Samuel Poulin has been in the spotlight his entire life.
You could say he was born to play the game.
Growing up in the spotlight as the son of former NHL 1st rounder and veteran of over 600 NHL games can’t be easy, but Samuel Poulin has certainly made it look that way.
You don’t have to spend too much time around Poulin to see the love and passion he has for the game.
The pride of Blainville, Quebec is embarking on what might be his final year in the QMJHL.
Calling the last twelve months of his life a whirlwind would be an understatement.
From NHL Draft year pressure, to a breakout career season with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, to being selected in the first round 21st overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the mature well spoken scoring winger experienced it all.
“It was exciting year and there was definitely a lot going on,” confessed Poulin.
So how did the highly touted forward feel he handled all the pressure?
“I tried to take it one day at a time,” confessed Poulin.
“There’s not much you can do, you just have to focus on what you are doing the ice. Everything else isn’t in your power.”
“Scouts upstairs are going to have their own opinions about your game, so if you play good you are going to have more chances of getting drafted, so that’s what I was trying to do.”
In what some players call the most stressful year of their lives Samuel Poulin had a career year embracing his unique journey every step of the way.
“From the Prospect’s game to the Subway Series, to the Combine and on to the Draft, it just seemed like everything was going on at the same time, but at the same time it was really fun,” admitted Poulin.
“It was a nice journey to go through and to obviously play for the Penguins is great.”
“You learn so much from those guys,” Poulin said referring to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
On September 22nd all the hard work, dedication paid off, the Penguins signed Poulin who is arguably one of the their top prospects to an Entry Level Contract.
“I’m glad, I had such a great experience there and I’m back in Sherbrooke, off to a good to a start.”
That’s putting it mildly.
In 14 games this season Poulin has 9 goals and 16 assists and is a staggering + 16.
“I’m really excited and like our team,” said Poulin.
The Sherbrooke Phoenix Captain’s journey in the QMJHL didn’t get off to a blistering start.
Poulin struggled out of gates two seasons ago batting injuries and high expectations.
“At the start for sure, it was something that I was thinking about a lot.”
“I just tried to put that behind me and have fun out on the ice.”
“It’s not really good if you put too much pressure on yourself, I just tried to go out there and have fun, just like we did as kids, and good things will happen.”
Poulin finished his rookie campaign with 45 points in 55 games and added 6 pts in 11 playoff games.
There’s no question the early adversity Poulin faced definitely helped shape the person and player.
It also helps to have a father that has experienced all the ups and downs and the similar pressures along the way.
“He went through all that process when he was my age, it wasn’t as big back then with all the media coverage and everything, but at the same time he knew what to expect with my season and all the pressure that comes with it, but he just tried to tell me to do my own thing and try not to over think all the exterior stuff.”
Invaluable advice indeed.
Patrick Poulin hardly missed one of his son’s games during his draft year.
“He gave me some advice after each game and stuff to work on and areas in which to improve, so that for sure helped me,” Poulin said with a smile.
Poulin’s first NHL experience may be behind him, but it’s one he will never forget.
“It is surreal,” Poulin said of being in the same dressing room with the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Letang.
“I still remember watching them win the Stanley Cup in 2009, I think I was like eight years old or something.”
“I modelled my game after them, they were my role models, so its really weird when you first step in to think that some of them will be your future teammates. At first it’s pretty impressive, but after a while you just have to think about them being regular teammates.”
“They are good guys, they are human-beings as well, so you have to put that away. It was a camp so you try to impress and do the best you can.”
It just so happened the Phoenix were in town to take on the Rimouski Oceanic when Poulin’s future teammate’s number was being retired.
What happened next was certainly unexpected.
“He didn’t have to do that,” Poulin said of Crosby giving him a shoutout during the ceremony.
“It was a great act of class, and just goes to show how he cares about the people around him. I really appreciated what he did.”
There’s no question Poulin will be in Pittsburgh soon enough, but for now the highly skilled power forward remains focused on moment and is driven to win.
“It’s really fun to win most of your games, since I came into the league we have had an average team.”
“It sucks to lose, it’s nice to win and have some fun in the locker room, the chemistry is good on the team.”
“Everybody wants to win and as hockey players that’s what it’s all about, so I’m really proud of what we are doing right now.”
The entire organization should be proud of what they are accomplishing right now in the QMJHL.
Jocelyn Thibault and his staff have built a fantastic hockey club. It remains to be seen what moves the Phoenix will make heading into the QMJHL Trade Period, but one thing is for certain Samuel Poulin will be leading the way.