It wasn’t so long ago that Ryan Poehling was the star prospect for the Montreal Canadiens. On this day two years ago, after a strong junior season at St. Cloud State, Poehling burst onto the scene in his NHL debut, scoring three goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played just 11:22 that night, but expectations and excitement exploded, with many believing he would never leave the Canadiens lineup again.
After all, this was the 25th overall pick from 2017 and Poehling had the size and skill necessary to succeed at the NHL level. Now, two years later, Poehling has been passed on the prospect depth chart by several exciting Canadiens forwards and spent all of 2020-21 in the minor leagues. His AHL season is ending early, as the team announced he suffered a wrist injury that will require surgery.
Now 22, Poehling was dominant for the Laval Rocket this year. He scored 11 goals and 25 points in 28 games, leading the team in both categories. In his last game, which occurred on April 24, he had three assists and was the game’s first star.
Following the injury, Poehling now enters an uncertain offseason. He will be a restricted free agent for the first time but is not eligible for arbitration. His waiver-exempt status will not expire next year, meaning he could be on the way down the minor leagues once again. Luckily, because of his age when he made that 2019 debut, he is still exempt from the expansion draft and will not require protection. He’ll need a new contract through and with just five points in 28 career NHL games, doesn’t have much leverage to ask for a raise.