Player: Ryan Poehling
Born: Jan. 3, 1999 (24 years old)
Weight: 196 pounds
Hometown: Lakeville, Minnesota, United States
Draft: First round, 25th overall 2017 - Montreal Canadiens
2022-23 Statistics: 53 games played, seven goals, seven assists, 14 points, eight PIM
Contract Status: Signed a two-year, $1.5 million extension on Aug. 27, 2021; will be a restricted free agent on July 1, 2023
Fun fact: Poehling’s uncle, Stan Palmer, was also drafted by Montreal Canadiens (177th overall in the 1977 NHL Draft).
Hidden Stat: Second fewest penalty minutes accrued among forwards per 60 minutes - 0.74 (min. 150 minutes played)
History: N/A 2021-22 NHL grade; traded to Pittsburgh Penguins from Montreal Canadiens in July 2022. >> PensBurgh Top 25 Under 25 (2023): #4 - Ryan Poehling
November was far and away Poehling’s best month during the 2022-23 campaign. He never scored more than one goal in any other month during the season. Injury played an unfortunate role during the season, but at this point, Poehling’s ceiling may be in his current role as a depth forward.
Story of the Season
Traded to the Penguins from the Montreal Canadiens on July 16, 2022, Poehling, 23 at the time, looked to be something of a reclamation project. Perhaps a change of scenery would do the young forward some good as the “throw-in” piece of the Jeff Petry-Mike Matheson swap.
He started the season in the bottom six, where he would largely remain, and notched his first goal as a Penguin on Oct. 20, 2022, against the Los Angeles Kings.
Into November, Poehling scored two goals against the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 25.
Before Christmas, he was sidelined with an upper-body injury. From Dec. 5 and into the new year, Poehling battled this ailment on and off, playing in a game against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 10. After that, this upper-body injury stayed with the young forward, and Poehling would even see a stint on injured reserve, being activated off IR on Jan. 22, 2023.
By the middle of February, injury reared its head again, and Poehling once again was dealing with an upper-body ailment, even suffering at least one reported setback in practice on March 2. He was placed on long-term injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 14 on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
Poehling was on track to be activated off long-term injured reserve and return to the lineup by March 16.
Now healthy for the home stretch, the Minnesotan became an increasingly reliable player for Mike Sullivan. Whatever was bothering him looked to have fully healed. After all of his rehab work, Poehling would score two more goals, one against the Washington Capitals on March 25, and one against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 2, 2023.
Poehling played in 53 out of a possible 82 games. Injuries hampered his progress at various turns, and outside a favorable stretch in November and toward the end of the season, he didn’t establish a true sense of consistency, which surely irritated the first-year Penguin forward who wanted to make more of a positive impression on his new team.
Regular season 5v5 advanced stats
Data via Natural Stat Trick. The ranking is out of 15 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.
Corsi For%: 49.68
Goals For%: 44.12
Scoring Chance %: 48.75
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 51.11
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 6.20
On-ice save%: 92.46
Goals/60: 0.5 (12th)
Assist/60: 0.74 (10th)
Points/60: 1.24 (11th)
The xGF percentage is encouraging, but the actual results differ from expectations. He’s not a possession black hole. We knew going into the season Poehling wasn’t going to light up the scoresheet based on his Montreal days, and that proved to be the case throughout the season.
Poehling’s deployment was alongside fellow depth players. He played with the likes of Josh Archibald and Teddy Blueger and later in the season, saw some action with newly-acquired Mikael Granlund as well as Danton Heinen.
Again, as expected, Poehling saw the majority of work at even strength and the penalty kill.
The finishing went away as the season went on.
Nice change of scenery and improvements from his Montreal days. WAR percentile rank saw a nice hike. That was likely to happen coming over from a weaker Montreal team.
Poehling’s defensive game and offensive touch saw noticeable increases, but again, he failed to get the puck in the back of the net.
Of note are his penalty kill and penalties percentages. He doesn’t take a lot of penalties while proving to be an effective player while shorthanded.
Could some of these numbers rebound with better teammates flanking him?
Not much playmaking, but good at zone entries and exits.
Poehlng was never asked to play above his means during 2022-23. At most, he saw an elevated role on the third line while Jeff Carter continued to struggle.
The 24-year-old found stability on the fourth line and with the penalty kill before injuries took their toll.
Let’s be clear: While a former first-round pick, Poehling will likely never live up to the true hype of his first-round billing. That is not a negative toward the player, either. He is living the dream as an entrenched NHL bottom-sixer.
Poehling has several things working for him heading into next season. Firstly, his age. At 24, he can help the Penguins get younger as they look to possibly shed the salaries of elder statesmen and no longer hold the title of the NHL’s oldest team.
Secondly, Poehling has shown some flashes of competency at both ends of the ice. He’s a responsible defensive player, can skate with some burst, and may pot the odd goal here and there.
The Penguins have something working for them as well: financial flexibility. As a restricted free agent coming off a $750,000 cap hit with no real leverage, Poehling will not be commanding much from his current team or on the open market. Cheap contracts of players who are not complete black holes will benefit the Penguins.
If Jeff Carter is demoted to the fourth line or even out of the Penguins’ organization entirely, Poehling could see himself vying for a role as the team’s third-line center.
How would you grade Ryan Poehling’s 2022-23 season?