The Martin Reway And Ryan Poehling Cases

RookieCamp

Here we are folks, hockey season is just around the corner as we have turned the page on the calendar to read September. It’s been a long summer of wait since the Montreal Canadiens acquired Jonathan Drouin and signed unrestricted free agent and shot blocking expert Karl Alzner, a summer of anticipation to say the least. Also exciting is the anticipation of having the farm team in their backyard, with the Laval Rockets scheduled to make their debuts at the Place Bell in Laval.

The Canadiens have release the list of 23 players scheduled to attend their Rookie Camp and Rookie Tournament from September 7-13 and we know what this means: Hockey is back in Montreal! And for one prospect, this camp will mean so much more than for anyone else…

MARTIN REWAY

A full year, a very long year, after having to sit an entire season due to a life and career threatening virus to his heart, the 22 year-old prospect will be sporting #84 at camp during the tournament and it’s been a long time coming. No one is more excited than Martin Reway himself, as we can attest by his tweet from this past May.

Prior to his illness, the young Slovak was considered one of the Canadiens’ top prospects so this camp will go a long way in determining how much he was affected by his setback and the long layoff. The skills will undeniably still be there, and likely his biggest weapon, which is his speed. But going up against the team’s best young player will give him, and the organization, a better gauge to figure out where he stands today.

It might be too early to put him back on the list of the team’s top prospects, but it shouldn’t take too long to see if he suffered any lag in relation to where he was prior to his virus. One thing we know for sure is that all eyes will be on him.

RYAN POEHLING

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Ryan Poehling

One name fans won’t see on the Rookie Camp list is the team’s first round pick from the last Draft. After opening the eyes of the hockey world during the last World Junior Summer Challenge when Ryan Poehling finished the tournament with seven points in five games. The reason for it has everything to do with the fact that he is a NCAA player and rules are clear when it comes to US Colleges’ players:

NCAA prospects or current players may attend NHL summer development camps, or prospect camps, but must pay their own way (transportation, lodging, food, etc.) and current players may not miss class to do so.

There is an opportunity, similar to the 48-hour rule (see above), to have an NHL team pay a portion of a player’s stay at development camp on a one-time-per-team basis. The 48-hour period begins when you arrive at the team’s facility and ends exactly 48 hours later. While in attendance the team can supply you with expenses that include travel, hotel, food, equipment, and all costs associated with practice and off-ice training. A player would have to cover all costs after that 48-hour period, including return transportation home. (Source)

However, something tells me that Poehling is a name that Habs’ fans will hear about for many years to come. At the very least, fans can take comfort in the fact that he is getting accustomed to wearing the logo, as a member of the St. Cloud State Huskies.

Here is the Rookie Camp / Tournament Schedule:

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Does Size Matter?

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No matter how often this question is being asked, and whom it is asked to, you always find two totally different answers to it. Wives and girlfriends are split on the topic, and so are Habs’ fans, who have had to suffer through years of “shortage” and nicknames like Smurfs for their beloved team.

For a while, it seemed like team GM Marc Bergevin was trying to change things in that aspect, injecting some much needed size and toughness to his line-up but 2016 seems to be a step back into a direction that few fans want to see their favourite team return to. While it’s hard to blame the GM for the fact that Zack Kassian refused to take his career seriously, we saw bigger guys like 6-foot 6-inches Jarred Tinordi traded for 6-foot Victor Bartley. The deadline also saw 6-foot 2-inches Dale Weise, 6-foot 1-inch Tomas Fleischmann and 214 pounds Devante Smith-Pelly find their way out of Montreal, making more room for 6-foot Phillip Danault, 5-foot 8-inches Paul Byron and long-shot 6-foot 2-inches Stefan Matteau.

Recent signings have done nothing to address the size issue for the Canadiens as talented but undersized Artturi Lehkonen (174 pounds) and 5-foot 8-inches Martin Reway signed their entry-level contract in hope to make the big club next season. Add the rumour that 6-foot 2-inches Lars Eller has been rumoured for some time to be available on the trade market, it seems like this team is getting much smaller instead of addressing their size issue. Good thing that prospect Mike McCarron (6-foot 5-inches) is still part of the organization!

Playoffs’ grind

Looking at the NHL Playoffs, particularly in the Western Conference, I’m not so sure that a smaller team like Montreal could have survived the grind of playoffs’ hockey and its physical play. Just look at the two finalists in that conference, San Jose and St. Louis, two big and nasty teams who not only play the body, but use their size and strength to keep puck control and grind the opposition in the offensive zone. As much heart as Brendan Gallagher can have, he is no match in a one-on-one battle with the Joe Thornton and David Backes of this world.

Out of curiosity, let’s have a look at the line-ups between our beloved Canadiens and those two hot playoffs’ teams:
Teams

Bergevin has his work cut-out for him this summer in what could very well be a deciding off-season for him and his management team. He must turn last year around and prove to everyone, his supporters included, that the monumental collapse of 2015-2016 was bad luck and not a step backwards from years past.

In spite of the fact that Alex Galchenyuk Has Gained in Maturity, the Canadiens desperately need more goals’ scoring but at the same time, they must revert back to getting some much needed grit and size. There is nothing wrong with having a couple of smaller players, but the rest of the team should be able to compete against bigger and meaner clubs in order to succeed, particularly in the playoffs.