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NHL Draft

Poulin hoping to keep growing confidence, offensive play

2019 NHL Draft prospect rediscovered game after concussion in QMJHL debut

by Guillaume Lepage @GLepageLNH / Staff Writer

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2019 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

Samuel Poulin has developed into a top prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft despite a bumpy start to his time with Sherbrooke of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Poulin leads Sherbrooke with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 39 games. He also helped Canada win the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August.

He received an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its December Players to Watch list for the 2019 draft, which will be held at Rogers Arena from June 21-22.

"I'm not the kind of guy who sets goals for points at the start of the year or who determines if he played a good game based on points," he said. "I watch the videos to see what I can improve. I do a lot of good things on the ice and that's what I focus on.

"I'm pretty happy with the way I started this season but I think that I could contribute even more. I still have to improve some things in my game to have more impact offensively."

His impact this season is far different than the one he made early last season. He sustained a concussion in his first QMJHL game, and even though he missed six games he said it took him even longer to feel like himself.

"It wasn't a very good start," Poulin said. "The concussion set things back a bit. And when I came back it was harder to pick up the pace and make that adjustment between playing midget AAA and the QMJHL. After the holidays it was better. I gained confidence."

The numbers reflect that growth. He had 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in his first 24 games. But in 31 games after Christmas, he had 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists).

He had six points (five goals, one assist) in 11 QMJHL playoff games, and along with his growing confidence helped him earn a spot on the Hlinka Gretzky Cup team.

Poulin had one assist in five games in the tournament, which is a showcase of the world's best under-18 players, but he made valuable contributions in a defensive role on an energy line.

Poulin's energy and determination, along with his offensive touch, have been noticeable to scouts who have watched him in Sherbrooke this season.

"He's very competitive," Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. "He's always in motion and heading for the net. He's able to get open and make the most of the opportunities when he gets around the net."

Poulin has a style reminiscent of his father, former NHL forward Patrick Poulin. Patrick was selected by the Hartford Whalers with the No. 9 pick of the 1991 NHL Draft and had 235 points (101 goals, 134 assists) in 634 NHL games with the Whalers, Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens.

Patrick retired after the 2001-02 season, a few months after Samuel was born. While Samuel didn't get to see his father play in the NHL in person, he certainly absorbed some of his traits. Now he's trying to build on them.

"He has an NHL shot and quick hands," Sherbrooke coach Stephane Julien said. "In junior you bring the offense in front of the net and find free space. He's able to do that with his power and his puck-protection skills; he is very strong physically. Now it's a matter of finding momentum on offense. I think he can easily be an offensive player. It is simply a question of him finding his comfort zone so that he can establish himself as a player."

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