Poehling eager to show Flyers he has what it takes

Ryan Poehling

      VOORHEES, N.J. – If he hadn’t been a first-round draft pick, maybe expectations for Ryan Poehling wouldn’t have been so high.

      The 24-year-old center, who signed a one-year, $1.4-million free-agent contract with the Flyers on Saturday, was selected 25th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens.

      He’s played in parts of two seasons with the Habs and last season with Pittsburgh but never more than 57 games in any one campaign. Some of that had to do with injury but the fact is he really hasn’t had a chance to crack the lineup for a regular position.

      During a media Zoom call on Wednesday, Poehling said the opportunity to compete for a steady role played a part in joining the Flyers.

      “I think that’s a big reason,” Poehling said. “I talked to the coaching staff, the organization and a few players I know on that team. They said they were going through a rebuild.

      “I’ve always wanted to be a part of something special, be a big part of something that starts from the ground up. I think this is an opportunity to do just that.”

      Another incentive for joining the Flyers? He has a good friendship with Philly’s up-and-coming star Noah Cates.

           “Growing up I played hockey with Noah,” Poehling said. “We played triple-A hockey together and a few USA hockey events. We were kind of rivals in college. I played for St. Cloud, he played for University of Minnesota-Duluth. It will be really fun to get back playing with him.”

      The Flyers’ youth movement seems like a good fit for Poehling, a native of Lakeville, Minnesota.

      “I think I just want to prove myself,” he said. “I’m excited for the challenge. For me, it’s just doing what I do best. Competing hard and playing hard.”

      As for the prospect of playing for coach John Tortorella, Poehling looks forward to the challenge.

      “Yeah, one hundred percent,” he said. “At Pittsburgh, we played fast, we played hard. I think that’s a good style that fits my game. I love getting the puck deep and putting pressure on the other team; use my speed to kind of create offense. Those two things are going to be key to my success next year.

      “I’m definitely excited for it (playing for Tortorella). I’ve heard he’s hard but he’s fair. That’s all you ask for from a coach. At the end of the day, it’s a sport and we’re paid to do our job. You have to do your job and compete. I think it makes it just that much more fun.”

      Poehling has seen how quickly Cates has developed under Tortorella. That’s cause for optimism.

     “Noah is one of the nicest kids I know,” Poehling said. “When you meet guys like that, you just wish him the best. I wasn’t surprised by that. He has a hell of work ethic. It’s exciting to watch and go to battle with him.”

      As for playing his old team, the Penguins, in the Battle of Pennsylvania a couple times a year, Poehling can’t wait.

      “It will be fun,” he said. “The games always have a lot of energy. The fans are awesome too. I’m on the other side now and I hope we can get it done against them.”

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About Wayne Fish 2426 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.