Marc Pouliot never managed to hit his stride with the Edmonton Oilers.
The former first-round pick seemed set to have a breakout season last year, but a sports hernia operation derailed his plans, which eventually cost him his job.
On Friday, Pouliot was back in Edmonton, trying to win a new job with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s ironic to be back here, but it’s special,” Pouliot said before the contest. “I was looking forward to this. I owe this place a lot and it’s nice to be back.”
The Oilers cut ties with Pouliot this summer after five years with the organization.
A scoring sensation in junior as a linemate of Sidney Crosby in Rimouski, the Quebec City native could never find that scoring touch in Edmonton.
He was limited to 35 games last season due to his injury and finished with seven goals and seven assists. This summer he signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Lightning.
“Training camp is going well,” Pouliot said. “Early on the execution and tempo is not the best for everyone, but I’m starting to feel better and getting more confidence.
“I just want to make a good impression right away and show what I can do.
Even though I had to have surgery last year, I thought I did pretty well towards the end and I just want to keep building on that.”
With the Lightning, Pouliot is trying to earn a spot on a team in transition.
New general manager Steve Yzerman is looking to re-establish credibility for a club that has fallen on hard times since winning the Stanley Cup in 2004.
“Every team has a lot of competition, there always seems to be 10 players battling for a couple of spots,” Pouliot said. “Whatever team I would have ended up with, it would still have been a battle to try and make it.”