St. Cloud, MN – The St. Cloud State University hockey season came to an abrupt end in the NCAA West Regional Tournament on Friday, March 29 in Fargo, ND and along with that saw two immediate signings with NHL teams. Senior Patrick Newell and Junior Ryan Poehling both signed Entry Level Contracts but were at different stages of their hockey career. Newell signed a two-year ELC with the New York Rangers effective the 2019-20 season while Poehling opted to leave the Huskies a year early to sign a contract with the Montreal Canadiens.
Newell, 23, an undrafted free agent, is a native of Thousand Oaks, CA and completed his eligibility at St. Cloud State after an outstanding four-year career with the Huskies. A scorer from year one, Newell racked up 120 points in 145 career games including 21 goals and 26 assists for 47 points his senior year. Also, impressive was the fact that he never completed a season in the minus in plus/minus. Always associated with champions, Newell was a member of the USHL Clark Cup Champion, BCHL Champion, NCHC Frozen Faceoff Champion and twice a member of the NCHC Penrose Cup Champions. His senior season earned him a number of honors including NCHC Forward of the Year, NCHC Sportsmanship Award, First Team All-NCHC and being named a top-ten finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
As NHL Entry Level Contracts are age-based, Newell was signed to a two-year deal with the Rangers with a $832,500 base salary and $92,500 signing bonus. However. all ELC’s are two-way contracts with the players earnings dependent on which league he is assigned to. The maximum AHL salary is $70,000. Typically, collegiate players finishing their eligibility will enter into an Amateur Tryout (ATO) which allows a few games at the professional level for teams to provide additional depth for a playoff run or to evaluate players further. In this case, it appears Newell may skate with the Rangers AHL club, the Hartford Wolf Pack for the balance of the AHL season.
Poehling, 20, was a completely different situation. The Lakeville, MN native was a first-round (25th overall) pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Poehling completed his high school eligibility early joining the Huskies as a 17 year-old and the youngest player in college hockey at the time. He opted to sign with the Canadiens early forgoing his senior season at an age many players begin their collegiate career. Poehling finished his career at St. Cloud State with 29 goals, 46 assists and 75 points in 107 games including 8-23-31 in 35 games in 2018-19. He had quite a year winning a Silver Medal in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships while being name to the tournament All-Star Team and recognized as tournament MVP and Best Forward.
Due to his age, Poehling was signed to a standard three-year Entry Level Contract (ELC) with a $832,000 base salary and $92,500 signing bonus. In Poehling’s case, he was signed for the 2018-19 season and it appears the Canadiens would like to get him on their roster for this season. However, the Canadiens are on the outside looking in right now as far as the playoffs and only have three games left on the regular season schedule. Poehling would have to play in 10 games this season to have it count as a year of experience and thus burn a year off his ELC. There are many reasons both pro and con to “burning” a year that can work to both the benefit or detriment of the player. Another consideration is the ability of Montreal to protect him in the expansion draft which will occur with the new Seattle franchise.
Upon signing Poehling told me “It was a hard day for me. Exciting, but hard. St. Cloud gave me everything I have. It treated me so well.” In departing the Huskies, Poehling loses the opportunity to skate one final season with older brothers Nick and Jack Poehling who will be seniors on the SCSU squad in 2019-20.
Poehling told canadiens,com “Honestly, I don’t expect anything. I’m just excited to go there, start from the bottom and work for what I get. So my plans are just to go there, keep my head down, work hard, and see what happens. I’m going to do whatever the coach and the team need me to do and help them, when or even if that’s playing or not playing,” he concluded. “So I’m excited to just get there and see how that all pans out for myself.”
In the departing Newell and Poehling, the Huskies lose two very high quality players and individuals as they look forward to re-stocking the team for the 2019-20 season. Obviously, they will both be extremely difficult to replace.