PROSPECT UPDATE: POULIN, LÉGARÉ DOMINATING QMJHL PLAYOFFS
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – To put it as mildly as possible, Samuel Poulin and Nathan Légaré have been putting on a scoring clinic in the Québec Major Junior Hockey League Playoffs.
The pair of Penguins prospects are racking up the points during the postseason for a loaded Val-d’Or Foreurs team. Légaré leads all players in the QMJHL Playoffs with 12 goals in nine games played. He’s also tied for the Foreurs’ team lead with 15 points total.
Not to be outshined, Poulin is also producing at a goal-per-game clip, with nine tallies through nine playoff games. That places him second on the team while his 14 points rank third.
Their goal-scoring measures are not an aberration, either.
Légaré and Poulin are consistently creating scoring chances on a night-in, night-out basis, and the pair hold the top two spots for shots on goal in the playoffs. The QMJHL also publishes a stat called “dangerous shots” for grade-A scoring chances that make it to the net. The Penguins prospects sit first and second in that category, too.
The individual statistics are wildly impressive, and now they have the chance to earn a major team accolade, as well.
Next up for Poulin, Légaré and the rest of Val-d’Or is the QMJHL Final, a best-of-seven series against the Victoriaville Tigres. The Foreurs have not lost a game yet in the playoffs, going 9-0 across a trio of best-of-five series. The league final will start Thursday, May 27.
Poulin and Légaré were both drafted by Pittsburgh in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, taken in the first and third rounds, respectively. Their performances since draft day almost instantly catapulted them to the top of the organization’s prospect depth chart, and their gaudy numbers this season – both regular season and playoffs – have justified that evaluation.
The pair of forwards are both 20 years old, meaning this is their final season of junior eligibility. Poulin and Légaré will turn pro in the fall.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT PUUSTINEN
Another Penguins prospect, Valtteri Puustinen, is being rewarded for an incredibly impressive 2020-21 season.
Puustinen is representing his native Finland at the 2021 IIHF World Championships. Puustinen did not play in either of Finland’s first two games of the tournament, but made his debut on Tuesday against Norway. Finland won the game, 5-2 and Puustinen registered a plus-1 rating in 14 minutes of ice time.
Like Poulin and Légaré, Puustinen was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2019, but he was taken in the seventh and final round, 203rd overall. He’s become a sleeper hit, as the speedy, five-foot-nine forward led his team in the Finnish Liiga in each of the last two seasons. This year, he topped HPK with 21 goals while also setting a career mark with 41 points in 51 games.
Puustinen was signed to a two-year, entry-level contract by Pittsburgh and is expected to come overseas to join the organization next season.