Once viewed as a blue-chip prospect - he was drafted ninth-overall by the Hartford Whalers in 1991 after a 32-goal and 70-point season in 56 games with the St. Hyacinthe Laser, ahead of the likes of Martin Lapointe (10th), Brian Rolston (11th), Philippe Boucher (13th), Pat Peake (14th), Alexei Kovalev (15th), Markus Naslund (16th), Glen Murray (18th), Martin Rucinsky (20th), Dean McAmmond (22nd), Ray Whitney (23rd), Zigmund Palffy (26th), Steve Staios (27th), Sandis Ozolinsh (30th), Jozef Stumpel (40th), Yanic Perreault (47th), Chris Osgood (54th), Igor Kravchuk (71st), Alexei Zhitnik (81st), Mariusz Czerkawski (106th), Dmitri Yushkevich (122nd), Brian Holzinger (124th), Oleg Petrov (127th), Dmitri Mironov (160th), Igor Ulanov (203rd), and even Brian Savage (171st) - Patrick Poulin became a reliable middle-six forward for a lot of the 1990s.
His best offensive season was his rookie year, when he posted 20 goals, 31 assists and 51 points with the Whalers, who sold high on him and traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks after just 9 games in the 1993-94 season, when he had just amassed 3 points (2 goals and an assist); he was accompanied by Eric Weinrich while Steve Larmer and Bryan Marchment went to Hartford.
For his next two trades, he was accompanied by Ulanov, first from Chicago to the Tampa Bay Lightning (for Enrico Ciccone and an exchange of draft picks), then from Tampa to the Montréal Canadiens (with enforcer Mick Vukota, for sniper Stéphane Richer, prospect David Wilkie and pest Darcy Tucker).
The late-1990s Habs were a cemetery for hockey players, particularly local boys (Patrick Traverse, Vincent Damphousse, Marc Bureau, Jocelyn Thibault, Éric Houde, François Groleau, Jonathan Delisle, Sylvain Blouin, Jean-François Jomphe, Frédéric Chabot, Alain Nasreddine, Dave Morissette, Jesse Bélanger, Christian Laflamme, and possibly the team's worst free-agent signing ever, Randy McKay), and Poulin was no exception. After posting 31 goals and 75 points in 277 games over five seasons with the Canadiens, he retired after spending the end of the 2001-02 season with their farm team, the Québec Citadelles.
Here he is in better times, wearing the Whalers' final away (dark blue) uniform, from Topps' 1992-93 O-Pee-Chee Premier set: