophole that allows the Oilers to keep the six-foot-one, 195-pound centre in Edmonton.

However, it's really up to Pouliot whether or not the Oilers decide to extend his stay. This afternoon he'll get another opportunity to impress the coaches when he lines up against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.

"I don't want to put that kind of pressure on myself, I just want to play my game," Pouliot said yesterday.

"I don't have any control in these kinds of things, I'm not even sure how it works. I just want to take it game by game. I don't know how long I'm going to stay, I just want to prepare myself for every game."

Pouliot was in the lineup Friday in the Oilers 2-1 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. He played 11 minutes, got some power-play time and led the team with three shots on goal.

He centred the Oilers fourth line between Curtis Glencross and Zack Stortini.

"I thought he was good, made some plays," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

Pouliot was expected to play with the Oilers all season.

SENT BACK

However, he was passed on the depth chart by players such as Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Brodziak and sent back to Springfield early in the season.

With the Falcons, he took on a leadership role and had 20 goals and 22 assists in 50 games. Prior to being sent down, Pouliot hadn't registered a point in nine games with the Oilers.

"It's been a while since I've been here and I wanted this chance to come back," he said.

"Now that I'm here, I just want to play my best, try to get at least another game and prove myself.

"I just wanted to go out there and play my role, not try to do too much, just play well defensively make sure that I've earned my ice time."

There have always been big expectations for Pouliot. The Oilers selected the native of Quebec City with their first pick - 22nd overall - in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

PLAYED WITH CROSBY

He was a scorer in junior, netting 45 goals his final year in Rimouski, playing alongside Sidney Crosby.

Yet he's never been able to find that form at the professional level and may be starting to run out of chances with the Oilers.

"That has to be the focus at that stage in his career," MacTavish said.

"When you come in and you're a first-round draft choice and if you think that's an entitlement to be in the locker-room and get all kinds of opportunity, that's when you're going to have problems."

Pouliot isn't expected to light things up for the Oilers. But he is expected to contribute in some form.

"He's been OK defensively and OK offensively," MacTavish said.

"But you have to excel at something and find a niche and we all know what the qualifications are to be on your team.

"He's just been unable to grab a specific role for himself and I think that's what players need to do to expand their role.

"They need to grab a lesser role and fill it, then expand it."


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