The Philadelphia Flyers have signed center Ryan Poehling to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million, according to Jeff Marek of SportsNet. The 24-year-old center has played 138 career games for the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Poehling Struggles to Find Footing
Montreal selected Poehling with the 25th-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, two picks ahead of Philadelphia center Morgan Frost and 15 picks behind winger Owen Tippett. Poehling struggled to find his footing at the professional level while splitting time between the Canadiens and the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League (AHL). The Habs sent him to Pittsburgh as a secondary piece in the deal that included veteran defenseman Jeff Petry in 2022.
Poehling scored seven goals and added seven assists in 53 games for the Penguins in 2022-23. He averaged just 11:46 of ice time for Mike Sullivan’s club in a disappointing season in which they failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. His possession metrics did improve, however. He posted a 53.13% share of expected goals (xGF%), which was significantly higher than his career numbers in Montreal.
He averaged 2:25 of ice time on the penalty kill for Pittsburgh last season, and he scored two shorthanded goals. The Flyers benefitted from an aggressive approach on the penalty kill in their first season under Brad Shaw in 2022-23. They finished tied for fourth in the NHL with 11 shorthanded goals. Players with less shorthanded experience, especially Travis Konecny, developed a good rhythm with the “power kill” style that Shaw encouraged.
Fit With Flyers
The rebuilding Flyers have undergone major changes during the short tenure of general manager (GM) Danny Briere and President of Hockey Operations Keith Jones. The departure of veterans Ivan Provorov, Kevin Hayes, and James van Riemsdyk and an impending trade of Tony DeAngelo will leave roster spots open and pave the way for younger, unproven players to become full-time NHLers.
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As a former first-round draft pick, Poehling fits the mold as the type of reclamation project with a high upside that the Flyers can use. Tippett broke out in 2022-23 under head coach John Tortorella after the Flyers acquired him as part of the trade that sent Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers in March 2022. He scored 27 goals in 77 games with the opportunity to play top-six minutes and on the first power-play unit.
Frost also benefitted from similar opportunities toward the end of the season after a very inconsistent start to his NHL career following his debut in November 2019. A wide-open opportunity to flourish on a team with no expectations to compete for a playoff spot in 2023-24 could be the change of scenery Poehling needs to truly kickstart his NHL career.
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The Flyers have also stressed the need to add depth down the middle. Sean Couturier missed the entire 2022-23 season and played just 29 games in 2021-22 because of a serious back injury. It’s optimistic to expect him to be fully healthy in 2023-24. Frost and second-year forward Noah Cates will continue their development at center, and Tanner Laczynski and Elliot Desnoyers will compete for roster spots during training camp. Veteran Scott Laughton can play down the middle or on the wing. Poehling adds another body to a mix of young players in healthy competition for Philadelphia.
All advanced stats apply to 5-on-5 play, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (unless otherwise noted).