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Poehling hopes to build off impressive debut with Canadiens

Forward, No. 25 pick in 2017 NHL Draft, had hat trick, shootout goal in Montreal debut

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Ryan Poehling is still riding high from his storybook debut with the Montreal Canadiens.

Montreal's first-round pick (No. 25) in the 2017 NHL Draft, Poehling scored a hat trick and the deciding shootout goal in the Canadiens' season finale, a 6-5 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 6.

"It just feels unreal, like literally unimaginable," Poehling said at Canadiens development camp in June. "I think I'll appreciate it way more in 5, 10 years, when you're like, 'I can't believe I really did that.' So, it's still a shock for me."

Poehling (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), who has added 40 pounds since his first development camp two years ago, was named MVP and best forward at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. He had eight points (five goals, three assists) in six games for the United States, which finsihed second to Finland.

The 20-year-old native of Lakeville, Minnesota, had 31 points (eight goals, 23 assists) in 36 games in his junior season with St. Cloud State before signing a three-year, entry-level contract with Montreal on March 31.

"The League itself is becoming a younger league," Poehling said. "I mean there's players that are so young getting many opportunities, and it's what you make of that opportunity. Last year was obviously a good start, showing them what I could at the end of the year. And now hopefully I can just build on that heading into the next season."

Canadiens director of player development Rob Ramage watched Poehling's first game on television in London, Ontario.

"I sat in that hotel room by myself just like a little kid again, kind of bouncing up and down," Ramage said. "I mean I was off the bed more than I was on it."

Video: TOR@MTL: Poehling nets hatty, SO winner in NHL debut

However, he tempered expectations about Poehling's potential offensive production. 

"It's still kind of an unknown," Ramage said. "I mean, regular season in college, his numbers were just OK. He gets to Vancouver and Victoria (in the WJC), and wow, really shows his stuff, and then obviously with the debut here.

"So, the one thing I'll say is that when he plays with better players, his game does elevate. You've seen that, you know, obviously at the World Juniors, and then with Montreal. So that's the exciting part, he can play with these guys."

A center, Poehling said he is willing to take on whatever role is necessary to earn a spot with the Canadiens this fall.

"The main goal for me is just winning," Poehling said. "That's a characteristic that some people have, and I think I have it. So, for me, I don't really worry about where I'll be playing, more so what I'll be doing. If they put me in a spot where they want me to be a goal-scorer, a passer and have points, then I'll do that. But if they want me to be a guy who is going to shut the [defensive] zone down and give a little bit of offense, I'll do that as well. I think that's where I'm more flexible in that sense, where I can do both, so it helps my case out a lot."

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