VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- By now, the entirety of the Penguins' fan base has been told the tale of Samuel Poulin and Nathan Legare, the team's top two picks in the NHL Draft over the weekend. How they're both French-Canadian power forwards who wear No. 29 and who've even been best buds since age 8. And for all we know, they might wind up having even more in common.
There are only two discernible differences to my eye:
1. Poulin's a lefty, Legare a righty. Duh.
2. Legare's got a Howitzer of a one-timer.
As Alex D'Orio, the Penguins' goaltending prospect who played both against and with Legare this past winter, told our Taylor Haase after the draft, "His shot is incredible, especially for his age. He just whips it.”
For the most part, breaking down Legare's game is as simple as breaking down his frame. He's a sturdy 6 feet, 205 pounds, and, like Poulin, he puts it to prototypical power-forward use:
Above, he's the net-front presence on the Baie-Comeau power play, fending off two defenseman and an aggressive goaltender as the shot arrives from the left point. Through that, he tracks the puck, stays strong on his skates, and pounds it home while everyone else tumbles.
And before I proceed to the shot, yeah, his skating's a work in progress, but it's hardly awful for someone that stocky at that age:
Notice, too, how he uses his right shoulder and arm to blow by that defenseman on the left boards. That's from the first grade in power forward school.
OK, so forget all that and watch these three shots:
That, mes amis, is a power-play triggerman.
On the first two up there, he sets himself atop the left circle like you-know-who, cocks the stick and waits ravenously for the setup. Infinitely more important, he absolutely rips the thing upon arrival. I didn't count how many of his 45 goals in 68 games came on sequences like that, but I'll share that nearly half of the 20 I studies were like that.
Luc Gauthier, the Penguins' Quebec scout, praised not only the shot but also the passion for shoot: "Nathan wants to shoot. That's his game. That's one of the things we liked about him."
It's evident. On the third goal up there, he's rejected once, resets and hacks away -- a little awkwardly because of tighter coverage -- to finish.
At the same time, when confronted with a can't-shoot setting, I also found some of this:
There are blind, dumb shooters in hockey, and then there's that. Legare gets fed twice from the left point. Doesn't like it the first time, pushes right puck. Doesn't really like it the second time, either. But when he notices the nearby defenseman back way off -- respecting the one-timer -- he takes one Phil Kessel-type stride toward the right hash and converts a Kessel-type wrister instead.
Not surprisingly, when Legare was asked at Rogers Place to describe his strength, he quickly replied, "My shot."
More from our talk:
I wrote it about Poulin and I'll echo about his bud: It's going to be a blast watching these two grow.
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