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Getting to know Montreal Canadiens 25th-overall selection Ryan Poehling

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Poehling accomplished the rare feat of playing in the NCAA as a 17-year-old.

2017 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With their 25th-overall selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens have selected centre Ryan Poehling.

Poehling played his first year of university as a 17-year-old, joining his twin brothers as they all played their freshman seasons with St. Cloud State University. There he produced 13 points in 35 games, outscoring his brothers who are several years his senior. Poehling was the youngest player in the NCAA.

Image credit: EliteProspects

Poehling plays a strong two-way game, using decent speed to forecheck well, and taking advantage of his large frame to cause havoc around the crease. He’s never been a high-end goal-scorer, but does have good hands around the goal, and can tip in point shots, which is where the majority of his offence came from this season.

His all-around ability was the main reason why he was approached to join St. Cloud State, and what will ultimately allow him to play in the NHL. There’s little doubt about him reaching the top level. The main concerns are about how high his ceiling is.

There isn’t much about his skill set that suggests he’s due for an offensive breakout, but rather will see limited offensive output throughout his career, making his mark with his offensive-zone forecheck and puck protection abilities.

Scouting

Future Considerations

“Big, accountable center who has all the talent to be a two-way threat down the road. Strong on the puck and able to force defenders back with his strength and speed. Cerebral vision and sees play development when skating the puck or setting up shop. Puck skill isn’t Datsyukian but he spreads the puck around with crisp passes and can manage to keep the puck safe with his reach and positioning. Sky’s the limit if he works on foot speed, and polishes his offensive game.”

Hockey Prospect Black Book

Poehling plays a straight ahead simple game down the middle of the ice. He has excellent skating and explosiveness coming into the offensive zone. Ryan doesn’t have elite hands and stick handing ability, but uses his strong lower body and skating to beat defenders 1 on 1. Ryan plays a sound game positionally coming back into his own end and has a knack for creating turnovers on the back check.

Rankings

DraftBuzz Hockey: 18
Future Considerations: 21
Hockey Prospect: 21
ISS Hockey: 13 (NA)
McKeen’s: 26
Craig Button: 12
Bob McKenzie: 19

In Poehling, the Habs will have a roster player in a few years’ time. He already has one of his five years of collegiate eligibility under his belt, placing him one year closer to entering the NHL than most prospects committed to the NCAA in this year’s draft. He won’t be the answer to the Canadiens lack of a top-line centre, and might not be a top-six option. But there is very little chance that he will turn out to be a bust, and should at least be a long-term option centering the third line when his college career comes to an end.