Montreal Canadiens 2017 NHL Draft: Ryan Poehling – Size, Vision and Leadership

Ryan Poehling (Photo by Rick Stephens | © Rocket Sports Media) Mandatory Credit Required

by Blain Potvin, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

We will look at prospects that may be available when the Habs select late in the first round. Within the Canadiens’ system, no position demands attention more than at center.

The demand is for the Habs to have a big, top six, center. This has been a decade’s old struggle that continues to dominate discussions.

Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State University (NCHC) 
January 3, 1999 | Lakeville, Minnesota, USA
6-3, 185 lbs. | Shoots L | @ryanpoehling
2016-’17: 35 GP, 7 G, 6 A, 13 PTS (St. Cloud State Huskies)

CSB: No. 13 (NA Skaters) | ISS: No. 19 | THN: No. 17 | HP: No. 14 | FC: No. 20

A possible target for the Canadiens in the 2017 NHL Entry draft (Edit: Habs selected Poehling 25th in 2017), could be 6-foot-3-inch, 185-pound Ryan Poehling. The left-handed Poehling played heavy minutes at St. Cloud State University playing in all situations, and even graduated to top line duties by the end of the season. He was also an easy selection for Team USA to make to join them in Slovakia for the World Under-18 tournament.

This selection is not one that will pay immediate dividends. He will require several seasons to mature his game and develop into a top six centerman. However, he could very well be worth the wait.

Poehling’s offensive numbers at St. Cloud seem underwhelming until you take into account his age. When up against his own age group in international play, his numbers improve dramatically. This indicates his offensive potential that simply needs time to be refined, which is something that should happen as his confidence grows.

Poehling graduated high school early to take advantage of an opportunity to play hockey with his older brothers at St. Cloud State. Successfully completing such a feat shows the young man to be intelligent, focused, dedicated and mature enough to understand the implications of being a hockey player. It also shows his ability to make choices that will further his development as a player.

As a player, Poehling is the type that any GM would like to add to his roster. He has a large, projectable frame. He is also an intelligent player who is willing to fulfill any role, and works diligently to refine his game. He shines when playing a physical game, especially along the boards where he wins more one-on-one battles than he loses.

“He’s searching to find his game and find his spot in there. Right now it just bubbles up a lot. But when the lid blows off, look out. He’s going to be real high-impact player at this level and beyond.” — St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko

He excels when he translates that aggressive style into the offensive zone. When going strong into the end boards on the forecheck, he can gain possession that allows him to use his on-ice vision to employ his excellent playmaking abilities to feed the puck to his linemates and generate scoring chances.

He also enjoys playing a north-south game where he uses his teammates to gain the offensive zone. This style masks his inability to stickhandle to beat defenders one-on-one. It also allows his teammates more time and space as he plays the hard-nosed game of going to the net to gain tip ins, and to employ a quick release to score. That said, he tends to be more of a pass first player.

He is strong defensively, being used in any situation which is aided by his proficiency in the face-off circle. Poehling has worked diligently at his defensive positioning. His long reach and active stick allows him to be highly effective, and offsets any errors in his positioning. His willingness to play an aggressive, physical game allows him to be effective in support of his defencemen clearing the front of the net, or to gain possession along the boards and launch the transition game.

All that said, Poehling does have some holes to his game. Despite good overall speed and a higher-than-average work ethic, he has not been able to improve his first step foot speed before his draft season. Regardless, his skating style is effective and useful in puck protection, as well as laterally. He also had difficulty producing offensively in the NCAA. Yet, as a true freshman, that was to be expected.

Poehling will be a long-term project before he can become an impactful player in the NHL. He projects as a solid top six center who will be called upon to play a two-way game.

In terms of style, he is a larger framed version of Patrice Bergeron. That said, he is one that is not as good defensively, offensively, or in the faceoff circle, but effective nonetheless. He is not projected to become the top line center the Canadiens and their fans crave, but would be an excellent fit in the team’s long-term plans.

Need to catch up on potential draftees? You will find the All Habs draft archive here or use the quick links below to check out our most recent articles on the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

2017 NHL Entry Draft on All Habs Hockey Magazine
In case you missed them! Here are the most recent articles on the draft.
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Edited by Donna Sim