Benoit Pouliot is the best "bad" player I've ever seen.
What does that mean? It's simple. Pouliot is dripping in talent. He just never uses it.
Remember, this is a guy who was drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2005. He dominated junior hockey, scoring 134 points in 122 games.
He has great size and dazzling speed, and he possesses a wicked wrister.
But the results? Just five points in 28 games this season.
Alain Vigneault is starting to realize Pouliot may be on his last legs. He told Steve Zipay of Newsday:
You know, when you see him play, you see good skill set, good size, good skater that should have the ability to create some good offensive opportunities and hopefully bury a couple. He's definitely at the crossroad in my estimation as far as his career and his opportunity here. You can only get so many kicks at the can in this league and he's getting a good look. He's getting a good opportunity -- except obviously he's not playing on the power play anymore -- but hopefully he'll be able to produce for us because we need some offensive production.
The more I watch Pouliot, the more I think he's just a beat slow. The speed is there, but it seems like he's thinking too much out there. Instead of charging toward a puck, he thinks for a split second. That hesitation leaves him behind the play.
Pouliot will not succeed in a bottom-six role. He needs to play with skilled players. But you're not going to bump him up to the second line. There are far too many players playing better than him.
There's hope, because Pouliot has had success. In his last full season, Pouliot scored 16 goals for the Boston Bruins. He once scored 15 goals in 39 games with the Montreal Canadiens.
The Rangers will probably hold onto him until at least the Olympics break. But it may be the case that some of the youngsters, like Danny Kristo or J.T. Miller, become more dependable options.