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2017 NHL Draft Profile: Ryan Poehling is an Investment in San Jose’s Future at Center

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The youngest player in the NCAA should be on San Jose’s radar

Ryan Poehling (pay’-ling, you’re welcome) offers size, vision, and leadership to any NHL team willing to wait a year or three for him to add a few pounds. Lauded by scouts as a hard-working, responsible two-way power forward with an offensive touch, Poehling has climbed up NHL draft rankings over the course of a freshman year at St. Cloud marked by steady improvement.

Projected as an eventual top-six center, Poehling is expected to mature into a two-way forward, already skilled at using his size to battle for pucks in corners and creases. A smart player, gifted at finding space in the opponents’ zone and anticipating plays in his own, Poehling is a strong skater who is hard to knock off the puck, and competes and communicates effectively on the ice. Poehling is 18, however, and will likely need a few years to add muscle to his frame and mature enough emotionally to play at the NHL level.

photo: Bradley K. Olson

After leading Lakeville North High School with 62 points as a junior, Poehling sped through his last year of high school studies in the summer so that he could play for St. Cloud state early with his older twin brothers, Jack and Nick. In fact, the three brothers committed to the Huskies on the same day.

An underage freshman in his first year in the NCAA, Poehling overcame a rough start to impress during the second half of the season, ending the season with 13 points in 35 games. Huskies head coach Bob Moztko never doubted that he’d adapt to the rigors of college hockey however, saying the following in a November interview: “You can see there’s going to be a day the lid comes off ... he will settle into becoming an impact player at the collegiate level.”

Poehling’s name first started popping up on scouts’ radars after impressing at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament last summer, where he led the tournament in goals (4), including a hat trick against the eventual champion Czech Republic team. He continued to impress at the 2016 USA Hockey All-American Prospect game in Philadelphia, and played a part in the USA’s gold medal finish at the IIHF 2017 U18 Championship in Slovakia (3G, 2A).

Nobody’s perfect, however, and it’s no secret that this year’s draft is shallower than the most recent few. Poehling has a strong wrist shot, but needs to be encouraged to use it more, usually preferring to pass to an open teammate and use his hockey smarts to find open space for a deflection or tip in. If he can develop his game to be more of an offensive threat himself in more creative ways, rather than relying on his linemates to finish scoring opportunities, Poehling can develop into a player capable of filling center positions vacated by players aging out of the league over the next few years. I’ve heard him compared favorably to players like Ryan Johansen or Patrik Berglund.

There is an argument to be made for drafting for positional need, but more and more teams lately seem to be picking the best player available, and the Sharks would be making a smart investment in the not too distant future if Poehling is still on the board.

The Basics

Name: Ryan Poehling Position: Center Nationality: United States Shoots: Left DOB: January 03, 1999 Height: 6’3” Weight: 185 Hometown: Lakeville, MN 2016-17: St. Cloud State (NCHC) 2015-16: Lincoln (USHL) 2014-15: Lakeville North High School (MN)

Rankings

THW Consensus: 14th ISS Hockey: 19th Future Considerations: 20th NHL CSS: 13th (NA)

Strengths:

  • Strong skater
  • On ice communication
  • Vision
  • Great wrist shot

Areas of improvement

  • Add muscle mass
  • Needs to use that wrist shot

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