Don’t Forget Poganski

(Photo Credit: David Samson / The Forum)

Another St. Louis Blues prospect that all fans should know about: Austin Poganski

You might remember…

March 25th, 2018. Defenseman, Mitch Reinke, and centerman, Nolan Stevens were signed to two-year entry-level contracts with the St. Louis Blues. I’ve written pieces on both players and you can read them here: “Who is Mitch Reinke?” & “Meet Nolan Stevens”. Now, there was a third player to be signed that day, also to a two-year entry-level deal. Let’s talk about forward, Austin Poganski.

He’s a right-handed shot from the right wing. A 22-year-old, St. Cloud, Minnesota native. Austin stands 6’1″, & weighs 198 lbs. At the age of 18, the St. Louis Blues drafted Poganski 110th overall in the 4th round of the 2014 NHL Draft.

I’d like to start by highlighting that Austin had quite the high school hockey career.

  • 25GP, 22G, 13A, 35P (St. Cloud Cathedral)
  • 25GP, 22G, 37A, 49P (St. Cloud Cathedral)
  • 19GP, 8G, 12A, 20P (Great Plains)
  • 23GP, 25G, 22A, 47P (St. Cloud Cathedral)

Poganski was especially impressive while competing for the US National Team (under 17) in 2012-13, posting 7 goals in 11 games. Then he was even better when playing for Team USA (under 17). Austin scored 6 goals in 6 games. I’ll be sharing his awards with you later in this article.

Moving On…

In 162 games played at the NCAA level, Poganski has scored 37 goals and he’s registered 47 assists for 84 points total. Since being signed, Austin has put up 1 goal and 1 assist in 4 games for the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. He’s a natural power forward, and a really smart north-south player.

“Poganski is a big, strong forward with some offensive skills and stick handling ability. He enjoys battling for pucks in tight areas and is strong on the cycle. Frequently matched against the opposition’s top lines playing for North Dakota, that is likely to be his role at the pro game. He has worked on increasing his skating speed and the improvement has been noticeable.” – HockeysFuture.com

A good read for you is one from Todd Panula at Bleedin’ Blue.

Todd brings to you the difference between the contracts of Mitch Reinke and Nolan Stevens to that of Austin Poganski. Austin actually elected to go to San Antonio on an amateur tryout. His contract will not begin until 2018-19 while both Reinke and Stevens’ contracts began immediately after signing on the dotted line. If you’re wanting to know more about that, click the link above.

After you’ve read Todd’s article, you get an idea of how mature this kid is. He’s in it for the long haul, and he’s not in any hurry to rush himself into something he isn’t ready for. He’s a realist. Austin wants to develop properly. He’s taken into consideration that he’s had to adjust at all levels, and he wants to make those adjustments before he takes the next step. It’s admirable.

I’ll be taking a look at Austin’s College career and making some observations to give you an idea of what kind of player he is. Before we get into that, I’d like to highlight one season with the Tri-City Storm just before beginning his college career.

In 2013-14, Austin competed in a total of 55 games for Tri-City. He scored 19 goals and tallied 12 assists for a total of 31 points. He was able to average 0.56 points per game. Something that really jumps out at me here is that he had a (-37) rating. I’ll inform you now that this is one thing we never see again. He ends up very adequate and is known for his defensive responsibility.

Well-Disciplined

Austin logged 98 penalty minutes throughout his NCAA career with the University of North Dakota. That’s an average of 0.6 penalty minutes per game. I’d like to point out that his Junior year, he took the most penalties. Poganski then (2016-17) had an average of roughly 1.1 penalty minutes per game. His Freshman (2014-15), Sophomore (2015-16), and Senior (2017-18) campaigns average out to roughly 0.4 penalty minutes per game. He made improvements from year 3 (2016-17) to year 4 (2017-18) when he cut his (penalty minutes per game) in half.

What’s my point? Austin Poganksi, at the NCAA level, has never averaged more than just over half a minor of box time per game. That means he goes a game or two without taking a penalty here and there. Everyone has a bad game where they take a few, and that’s simply all we’re seeing here. So, for the most part. He’s a responsible, well-disciplined player.

Good Habits

After four seasons with the Fighting Hawks, Poganski finished up with an NCAA career (+33) rating. Freshman and Sophomore year, he posted a (+11) & (+10). You can see that as Alternate Captain in his Junior year, and Captain in his Senior year, that he was given much more defensive responsibility, as he posted (+6) twice. He’s a sound two-way player with good defensive habits. He’s proven that.

Offensive Production

First, take a look at the stats.

Hopefully I don’t confuse you with my observations.

(EliteProspects.com)

Poganski averaged just 0.36 points per game as a Freshman but improved to 0.56 points per game as a Sophomore. He continued on to an even better 0.62 points per game as a Junior. His Senior campaign had a slight drop in production, averaging 0.5 points per game, but as Captain, he had much more responsibility.

Austin reached double-digits in assists 3 times (Freshman, Junior, and Sophomore seasons). His Senior year, he was one assist shy of repeating (9). Regardless, when we average his assists per game at the NCAA level, he had roughly 11.75 assists per season. That’s in an average of 40.5 games per year. This means he averaged 0.29 assists per game in his Sophomore, Junior, and Senior seasons.

He got off to a slow start in the goal-scoring department. His Freshman year, he scored just 4 goals, but he hadn’t received prime opportunity yet. The following three seasons, he averaged 11 goals per year. This means that he averaged 0.26 goals per game in his Sophomore, Junior, and Senior seasons.

Here are Poganski’s Awards

  • U17 WHC Bronze Medal (2012-13)
  • World Junior A Challenge Gold Medal (2013-14)
  • NCAA (NCHC) Reg. Season Champion (Penrose Cup) (2014-15)
  • NCAA (Championship) Winner (2015-16)
  • NCAA (NCHC) Reg. Season Champion (Penrose Cup (2015-16)
  • NCAA Lowes Senior Class All-Americans 2nd Team (2017-18)

Conclusion

You need players that can stay out of the box while matching up against the other teams most talented forwards and defenders. You need consistent work ethic and good discipline. Players like Austin Poganski are special because while they’re out there working their tails off, they’re not always rewarded with points on the score board, but they don’t mind because they understand the game for what it really is. Austin seems like a player that puts it all on the line for his team. He brings a responsible game first and foremost, but he brings a strong game too. On top of all of that, he can handle the puck well, is a great skater, and surely has the ability to create offense. I am looking forward to watching this smart kid develop at the pace he is comfortable developing at. I like that he is pacing himself, and that he is ready to learn and put work in before jumping the gun. He’s in no hurry, but he’s committed to solidifying his playing style and molding his professional approach. It’s a great sign.

Thanks for reading, Blues fans. To finish this one off, here’s some eye candy for you. Austin Poganski with a heroic, overtime penalty shot game winner. The following video was published by UND Insider on February 19th, 2016. Enjoy!

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