On Day 1 of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, BC, it would be the Phoenix that rose to the top.
Sherbrooke winger Samuel Poulin stepped on stage after being selected 21st overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, making him the first player chosen from a QMJHL club at the annual event. The 18-year-old from Blainville, Quebec led the Phoenix in scoring during the regular season with 76 points in 67 games. He would continue that trend into the postseason by leading his club into round two of the President Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive year while by scoring eight times and recording 14 points in 10 games, all the while playing a determined, two-way game.
Selected second overall by the Phoenix in the 2017 QMJHL Draft, Poulin has been a steady offensive threat during his time in the league, producing 141 points in 143 regular season and playoff games combined. He becomes not only the highest NHL-drafted Phoenix player in franchise history, but also the first from the organization to be chosen in the opening round. Overall, he is the fifth player in team history to hear his name called out at the NHL Entry Draft and the first since goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick was chosen by the St. Louis Blues in the second round back in 2016.
Poulin’s hockey roots run deep. His father, Patrick, was chosen ninth overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. He would go on to suit up for 634 NHL regular season games with four different teams.
As for the Penguins franchise, this marks the seventh time it has selected a QMJHL player in the first round. That includes a trio of legendary first-overall choices; Mario Lemieux (1984), Marc-Andre Fleury (2003) and Sidney Crosby (2005). Other high profile QMJHL alumni that have made their way to Pittsburgh via the draft in previous years includes Pierre Larouche (first round, 1974), Max Talbot (eighth round, 2002) and Kris Letang (third round, 2005). Their most recent QMJHL draftee before Poulin was Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defenseman Zachary Lauzon, who was chosen in the second round in 2017.