Guillaume Latendresse Traded to Wild; Canadiens Receive Benoit Pouliot

Scott WeldonCorrespondent INovember 24, 2009

ATLANTA  -  MARCH 8:   Garnet Exelby #2 of the Atlanta Thrashers defends against Guillame Latendresse #84 and  Christopher Higgins #21 of the Montreal Canadiens on March 8, 2007 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Yes, "the softy" has been moved to Minnesota for "the chicken." That's as far as my high school French, no doubt erroneously, will take me.

Underachievers Benoit Pouliot and Guillaume Latendresse have been exchanged for each other. Bob Gainey suggested, "Often times a different environment, new teammates, and a new situation can be beneficial to a player."

Latendresse was chosen in the second round, 45th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2005. He was a scorer in junior, but the big, slow-skating forward has been unable to make that translate into NHL success. His best season was his first, when as a 19-year-old he played 80 games and managed 16 goals and 13 assists. Each year since then, his games played, points, and ice time have decreased.

Latendresse is a big kid (6'2", 230 lbs.) and was seen as a much-needed power forward on a tiny, quick Montreal team. Unfortunately, he's Dustin Penner slow without the soft hands. He's been called to play a more physical role, but again, his speed makes it hard for him to check effectively.

Pouliot was highly touted when he was taken fourth overall by the Minnesota Wild in the same 2005 NHL entry draft. He was ranked as high as third (TSN) going into that draft and was taken fourth overall by the Wild. This was a great NHL draft, and the success of later picks Devin Setoguchi, Anze Kopitar, Marc Staal, T.J. Oshie, James Neal, Paul Stasny, Marc-Eduoard Vlasic, and Kris Letang has reflected poorly on him.

After a strong OHL career, Pouliot has been a two-thirds of a point a game player in the AHL and a third of a point guy in the NHL.  

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Pouliot was seen as an explosive skater with a hard accurate shot. His defensive shortcomings (laziness, some say) and inability to score at the professional level have led to him being moved by the Wild.

Both players have been seen as having attitude problems. Latendresse is a year younger and a bigger player. Pouliot is faster with more theoretical potential. Latendresse has certainly had the better career so far. Both of them were being eased out or towards the back of their respective lineups. 

Here's a trade that has the best chance of benefiting the players traded. They're both on the way out, but maybe with their new teams they'll get a chance to shine.

Perhaps with the Wild defensive clamps off, Pouliot will become an NHL scorer.

Perhaps with the shock of being traded away by Les Habitants, Latendresse will become a more consistent banger.

The teams can only hope they'll benefit from this swap of fourth liners.

Pouliot seems to have the most potential, and Latendresse the best career, such as it is, to date. Which do you prefer, the bird in the hand or the one in the bush?

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