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Poulin hoping speed, grit help earn spot with Penguins

Forward, No. 21 pick in 2019 Draft, compares game to Landeskog of Avalanche

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Samuel Poulin could be part of a stylistic shift toward a more physical approach for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If that proves true, the 18-year-old forward wouldn't mind being at the forefront.

"I'm going to try to make the team right away," Poulin said during Penguins development camp in June. "It's my dream to play in the NHL. So I'll try to make my place on the team right away. ... I'll do everything I can to make that team right away."

Even with that goal, it's unlikely Poulin will debut with Pittsburgh this season after being selected with the No. 21 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft. But choosing a forward like him could provide a look at where the Penguins are heading.

Video: Penguins draft F Samuel Poulin No. 21

After building around a core of veterans with speedy young forwards, including Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, Pittsburgh has added grit in the past two offseasons. Poulin (6-foot-1, 208 pounds) continued that trend.

"Samuel, we're really happy to get. He's a power forward," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. "Great character. ... He can play two positions, center and left wing. So we're real happy with him."

Asked what he would like to improve, Poulin mentioned his skating, something high-profile Pittsburgh prospects have been known for in the past.

"It's speed, skill and being physical," said Poulin, who models his game after Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois. "So I just think it went like this because they needed guys like that on their team. That's the way it is."

Poulin had 76 points (29 goals, 47 assists) as captain of Sherbrooke of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. Although he had success at the junior level, the son of former NHL forward Patrick Poulin, who played 11 seasons in the League, was taken aback by the speed during development camp.

"Guys are maybe older, a little bit stronger," Samuel Poulin said. "The game stays the same. Just have to go out there and work out."

It helped to have forward Nathan Legare, whom the Penguins traded up to select in the third round (No. 74) of the 2019 draft, at development camp. Poulin and Legare grew up in Quebec and are childhood friends who admittedly never thought they'd have the chance to play in the NHL together.

Legare said Poulin has always been the more skilled of the two, but Legare's physicality has trumped Poulin's. When on the same line, Legare (6-0, 205) said they complete each other.

At some point, they might get a chance to showcase that in the NHL. For now, Poulin is just glad to have a chance.

"I think we don't realize it yet," Poulin said. "We both just wanted to get drafted by any team. It finally appeared that we're on the same team, so it's pretty awesome to be out there together."



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