Fantasy Take: Buffalo adds forward depth with Benoit Pouliot pact

by Neil Parker on July 1, 2017
Benoit Pouliot - USA TODAY Sports Images

 

The Sabres signed Benoit Pouliot to a one-year, $1.15 million contract Saturday.

 

What the Sabres Receive

Buffalo adds another middle-six winger that is a streaky scorer and can drive possession. Everything went south for Pouliot in 2016-17, as his ice time, offensive numbers and Corsi For percentage all dropped to three-year lows during his Edmonton tenure. Unfortunately, Pouliot is prone to slump through unfocused, undisciplined and uninspired spells. Now past his prime, the 30-year-old winger's leash is likely shorter than ever, too. There's no question that Pouliot owns all the physical attributes to rebound with a serviceable two-way showing in 2017-18, though.

 

Fantasy Breakdown

The term and money make this a low-risk deal for Buffalo, and Pouliot helps beef up an already strong top-nine forward group. However, this salary doesn't guarantee a significant role, and if things don't jive, Pouliot could be in the press box or on waivers in short order. Entering his 11th season, the Sabres are already his seventh team, after all.

The upside is clear, though, and the Sabres can now mix and match three scoring lines. Pouliot scored 33 goals, 70 points and posted a respectable 50.7 Corsi For percentage and 1.99 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five through just 113 games over his first two seasons with Edmonton, so he's just a season removed from being an excellent secondary contributor.

With all the moving pieces, it's still way too early to lock in line combinations, but flanking either Ryan O'Reilly or Jack Eichel would obviously be a huge boon for Pouliot. However, it seems more likely that he fits into a third-line role, but Zemgus Girgensons is no slouch. Buffalo also has Johan Larsson and Matt Moulson in the top-nine mix, so someone is going to lose out. Neither project to be serviceable fantasy options next year, though.

It wouldn't be surprising if there were more moves ahead for the Sabres, either.

Summing it all up, there are only fantasy ripples here. Pouliot likely slides into a third-ling gig and lines up against soft opponents at five-on-five, as O'Reilly faces the opposition's top players, and other teams focus on slowing down Eichel. Pouliot will have a number of nice stretches, but unless he carves out a scoring-line role, he's unlikely to be a reliable or year-long fantasy asset.