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Thoughts and impressions from Day 1 of Montreal Canadiens development camp

The first of three scrimmages is in the books.

Shanna Martin

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that Ryan Poehling has only played one NHL game. I mean, it’s not actually hard to remember because that one game was so remarkable and so memorable but it’s not nearly a stretch to say that Poehling was the best player at Montreal Canadiens development camp on Wednesday evening.

He was dominant.

Whether it was putting pucks between the legs of defenders or setting up teammates for easy tap ins, Poehling was just having fun at the Complexe Bell in Brossard.

Josh Brook was also very, very good. The first thing that jumped out for me was his skating. I’m not sure if it improved from his time in Laval at the end of last season, but I thought he was brilliant.

The crowd that showed up at Brossard was most excited to see first-round pick Cole Caufield. It was my first time seeing him live, and what struck me was two things: one, his release is out of this world and two, he knows where to go to score goals. He’s like a predator waiting to pounce in the offensive zone. He didn’t get 72 goals by accident.

Quick Hits

  • The small forwards - Caufield, Rhett Pitlick, and Yevgeni Oksentyuk - all stood out for positive reasons. Pitlick in particular had skating and speed that forced you to pay attention to him. Oksentyuk showed puck skills and made a few plays to create chances.
  • Last year, the Canadiens had several players from European professional leagues come to development camp. David Sklenicka is still with the organization, and Otto Leskinen was a tryout but signed an NHL contract and was back at camp. Last year, I noticed Leskinen’s shot and while he did unleash it once on Wednesday, I thought his game was much more well-rounded.

I think that he will be a player to watch come training camp. He likely will be one of the better defencemen in Laval this season, and it wouldn’t shock me if he gets a long look on the left side of the Canadiens defence. He may not be ready yet - he’s one of the older players in development camp - but I see an NHL player there.

  • With everyone else starring it’s easy to forget about Nick Suzuki, then he does something like this.
  • I remembered why I liked Jordan Harris so much at last year’s development camp. He’s a great skater and loves to jump into the play (admittedly a lot easier to do when the game is four-on-four and three-on-three).

Development camp continues on Thursday with morning on-ice drills and a scrimmage at 4:00 p.m. The final scrimmage is Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. All scrimmages are open to the public, and should be streamed on RDS.ca.