5 things to know about Penguins’ first-round draft pick Samuel Poulin
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The definition of the term “power forward” has changed drastically in NHL circles over the past two decades.
It used to describe a player such as Kevin Stevens or Rick Tocchet, who was just as likely to deliver a knockout punch as a game-winning goal.
These days, it describes a player like Samuel Poulin, whom the Pittsburgh Penguins took with the 21st overall pick of the NHL draft Friday night in Vancouver.
He’s 6-foot-1, 206 pounds and he put up 29 goals and 76 points in 67 games with Sherbrooke of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season with a mixture of skill and physicality.
“Someone that isn’t scared to go in the corners,” Poulin said, when asked how he defines the term. “The game is different from this year to 20 years ago, but I think, overall, it stays the same. It’s the same way to describe my game. I can play a dirty game.”
For players of Poulin’s ilk, dirty is good. Physical is good. The key to success as a pro, though, is whether they can keep up with the speed of the modern game.
According to a scouting report by hockeyprospect.com, Poulin’s skating doesn’t hold him back, but it isn’t a strength, either. Poulin said improving his skating is his No. 1 offseason goal.
“I just want to work on my skating a lot, improving that over the summer,” Poulin said. “At the next level, everybody’s quick and everybody’s fast. The game has gotten so quick in the past few years. Just to work on that would help me a lot.”
Here are five other things to know about Poulin:
• Family ties: His father Patrick scored 101 goals in 634 career NHL games with Hartford, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Montreal from 1991-2002. He was the ninth overall pick in the 1991 NHL draft, selected by Whalers GM Eddie Johnston. His godfather is former Penguins goalie Jocelyn Thibault, who is also Sherbrooke’s GM.
• Ceiling fan: Scouts from hockeyprospect.com love Poulin’s consistency and competitiveness. The only knock on him is his offensive ceiling. In that respect, the pick was a conservative one by the Penguins. He might only top out as a third-line winger, but his chances of being a bust are low.
• Arrival date: Poulin seems to have a realistic take on when he might reach the NHL. “For sure, I want to play next year. It’s everybody’s dream to play as fast as possible in the NHL, but a logical answer would be two or three years just to get … stronger and get faster as well,” he said.
• Position versatility: General manager Jim Rutherford said Poulin is comfortable playing center or wing.
• Letter carrier: Poulin was the QMJHL’s youngest captain last season. “It meant a lot for me, especially at 17 years old,” he said. “It’s a big role on a team. I embraced it as much as possible. My teammates, they already were respecting me. Overall, I stayed the same person. I stayed the same player on the ice as well. I didn’t want to try to change the way I was.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .