Vancouver — The Pittsburgh Penguins made a first round selection for the first time since 2014. And they used all of their allotted two minutes. When General Manager Jim Rutherford and crew stepped to the stage as time expired, they selected 18-year-old physical winger Samuel Poulin of the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The Penguins draft a long last had a first rounder.
Poulin was called a safe pick by longtime scout and QMJHL team consultant Simon Boisvert, who also said he would be surprised if Poulin doesn’t play in the NHL. Poulin doesn’t have the upside of some of the picks, but he doesn’t have the downside, either. He’s a physical two-way winger, with good enough ability to be able to score from the slot.
The 6-foot-1 (and a half by his admission), 208-pound physical winger fashions himself as a power forward. Poulin’s father Patrick was drafted in the first round by the Hartford Whalers in 1983 as a power forward, too.
Poulin was the captain of the Sherbrooke Phoenix. He scored 29 goals and 76 points in 67 games. Sherbrooke qualified for the QMJHL playoffs but lost in five games in the second round. He was the only Sherbrooke player taken in the first round and one of only two players from the QMJHL selected. There were eight USA Developmental team players taken in the first round, including three in the first 10 picks.
Poulin had a big jump in production this season which was his second with Sherbrooke. He scored just 45 points (16g, 29a) in 55 games last season but popped for the 76 points this season.
“He’s a power forward. He’ll go inside. He’ll go to the net,” said Penguins GM Jim Rutherford. “He was the captain (in Sherbrooke). He can play two positions, center and wing, so we’re real happy with him.”
The Penguins draft could have gone several directions. There were a few players worthy of the selection and there were not so quiet whispers the Penguins had used the pick as trade bait earlier in the week. However, they stood pat Friday night and took Poulin.
Poulin was not surprised by the pick though he was no less happy to be an NHL first-round pick.
“I went to get some dinner with them, so I had a really good feeling with them,” Poulin said before projecting himself a couple of years away from the NHL.
“I think two years, I want to play next year–Everybody’s dream is to play as fast as possible,” Poulin said. “The logical answer would be 2-3 years.”
He also acknowledged his skating and accelerative bursts will need to improve to make the show, as well.
“I’m working on my skating a lot. I’m doing that this summer,” Poulin said. “At the next level, everybody’s quick, everybody’s fast.”