The Gifted article series from The Athletic (Sam Poulin)

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The Gifted article series from The Athletic (Sam Poulin)

Postby FLPensFan on Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:04 pm

I've never seen this series that is apparently in its 4th year, but, Scott Wheeler of The Athletic has a series called The Gifted, where he takes a look at different players and what defining skill makes them a gifted player. Below is the introduction as to what the series is looking at, as well as the link:

The Gifted: Samuel Poulin

In hockey, as in life, there are archetypes built on hyperbole and buzzwords that are designed to fit every player into a predefined box. Scouts and evaluators often fall prey to lazily characterizing young prospects in this way: the power forward, the two-way center, the one-dimensional scorer, the stay-at-home defenseman. But sometimes, just sometimes, there’s a player who is so different from everyone else in approach or ability that he is able to distinguish himself through his uniqueness. These players have turned one skill into the body of their game and highlight all of the different ways hockey can be played at the highest levels. “The Gifted” is a 10-part series that examines, through video, the NHL’s most fascinating prospects and the unique skill sets that define them. By popular demand, “The Gifted” is back for a fourth year at The Athletic.

Looking at the 10 players he has reviewed each year, they aren't all top lottery picks. There's no Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko, or Rasmus Dahlen, or Svechnikov. But there are mainly 1st round picks and some good ones, but it wasn't always the guys that had the huge fanfare.

The reason I bring this article up is, #9 on this list for this year and the 2019 draft is the Penguins Samuel Poulin. A few of the highlights for those who don't have an Athletic subscription

- Writer says he had been waiting for Poulin to break out and become a dominant player, and in 2nd half of last season, basically 2020 calendar year, he did that. Said Poulin's 12 game point streak in 2020 from late January to late February may have been the best stretch of hockey by ANY CHL prospect last season (Poulin is in QMJHL, CHL covers QMJHL, OHL, and WHL). He had 13 goals and 32 points during that point streak and looked "unstoppable."

- The basic summary here is that while a power game has always been the key trait of Poulin's game, this season, he really elevated his finesse game this year.

- In terms of things like Even Strength points per game, overall points per game, and shots per game, Poulin was 6th to 8th best in the entire QMJHL. When you look only at players that were under 19 when the season started, he 2nd to 4th in those categories for the QMJHL players in that age range.

- Reading about his strength, I came away impressed, especially with video breakdown. Video showed that Poulin is tough to knock off his skates, and will use his body/weight to protect the puck.

- In the finesse department, Wheeler talked about this taking longer to develop. He talked about his shot, having a good wrister, but also things like, unlike a lot of other young prospects, he often shoots low and accurate shots...he's hitting the net, and if his shot isn't going in, his low shots often generate rebound chances for players in front of the net. He's accurate with his shot, he's good on one-timers. But, Wheeler also said finesse was more than just about his shot. Simple things like receiving a pass on his forehand at top speed and being able to quickly get it to his backhand for a pass off to teammates, or a guy like him that weighs 200 pounds ability to control the puck well whether it is at the heel, or toe, whether he's skating forward, backwards, or even in a spin.

- The finesse stuff...the saucer pass, the hard passes up the ice, the delicate pass to a space, etc, is the stuff that is what is often missing from your top 9, bottom 6 type guys. Poulin is excelling at these types of things now.

The article didn't say "oh, he's NHL ready now." Just said that his power, along with honing those finesse skills this year, give him elements that will make him much more successful at that level.

I also add that someone in the comments mentioned Dobber Prospects review of Poulin. Dobber Prospects has been around for awhile. They focus kind of like how Hockeys Future used to, on a prospects overall skill level, as well as their likelihood to make the NHL.

From Dobber, Poulin rated an 8.0 (or 80% certainty) he will make the NHL, and his Fantasy upside was listed as 8.2. For forwards, the explanation given is that multiply that value by 10 to get their projected upside point totals in a best case scenario (their example was, playing on a line with Connor McDavid all season). It doesn't mean that they are going to produce at that level season after season. Still, an 82 point player at under perfect conditions is exciting. Dobber only looks at prospects, so, here are some other Penguins prospects for reference:

- Nathan Legare, 7.0 NHL certainty (70%), 6.5 Fantasy upside (65 points in best case scenario)
- Fillip Hallander, 7.2 NHL certainty, 6.3 Fantasy upside
- Valterri Puustinen, 7.0 NHL certainty, 6.7 Fantasy upside
- Pierre-Olivier Joseph, 8.2 NHL certainty, 7.7 fantasy upside (for defensemen, fantasy upside # times 7 is projected point total, so POJ comes in at 50-55 points best case, career season)
- John Marino, 9.0 NHL certainty (guys with 9+ are already in NHL), fanstasy upside 5.5 (meaning 35 point player)
- Tristan Jarry, 9.0 NHL certainty, 7.5 fantasy upside (guys in 9.5-10 range are elite and a very rare rating. 7.5 to 9.0 is considered top 10 goalie in NHL range)
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