Pouliot remains positive

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:01 PM ET

Marc Pouliot is taking it for what it is, a fresh start.

The Edmonton Oilers forward is set to become an unrestricted free agent on Thursday after failing to get a qualifying offer from the club. Hell be playing with another team next season.

I dont know if Im really surprised, Pouliot said. But I think its good news for me. This will definitely give me a chance to get a fresh start somewhere else.

On Monday, the Oilers announced they issued qualifying offers to Gilbert Brule, Andrew Cogliano, Jeff Deslauriers, Devan Dubnyk, Colin Fraser, Sam Gagner, J-F Jacques, Ryan OMarra, Theo Peckham and Liam Reddox.

It allowed the club to retain the rights of those restricted free agents.

Pouliot and Ryan Potulny were cut loose.

A former first-round pick, Pouliot could never regain the form that saw him score 114 points in his final year of junior hockey with the Rimouski Oceanic.

He was drafted 22nd overall by the Oilers in 2003 on the strength of being the best player on a bad Oceanic team prior to the arrival of Sidney Crosby.

Pouliot, 25, had 73 points in 65 games in his draft year, then was a member of the Oceanic squad that made it to the Memorial Cup two years later, playing on a line with Crosby.

Pouliot spent parts of three seasons in the Oilers farm system before joining the Oilers on a full-time basis in 2008.

He registered 20 points in 63 games in his first full season with the Oilers and was hoping to have a better campaign last year before it was derailed by a sports hernia injury.

It was tough for me last season because I worked hard all summer and I was prepared to have a breakout year, Pouliot said. But then I had to have surgery and it was tough to come back from that. It was tough to get into the tempo having missed most of the year.

By the time Pouliot returned to the lineup, the Oilers season was already a write off. Regardless, he was still able to show flashes of ability, finishing with seven goals and seven assists in 35 games.

I think I showed towards the end of last year that when Im in good shape that I can be a good player, Pouliot said. Its too bad things didnt work out in Edmonton.

Having made $825,000 last season, Pouliot was due for at least a 10% raise had the Oilers qualified him. Now hes eligible to go to the highest bidder.

As a player with offensive abilities that is coming into his prime its expected the Quebec City native will entertain some offers.

I dont know yet whats going to happen, but I think this is going to be good for me, Pouliot said. I feel like I can play in this league and that I can be an impact player.

Im happy about this, Im looking forward to getting a chance to play someplace else.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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