PITTSBURGH It looks like the often erratic, sometimes brilliant Benoit Pouliot era might be over in Boston after just one up-and-down season.
One year after the Montreal Canadiens didnt extend a qualifying offer to Pouliot making him an unrestricted free agent signed by the Bruins, it appears the Bs will do the same thing. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed to CSNNE.com that Boston has extended qualifying offers to restricted free agents Tuukka Rask, Matt Bartkowski and Lane MacDermid thereby allowing them to match any offer sheets the RFAs might received after July 1.
The Bruins havent extended a qualifying offer to Pouliot, and Chiarelli wasnt ready on Friday afternoon to rule out that it might happen by the June 25 deadline. But it appears the Bruins are ready to relinquish their RFA protection rights for a player that never truly found his stride in Black and Gold.
Pouliot did post his second-best career total with 16 goals and reached a personal high with 32 points while riding shotgun on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley for much of the season. He had arguably the two prettiest goals by the Bruins last season including a between-the-legs toe drag against the Florida Panthers in December, but Pouliot also struggled through long bouts of invisibility on the ice.
The 25-year-old all but disappeared in February with one point and a minus-7 in 13 games, and appeared to catch the Bruins by surprise on at least one occasion when he wasnt feeling healthy enough physically to play.
The limited production was probably to be expected for a buy low project that the Bruins only spent 1.1 million on for the 2011-12 season, but Pouliots inconsistency has spurred the Bruins to look for a veteran Mark Recchi type on the third line as a potential replacement.
The Bruins could bring Pouliot back after July 1 even if they dont send him a qualifying offer, but that doesnt seem likely at all.