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Sam Poulin skating for the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of fans
Photo credit: Fox 43

Former Pittsburgh Penguins First Round Pick Could be Nearing a Return to the NHL

Published January 9, 2024 at 3:00 PM
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Sam Poulin Is in a Much Better Place in 2024 Finding His Way Back into the Baby Pens Lineup

Arguably one of the best forward prospects in the Penguins' organization, Poulin took a three-month hiatus from the game last year to attend to his mental health. Add to that, missing all of November and half of December due to a recent injury.

Poulin, 22, played in just 13 official AHL games in 2023 (with no NHL action) as a result of these issues. However, Poulin is happy to be back in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins lineup in the early going of 2024, having had what he called one of his worst hockey seasons.

Poulin told the Post-Gazette,
"I'm in a much better space right now. It was a really tough year on the hockey side last year." "Obviously, I want to support my team and play hockey. I want to keep developing as a hockey player.»



Poulin was chosen by the Penguins with the 21st overall pick in the 2019 NHL entry draft. He scored 16 goals in 72 games during his successful rookie AHL season. He skated in three games for the Penguins in October 2022, and scored his first NHL point during that time.

However, Poulin left the game in December of 2022 and returned home to Quebec. In April of last year, he made two game appearances with the Baby Pens, and he has remained a member of the team ever since.

One of the most valuable lessons that he has learned in his time away is to listen to your body.

«Everyone's dealing with stuff, whether you're a hockey player, whether you're a plumber, doesn't matter,» Poulin said. «We're all humans, and I think it's a matter of dealing with stuff once [it] show[s] up and not escaping a situation or not escaping a problem.»

He is trying to live each day by this motto: Try to have a better day then the day before. It can apply not just to hockey but everyday life.

Poulin is Ready to Focus on Being a Better All-Around Player with Puck Management and Decision Making



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Now that he is back from injury, he can focus on the game that he loves, hockey.

«Honestly, it feels so good to be back,» Poulin said, «and just play hockey and be back to being healthy.»

Since his return to the ice, he is playing excellent at center in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He has 4 goals and 2 assists over his last nine games.

«I didn't feel like I had missed so many weeks, I felt comfortable right away,» Poulin said of his return. «I did the work to make sure that I was fine when I got back. So I think the work paid off.»

As long as he can stay healthy and continue to improve on his gameplay, he has a good chance of reaching his overall goal with the sport. Making it back to the NHL and having a long career.

Poulin, at 6-foot-2, 213-pounds, remains an interest to the Penguins, even after they added an abundance of forwards in the off season. If he can strengthen his two-way play a return to the big club in Pittsburgh is not out of the question.

For now, Poulin is happy with his progress and is grateful after after the 2023 he had.

«It was a tough year, but I think the work I did to deal with the stuff that I was dealing with will pay off eventually,» Poulin said. «I'm just really confident in this overall process of doing things one day at a time. I know that if I keep doing those things, good things will happen.»

As Read On: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Penguins Pipeline: Sam Poulin in a ‘much better space,' finding his way again in Wilkes-Barre
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January 9   |   184 answers
Former Pittsburgh Penguins First Round Pick Could be Nearing a Return to the NHL

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