It’s been five years since the Pittsburgh Penguins had a chance to make a first-round pick in the NHL Entry Draft, the last being current Toronto Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen in 2014.
While it’s not likely we’ll see the 2019 21st-overall pick, 18-year-old forward Samuel Poulin, on the Penguins starting roster for a few years, here are five fast facts to know about him both on and off the ice.
Poulin Plans to Play in the NHL at Age 18
According to an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Matt Vensel, Poulin himself feels that he’s probably three years away from playing in the NHL, and the analysts agree. Only a handful of prospects in each draft class make an NHL team within a year of selection. However, just because Poulin knows the odds doesn’t mean he won’t try to beat them.
He told Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Chris Adamski:
“I am gonna try to make the team right away. It’s my dream to play in the NHL, so I’ll try to earn my place on the team,”
(from ‘1st-rounder Samuel Poulin out to beat odds, make Penguins at 18,’ Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – 6/26/19).
Poulin got his first chance to show the Penguins organization what he can do in black and gold at the Prospect Development Camp at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex this June. The highlight of the three-day camp – which includes practices and training sessions – is the annual 3-on-3 tournament where four teams battle it out for the Michel Briere Cup.
Poulin scored the final goal for the victorious Team Jagr, which bested Team Lemieux 7-5 for the trophy. Though it will be hard for him to crack the already-talented Penguins roster, Poulin is making a good name for himself within the organization.
Poulin & Legare are BFFs
Speaking of the 2019 NHL Draft and Penguins Prospect Development Camp (and more recently deals with the Arizona Coyotes franchise), Pittsburgh traded up in the third round to take the 74th-overall pick from the Coyotes to draft forward Nathan Legare, and no one was more excited than Poulin.
Poulin and Legare have been friends since they were seven years old, and have played with and against each other many times over the years. Legare even took to Twitter following the draft to share a throwback of the duo as kids.
The friends were on opposite teams during the 3-on-3 tournament at Development Camp, where Legare put up two goals for Team Lemieux in the final game. For the pair, playing against each other was just like old times. Poulin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“When we played against each other in junior we talked a lot, and as kids, we would talk to each other even during the games, so we did the same out there,”
(from ‘Close friends Poulin, Legare put on show,’ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 6/30/19).
Hockey Is a Poulin Family Affair
Samuel isn’t the only Poulin in the hockey world. His older brother Nicholas is a forward for McGill University and skated for the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) for four seasons. Samuel also played for the Phoenix for two seasons, with both brothers on the squad in 2017-18.
Samuel’s father Patrick Poulin played 14 seasons in the NHL. He was drafted ninth overall by the Hartford Whalers in 1991 and played for the Whalers, Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Montreal Canadiens during his career. He also spent time with the Springfield Indians and Quebec Citadelles of the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Indianapolis Ice of the International Hockey League (IHL).
In addition to playing in the NHL, Patrick coached both Samuel and Legare when they played on the same summer league teams growing up.
Poulin & His Pup Scoped Out Pittsburgh
Poulin is ready to add another dog to the Penguins cheering squad. Joining Instagram-famous Beckham and Leo Murray, Cooper Rust, and Roo Dumoulin is Cooper Poulin. Samuel’s mom, Annick, and the pup explored the city with him before Development Camp and visited Pittsburgh landmarks Mt. Washington and Point State Park, as well as took a tour of PPG Paints Arena.
Poulin Already Has Penguins Connections
Poulin had connections to Pittsburgh even before he was drafted. His godfather is former Penguins goaltender Jocelyn Thibault.
Thibault played 14 seasons in the NHL and two seasons with Patrick Poulin in 1997-98 and 1998-99 as a member of the Canadiens. Thibault came to the Penguins in 2005, following the lockout, but played just 38 total games with the club due to a nagging hip injury that impacted his performance. He was replaced as the starting goalie by then-rookie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Following his retirement from the NHL, Thibault led a group out of Sherbrooke, Quebec to create a QMJHL expansion team in 2012-13: the Phoenix, for which Samuel and his brother played. Thibault serves as general manager of the organization.
Though we might not see Poulin in the starting lineup at PPG Paints Arena for a few years, we can’t wait to learn more about him and watch him grow as a player before he makes his NHL debut.