Making Sense of the Guillaume Latendresse-Benoit Pouliot Trade

Felix SicardCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2010

MONTREAL- DECEMBER 17:  Guillaume Latendresse #48 of the Minnesota Wild skates during the warm up period prior to facing the Montreal Canadiens in their during NHL game on December 17, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Wild defeated the Canadiens 3-1.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Sometimes, it can be amazing just how much things don't work out the way they were supposed to.

Just ask Guillaume Latendresse and Benoit Pouliot.

Latendresse was selected 45th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and was heralded by the Montreal media as the next great French-Canadian to don La Saint Flanelle

As for Pouliot, being selected fourth overall in in the same draft as Sidney Crosby (2005), created expectations on its own. After having posted solid numbers in the Ontario Hockey Leaugue, and with size, range, and skill, how could those expectations not be in place?

For both players, it was a case of mistaken identity.

Latendresse was indeed a gifted offensive player, but his skating simply wasn't there in his early years as a pro. As for Pouliot, perhaps it was Jacques Lemaire's system or his need to bulk up that brought his downfall.

Through all their downfalls, the fact remained that both players had high potential to become regular contributors in the National Hockey League.

As Latendresse's career went on in Montreal, it was becoming evident that the Quebec native would never reach that potential with the Canadiens.

It is a tricky task to explain this phenomenon, but the bottom line is that Latendresse was not the kind of player that could thrive in the Montreal spotlight. Maybe he needed a bit of space.

That must be the case, as he is now on pace to post career numbers in the relative anonymity of the "State of Hockey". Not to disrespect the "State of Hockey", but the passion for the game of hockey that exists in Montreal alone far outweighs whatever the "State of Hockey" can provide.

Benoit Pouliot's case is almost identical to Latendresse's. Pouliot has stated a few times to the Montreal media that he prefers the Montreal culture to the Minnesota culture. This is a bit odd, as one would think that the culture in Minnesota resembles more that of southern Ontario than Montreal does.

That, and the fact that Pouliot is playing alongside veterans Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta.

Playing with veterans who have been there, done that, can only be a good thing for Pouliot, who is still developing. Add the fact that both Gomez and Gionta have the offensive capabilities to make the players around them better, and you have a Pouliot revival.

While Pouliot isn't making Bob Gainey look like a genius, the trade that brought him to Montreal has turned out to be a very solid deal.

Both teams have gotten rid of something, while gaining at the same time.

The Habs have gotten rid of a player who would have never succeeded in Montreal, while acquiring a big body up front who can add scoring punch. Pouliot is exactly the type of players that the Canadiens were missing.

As for the Wild, they get rid of the underachieving Pouliot, and get a good player in Latendresse, who also needed a breath of fresh air.

There has already been people calling the Wild winners in this trade, but that is not true. As I have laid out, both teams have gained in this swap.

That's a nice change of pace for a Montreal squad that has been mired in mediocre transactions for the past few years.