Who doesn't remember Ryan Poehling
's debut with the Montreal Canadiens? The Canadiens' first-round pick in 2017 had scored a hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the final game of the season in addition to scoring the winning goal in shootout.
However, what followed was much more difficult for Poehling. Obviously, expectations had become excessive following such a performance to conclude the 2019 season. Then, the American suffered a concussion the following fall during training camp. As a result, he was limited to one goal and one assist in 27 games during the 2019-2020 season with the Canadiens and thirteen points with the Rocket in 36 games.
This past winter, Poehling regained his confidence with the Rocket when the eyes were no longer on him. In 28 games, he recorded 25 points, including 11 goals. That's a much improved performance for the American college player.
"Confidence is key for me and I took a big step in the right direction last winter," said the 22-year-old prospect. "When you play under (former Rocket head coach) Joël Bouchard, you have to play the right way or you won't get playing time."
Of course, with the emergence of Suzuki, Caufield and Evans, comparisons can easily be made, but the main man doesn't want to pay too much attention to that sort of thing.
"Everyone has to follow their own path, even though it can be frustrating to compare it to others," he said. "That's what I've come to understand, so I've been working to continue on mine. I want to get to the end and end up where I need to be."
His head coach also has good words for him. Dominique Ducharme is thrilled with his fitness and made a point of saying so while talking about his maturity level.
"He is in good shape," he noted. "You can see it in the way he moves, which is important. He has also matured physically. You can see it in the details of his game, in drills, in one-on-one situations with or without the puck, where he's more efficient, stronger on the puck and better at protection."
Ducharme made no secret of the fact that there are positions available at center on his roster. Poehling will have to fight against Jake Evans
, Cedric Paquette
and Mathieu Perreault
if he wants to stay in Montreal. The young American must seize this opportunity!
And according to Mathias Brunet, it is clear that Poehling is currently in the Canadiens' top 12. He should therefore start the season in Montreal, unless he performs poorly during training camp.
The Habs will play two warm-up games on Saturday and Monday against the Toronto Leafs. Poehling will have to seize the opportunity and make a good first impression for the Canadiens decision makers!