MONTREAL - Ryan Poehling and Cayden Primeau are currently weathering a whirlwind.
Mere hours after their college seasons respectively came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Hockey Tournament, the two Habs prospects - speaking to reporters via conference call on Monday - said goodbye to their teammates and signed three-year entry-level contracts with the Canadiens over the weekend to begin their lives in the pro's.
"It's bittersweet. I had great times in Northeastern [University], but I'm excited for the future," said Primeau, who posted a 25-10-1 record, 2.09 goals-against average, .933 save percentage and four shutouts with the Huskies this season. "I feel like I'm ready for that next step and next jump. I'm just excited to get into Laval and take everything in that I can."
Primeau and Northeastern were eliminated by Cornell.
For their part, Poehling and the "other" Huskies, of the St. Cloud State variety, fell to American International College. The centerman admits that things changed rapidly following his team's loss, but affirms he's ready for what was to come.
"It all happened so quickly, which was hard for me. But at some point, you just have that feeling that you're ready. And I think that's what I had. I didn't think about it as much as I would have liked to during the actual season; it all kind of hit me at one point," shared Poehling, who registered eight goals and 31 points and was handed First-Team All-NCHC honors in 2018-19. "And I didn't think the way we went out would be the way we would go out, so I thought I'd have a little more time to ponder the question. But for myself, it was just a matter of me being ready for the next step. I'm excited and looking forward to spending the remainder of the season in Montreal."
Montreal is indeed where Poehling, the Habs' first-round pick (25th overall) in 2017, will take the next steps in his hockey career, as he's expected to join the Canadiens on Tuesday and spend the rest of the season with them.
With the Habs in crunch mode as they battle for one of the two Wild Card spots up for grabs in the East, Poehling feels it's the perfect time to come in and take his education to the next level.
"It's going to help for me. It's always better to get in there earlier and especially at a time right now when they're making a playoff push," explained Poehling, who was named Best Forward and Tournament MVP at the 2019 World Juniors. "Just learning from those guys and what to do in those hard situations, I think it'll help me just learn for, hopefully, the seasons to come. When that time does come for me to be in that spot, I can learn from this situation for sure."
While Poehling will be taking classes with the big club, Primeau - the Hockey East Goaltender of the Year for 2017-18 - will be joining the Habs' minor-league affiliate, the AHL's Laval Rocket. And though he may not get to see any game action with them this season, the goaltending hopeful knows he will come away a better player for the experience.
"Just go in there and just trying to take everything in," Primeau, the Canadiens' seventh-round pick (199th overall) in 2018, said when asked about the prospect of not playing any Rocket games this spring. "I'm going to try to be a sponge and absorb anything that I can get on the ice and off the ice. I'm going to try to take it with me heading into the summer. I'm just excited to get there and to see what the pro game is all about and just be able to practice and experience that level."
Earlier in the day, general manager Marc Bergevin addressed the media and said that while Poehling wouldn't play on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, there is a chance he might dress in one of the Habs' two remaining regular season games.
That said, Poehling isn't picky either way.
"Honestly, I don't expect anything. I'm just excited to go there, start from the bottom and work for what I get. So my plans are just to go there, keep my head down, work hard, and see what happens. I'm going to do whatever the coach and the team need me to do and help them, when or even if that's playing or not playing," he concluded. "So I'm excited to just get there and see how that all pans out for myself."