A key player makes a positive first impression
Ryan Poehling carries himself with a certain confidence. It is not cockiness, it is not arrogance, it is simply a result of ample preparation for events like these, even if it was just Development Camp.
"They always preach to the young guys that you only get one chance to make a first impression,” stated the 18-year-old after the event. “I think I did a good job of that and I think the coaching staff appreciated it. Going in, a lot of people didn't think I had the offensive ability I do, and it was good to show that I have it."
Martin Lapointe, the newly minted director of player personnel, agrees that Poehling made the most of his first opportunity.
“Really, really good. He’s got size and skating ability; he’s got good hockey sensibility. His maturity level is really good for a young guy. I think we have a hockey player in him.”
Poehling will return to St. Cloud State University in Minnesota in the fall, but a future in the NHL appears likely. Poehling didn’t overly stand out during the Canadiens‘ development camp, but was steady, and absorbed any and all instruction that came his way.
“I think I did a good job taking everything in and learning from the older guys. I want to thank them for that.”
The recent first-round draft pick seems to be ready to handle the next step in his career. His future in Montreal should be bright, and he already manages the media like a pro. With cameras in his face, he is thoughtful in answering questions and does not shy away. He says growing up in the Minnesota high school hockey system, and having older brothers who had experienced it before him has helped the young forward prepare for this moment.
“The whole experience is a lot to take in. But I’ve been raised the right way, and to handle it the right way.”
And that, he has.
“You’ve got a player there.” - Martin Lapointe.
The 2017 second-round pick turned heads throughout the development camp, especially displaying flashes of offensive brilliance during game scenarios. He scored in all but one scrimmage, assisting on a Scott Conway goal in the one match he didn’t hit the scoresheet himself. It was an excellent showing for the skilled 18-year-old Finn.
Koberstein and Saulnier Drop ‘Em
It was one way to make an impression at camp. In the final scrimmage, defenceman Nikolas Koberstein and left-winger Brennan Saulnier dropped the gloves. Korberstein is a Canadiens fifth-round draft pick from 2014, while Saulnier was an invitee to camp. It looked like a heavyweight bout with a couple of haymakers landed, and the players continuing to chirp each other in the penalty box where they both sat for two minutes.
Preaching Patience with Scherbak
Nikita Scherbak saved his best for the last day of scrimmages at camp. He scored both goals for Team Red in a losing effort. This time Scherbak is rising to the occasion of being a leader on the ice, not just off it.
The 2014 first-round selection has left something to be desired in recent years, although it feels like we are just waiting for him to burst onto the scene and become a consistent game-breaker on the ice. His skill level is there, now it’s about putting it all together.
Martin Lapointe urges everyone to be patient. “You can’t forget that he was a late birthday. After the draft he played one more year in junior and that’s it. He turned pro the following year. And it’s a big step. Obviously, to turn pro and make the big club you have to be consistent in your play, and he’s not quite there yet.”