The Habs added some much-needed depth down the middle on Friday, selecting centre Ryan Poehling from St. Cloud State of the NCAA with the 25th overall pick of the draft. He was the youngest player in the NCAA this past season as he fast-tracked through high school to get to college a year early to play with his twin brothers.
DOB: January 3, 1999 – Lakeville, Minnesota
Weight: 185 lbs
CSB: 13 (North American Skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 21
Future Considerations: 21
Hockey News: 17
Future Considerations: Poehling is a big, solid, two-way center who infuses power aspects into his game. He’s a big bodied center who has his fingers all over the offensive playbook for his team. While not a speed skating champion, he moves effectively enough to excel on the rush and create space with quick turns to open ice. He thinks the game at an elite level and is equally effective at kick starting or finishing players.
McKeen’s: Despite his clear struggles against the often much older competition in the collegiate ranks, there are signs that Poehling can be a special player. Most notably, his game is incredibly mature. He plays a smart game, avoiding unnecessary risks. His vision in the offensive zone is tantalizing.
Red Line Report: Big, smart, physical, and is very active at both ends of the ice. Plays a strong, mature two-way game, as illustrated by his tremendous work as a penalty killer, where he is frequently dangerous and creates many turnovers and shorthanded 2-on-1s with his relentless forechecking pressure. Strong on the puck and aggressive in pursuit. He excels at using his frame to protect the puck while using his vision to see the ice and create scoring chances. Has a long, powerful stride and very good first-step explosion – accelerates quickly to top speed.
ISS: Poehling plays a responsible game – he’s a genuine 200 ft’ player and he’s a young man who backchecks as hard as he forechecks. Smart player, knows where to go on the ice to get the puck and to check. He’s really too unselfish – he’s got a pass first mentality but he’s got the skills to become a big-time scorer.
ESPN – Pronman: Poehling is a smart playmaker down the middle, who can score as well. He displays good hand-eye coordination, consistently makes above-average skill plays and can play with pace. His skating isn’t fantastic but shows at an average level. Defensively, he thinks the game fine, but a thin frame limits his ability to win battles despite a willingness to compete.
HP Blackbook: Ryan plays a sound game positionally coming back into his own end and has a knack for creating turnovers on the back check. Poehling started to adjust to the speed in which plays developed in his own end as the season progressed but if there is a wart in his game it would be his defensive awareness in the defensive zone.
NHL Central Scouting (David Gregory): I think he has great range and has a nice, long, strong stride. He uses good puck protection and has a long reach. He can be effective in traffic and out of traffic and I like his vision. There is really nice upside with this player.
The Hockey News: “There are parts to his game that are behind where they should be,” said a scout. “But that being said, college hockey was not too good for him. He played in one of the best conferences, and even though he didn’t excel at times, the pace of the game was never too fast for him.”
LWOS: Poehling has the potential to be a top six centre at the next level. There is room to improve in the offensive end of the ice, and expect his point totals to increase as he has more experience in the NCAA. Poehling’s style compares to Patrick Berglund of the St. Louis Blues, but this is a style comparison only, and not one based on talent.
Recruites: “He plays a really mature game; he’s a very smart player,” said one US-based scout. “Hockey sense is probably the best asset, really responsible defensively, supports pucks very well, he anticipates plays, always around the puck.” Poehling’s all-around game and competitiveness are what make him one of the safer picks in the draft and a sure bet to be selected in the first round, perhaps even top 20.
Although he’s a college player, the fact that he has already played a full season there makes his development trajectory closer to players drafted out of junior. He has three years of eligibility left and will likely need at least two of those to fill out his frame. After that, a year or two in the minors will probably be needed.