I'm not saying Pouliot is a world-beater, but he has 5G and 5A in 14 games for the Lightning averaging 12:38 minutes per game. Even with the Bruins he was a quality top-9 forward with speed, grit and goal scoring ability.
Yet the Bruins let him walk. Why? Management's line was that they wanted to make room for Jordan Caron. Sorry, but there was and is NO reason to believe that Caron will ever be a better player that Pouliot. The fact that Caron hadn't even shown a lot of NHL promise to that point made the decision even worse.
Look at our roster now, and you'll see a clear need for another top 9 forward...i.e., Pouliot. And we'll be giving up assets at the deadline to fill that void.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? I don't regret it one bit. I don't think anybody gave a flying bleep when he left. There is no point in debating what might have been when it was the right move at the time.
I was as big of a Pouliot fan & supporter as anyone, and was disappointed to see him go - but I don't think he's really a $1.8m/season player.
He's putting up great numbers now because of his linemates and with how snakebit Kelly & (to a much-less-extent) Peverley have been, Pouliot would be producing at his normal career pace & people would be screaming for an upgrade at that spot if he was still a Bruin.
And I don't think they let Pouliot go just to make room for Caron (as OP suggested) - they let Pouliot go because TB offered him a deal that was worth more than Boston wanted to pay him. So unless they could convince him to stay in town for less money, he wasn't going to be brought back.
I didn't mind him. He played hard and had skill, if he had hockey sense he would be really good. He made some boneheaded plays and caught heat for it in the playoffs but he played harder against Washington than alot of guys on the team and certainly earned him $1.1 million when he was here.
It's one of those hindsight is 20-20 things. Caron did show some promise down the stretch last year and the Bruins thought he would keep progressing instead of taking a big step back this year. Also, I believe Pouliot got about 2 mil for this year and at the time the Bruins were much tighter with the cap with the uncertainty of the Thomas situation.