A trade like the Pouliot-Latendresse deal is always very hard to dissect. Two very similar players were swapped, hence making analysis quite difficult. Both are 6’3, were coveted for their scoring potential and have, thus far, been disappointments for the teams that drafted them. Moreover, both have been criticized for their perceived laziness. Heck, they even have identical salaries and their contracts expire at the end of this season. With so many commonalities, it is near impossible to deem which team got the best of this trade. In fact, it will take years before one can make that determination. Regardless, one thing is clear, Montreal made a high risk, high reward move.
Montreal banked almost solely on potential in making this deal. While a bit smaller, weighing about 200 pounds, there is no doubt Benoit Pouliot is more talented and faster than Guillaume Latendresse. But the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft has yet to profit from his immense skills at the NHL level. Pouliot has never played a full season with the Wild and in 65 career games has only managed an unimpressive 9 goals and 9 assists. Yet, should Pouliot live up to his potential , the Habs will have added a blue-chip player to their team.
Conversely, Minnesota made the safer bet here. Latendresse, as disappointing as he might have been at times, has proven that he is an NHL quality player. While not always as physical as desired, he certainly is big, measuring 6’3 and weighing in at 230 pounds. He also has shown a certain nose for the net, averaging 15 goals a year over the past three seasons. Although he may never become a 40 goal player, it is not unreasonable for the Wild to hope that he becomes at least a 20 goal-50 point player.
Hopefully for these two young men, the change of scenery will do them good and they will gain an understanding of the work they need to do to become impact players. Only time will tell who comes out on top from this deal. Until then, I will leave you with a pearl of wisdom courtesy of one of my friends: “I have no problem with this trade. I would rather have a fast and lazy player than a slow and lazy player”. Fair enough.