For the first time since 2014, the Penguins made a selection in the first round on the NHL Draft. With that said....with the 21st pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins have selected....
Poulin, 18 years old, spent the last two seasons playing for the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the QMJHL.
Our friends over at Habs Eyes on the Prize suggest that Poulin’s offense should translate well to the NHL level.
In his most recent season for Sherbrooke, he led the team with 76 points, scoring 29 goals and 47 assists. He’s a large left-winger, standing tall at 6’1” and 212 pounds.
I had Poulin at 26 overall. I have concerns about his skating and his ability to shake defenders. Potential is there, though. Big body. Uses it with a high level of frequency.— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) June 22, 2019
Having a player ranked 26th and the team taking said player at 21 doesn’t seem like too much of a reach.
When preparing for the SB Nation mock draft, our friends at Canes Country selected Poulin and talked specifically about his size and play in the offensive zone.
When watching Poulin, the first thing you notice is his play within the offensive zone. His shot is NHL ready, and is a tool that will be deployed to improve an NHL power play. He is noticeable in possession, and is effective in both creating space below the circles for his linemates, and distributing when defenders play him too closely.
Size-wise, Poulin has a projectable frame which he has already started to fill. His combination of size and strength lends many to peg him as a power winger down the road, but it would be near-sided to think of him only as a hard-nosed net front presence. He certainly has the tools to be a playmaker as well.
A player of Poulin’s ability wouldn’t fall to the end of the first round if there wasn’t some room for improvement. His skating is above average, but not elite, and his transitions within the play could (and should) improve with time. However, at this point in the first round, you bet on talent, especially if a player has the work ethic to improve.
Poulin's best hockey was played in the playoffs. Was an absolute animal at the end of the year and closed out the season in dominant fashion. Started to increase his shot volume right around that time.— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) June 22, 2019
While the consensus among NBC Sports’ panel of Craig Button, Bob McKenzie, and Pierre McGuire was that Poulin may be a few years away from the NHL level, it does make one wonder if the Penguins should have considered moving the pick like they have a tendency to do.
It also leaves one to wonder if his junior stock rises in the following season if the team would throw him into a deal at the deadline for a player who can help now, should the Penguins be poised to contend for another title.
All-in-all, it feels like the Penguins could have gone a little more bold and selected a player like Arthur Kaliyev, whose OHL goal-scoring was near the same level of the likes of Alex Debrincat, but they did however at least select a player with offensive upside, something that will be needed whether it is in the present or in the future.