Game by game, Oiler draft pick Marc-Antoine
Pouliot is realizing his hockey dreams.
This young man has seen his team go from worst in the country last
season to one of the best right now. He
is now helping lead his Rimouski Oceanic to the Memorial Cup. The Edmonton Oilers had a quick eye when it
was their turn to select a first round pick, and they selected an easy-going
and coachable player in Pouliot. At
6”2, 188 lbs, Pouliot is looking at the World Junior Championship to gain more
international experience and prove to those who judge him that in fact, he will
be a good center in the NHL. Hockey’s
Future caught up with Pouliot just before the RE/MAX games.
HF: Marc-Antoine, how went your summer as an Oiler?
MAP: It was a great summer. I dreamed about it since I was a kid and now
I realize that I reached my goal. The
next step will be to make the team as a regular player.
HF: Edmonton has a decent history of drafting players coming from the Q
(Lowe, Laraque, Hemsky, Bergeron). With
the maturity you possess, some might say you are not a long way from your first
MAP: Yeah that’s right. Edmonton
will give me the chance to prove myself but now I have to improve a couple of
things that I will work on this summer.
I will be ready to go to training camp not as an experiment but to make
HF: What did you learn from the Team Canada Training Camp, the good and
MAP: It wasn’t that good for me.
I got injured and I didn’t perform like I know I can. I was a little bit mad about it because I
know it was important to make a good impression.
HF: No player is a lock with the team, but how much
excited would you be about playing in Finland in December? Ever been there?
MAP: That was one of my goals before this season. It will be an honor to represent the country
that we live in. I want to make a great
impression at camp in December so they don’t have the choice but to keep
me. I have never been to Finland but
have been to Russia and Slovakia.
HF: You are now the Oceanic’s captain, the leader of a young crop of
players. What did it change in your
MAP: When I came to Rimouski, veterans like Benoît Martin, Jean-Philippe
Brière, Aaron Johnson (Columbus Blue
Jackets third round pick 2001) and Nicolas Poirier helped me a lot feel like a real player and how to be
confident. They showed me their
leadership and now it’s my turn to do that with the new rookies and also the
veterans who need it. I think I can
HF: Knowing that your team finished at the bottom a year ago and that
you are now at the top of your division, what has been the biggest difference
since the start of the season?
MAP: We made some great acquisitions in the offseason. Players like
Sydney Crosby, Guillaume Lavallée and Michal Sersen definitely help us, but I
think we learned a lot last year and we prepared ourselves last summer to get a
good experience this season. I’m not
surprised about our performance.
HF: Who are you linemates and what can you tell me about them that fans
might not know?
MAP : Usually, it’s Dany
Roussin (Florida Panthers seventh round pick 2003) and Danick Jasmin-Riel
who have excellent skills and we have success when we are all healthy.
HF: Which Rimouski player has elevated his game the most?
MAP : It would probably be Brad Richards with the fact that he
brought this team to the Memorial Cup, but with the beginning of the young
sensation Sydney Crosby, it might change soon.
HF: Would you consider your
coach Donald Dufresne to be offensive or defensive minded?
MAP: Definitely an offensive coach but he didn’t forget the defensive
part. He lets the players use their
imagination in the offensive zone if we play a good defensive game.
HF: Who is the most intense player you have played against in your
MAP : Maxime Fortunus, he is the best defensive player I ever played
HF: Who is the most difficult goaltender you have scored against?
MAP: Probably Marc-André Fleury
(Pittsburgh Penguins, first pick overall 2003); I didn’t play a lot against him
but I think I scored once on him since I’m in the Q.
HF: Your brightest moment as a member of the Oceanic?
MAP : This year with the confidence from my teammates to choose me
for captaincy, because both years before weren’t too easy for me.
HF: We know that you would have played against the Russians players in
the RE/MAX All Star Game. Would you
consider it a development of the biggest rivalry in hockey or a single hockey
game between two teams?
MAP : Well, this is going to be a good game but I don’t think it
will be that big because they didn’t select their best players.
HF: Do you like the new format?
MAP : I liked the old format more than this one.
HF: Do you think the score against the OHL was only a bad start for
MAP : Like I said, it may be a bad start, but I don’t think they
brought their best players, to show how they really are.
HF: Finally, I have to ask you, how is it playing with the consensus No.
1 pick in the 2005 draft? How is Crosby on and off the ice?
MAP: He is an outstanding player, this guy shows that you can be the
best player whatever the age you have.
This individual is respected by all his teammates and he is a guy who
can have fun with his friends but when he is on the ice, nobody can stop him