In hockey, often teams have to trade off size for skill. Sherbrooke Phoenix forward Samuel Poulin, a potential first round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, is a rather unique combination of size, skill and hockey intelligence and could be a bargain for the Calgary Flames at 26th overall.
The son of former NHLer Patrick Poulin – who played 634 games in NHL for Hartford, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Montreal – the younger Poulin is a 6’2″, 205 left shot winger hailing from Laval. He was one of the more promising rookies in the QMJHL in 2017-18 with a 45-point debut in the circuit. He followed that up with an even more impressive sophomore season, boosting his production to over a point per game.
Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino summarized Poulin’s attributes with his May rankings:
Good size, projects to play up and down the lineup. Could use some polish in terms of finishing ability. NHL bloodlines (from father Patrick) always a plus.
Benoit Belanger of McKeen’s Hockey had a more detailed breakdown of the ins and outs of why scouts like Poulin:
Samuel Poulin is a junior player in an adult body. He is physically strong, plays a mature game and has good work ethic. He is a goal-scoring winger with an excellent shot. There are several aspects of Poulin’s game that stand out, namely his shot and ability to get open for clean looks at the net. He can finish in a variety of ways on both his forehand and backhand, and his one-timer from the circles is devastatingly accurate. A shoot-first winger who knows how to find the back of the net. Sniping winger with a lethal shot, he is a high-volume shooter who does a lot of damage off the rush. Can score at will, but his playmaking is highly underrated.
All-in-all, Poulin is a grown-ass man who plays a mature Game. His skating is thought to be his weak spot, but it’s not awful. He’s a smart, versatile, responsible two-way player. He’s not particularly dazzling or showy, but he’s a damn fine hockey player who projects to be much of the same at the pro level.
Poulin had 29 goals and 76 points in the 2018-19 season (and another 14 points in 10 playoff games). He led Sherbrooke in points (and goals) in both the regular season and playoffs. Relative to his age group, he stacks up really well within the entire QMJHL.
He was fourth among his age group in points (behind Jakob Pelletier, Nathan Legare and Alex Beaucage), third in primary points (behind Pelletier and Legare), and fifth in goals (behind Legare, Pelletier, Beaucage and Raphael Lavoie). At even strength, he was third in points, tied for first in primary points and fifth in goals. He might not be an elite finisher, but he was a very reliable offensive contributor on a pretty shallow offensive team.
Availability and fit
Poulin is a promising first round pick, so it probably shouldn’t be surprising that he might not necessarily be available when the Flames select at 26th overall: ISS has him 24th, Dobber Prospects has him 32nd, the Draft Analyst/Sporting News has him 40th, my rankings at The Hockey Writers have him 19th, Sportsnet has him 29th, The Athletic has him 33rd and 31st, and The Hockey News has him 25th.
He’s not quite the same, obviously, but Poulin reminds me a bit of Sean Monahan in his draft year. Physically mature, offensively reliable, and defensively responsible. Poulin has more rough spots in his game than Monahan did in 2013, but there aren’t a lot of big things wrong with how Poulin plays the game so it’s easy to see why the Flames would covet him. His offensive talents might not be as dazzling as someone like Pelletier, but his size and defensive awareness suggest that it might be easier for Poulin to translate what he does well to the pros.
2019 first round targets
Egor Afanasyev | John Beecher | Tobias Björnfot | Bobby Brink | Simon Holmström | Pavel Dorofeyev | Anttoni Honka | Ryan Johnson | Spencer Knight | Brett Leason | Connor McMichael | Ilya Nikolayev | Jakob Pelletier