American Hockey League

Pens’ Poulin feels ‘great’ in hopes of securing NHL roster spot

Poulin (6-1, 208), who can play center and wing, had four goals in 15 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and one assist in three games with Pittsburgh last season before deciding to take a break from the game. He’s been playing top-line center here in Buffalo.

“I like playing center because I just feel like I can lead my line a bit more because you’re the one taking all the draws, making the plays, so I feel more comfortable because I can have this little task on my shoulders,” he said. “Also, I just feel like there’s no dead zones or moments where I don’t need to go in the corners. I feel it just helps me to be more focused the whole game.”

When on his game, Poulin, selected No. 21 in the 2019 NHL Draft, is fierce in all areas of the ice while providing an offensive boost. He’s usually the one sacrificing his body by creating screens in front of the opposing goalie, something he takes pride in.

“The thing I’m [mostly] working on now is just being more defensively aware and reliable,” Poulin said. “[Sidney Crosby] and [Evgeni Malkin] are on the first two lines in Pittsburgh, so I won’t be playing on those two lines. If I ever make the team, it’s probably going to be on the third- or fourth line. I have to be able to play against the best line on the other team so, during the camp, I’ll be working on that for sure to improve my game.”

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach J.D. Forrest said Poulin is at his best when his feet are constantly moving.

“I mean, he’s still rounding it out; he’s still a young player,” Forrest said. “He didn’t play a lot last year and we’re still constantly working on just keeping his pace up and keeping his feet moving. He has a tendency to get his feet going and then kind of glide.

“When those feet are moving and he’s at top speed, he’s a train out there and you’re not going to stop him so that’s something we work with him quite a bit.”

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