2014 NHL Draft Prospect: Austin Poganski

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The Player

Austin Poganski

Forward

Tri-City Storm(USHL)

2013-2014 stats: 55 games 19 goals 12 assists 31 points 57 PIMs

Height: 6'1.25" Weight: 198 lbs.

Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 100th among NA skaters

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Poganski is a big, physical power forward that isn't afraid to go into dirty areas to score goals.

Hockey sense is a big question mark though. He tends to rely more on his brute strength to make plays rather than thinking a step ahead of the competition. That lack of awareness really manifested itself on the defensive end of the ice as well. +/- can be an iffy stat to use, but Poganski was a -27 last year, which was ten points worse than the next lowest on his team, and sixth worst in the entire league.

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

After a strong performance at the 2013 World U17 Challenge, and dominating the Minnesota high school ranks as an 11th grader, Poganski came into this season looking like he had the potential to go as high as the first round of the draft. But he struggled with the transition to the better level of competition in the USHL and his stock slid quite a bit over the course of the year.

That said, it was a tale of two seasons for Poganski this year. He got off to a brutal start, scoring just five points in his first 19 games of the season, but he ended the season pretty strong, averaging a point-per-game over the last fifteen games.

Draft projection?

It all depends on what data you want to look at. Poganski's strong finish to the season suggests that once he figured things out in the USHL, he was capable of being the scorer many expected. But at the same time, Poganski has always been one of the bigger kids in his age group, and his overall disappointing season when facing competition as big and strong as him suggests he may have just been an early developer and his future upside may be limited. There's enough talent there to be drafted, but he might slide a bit from where Central Scouting has him ranked to the latter portions of the draft.

Pro upside?

Poganski's size makes him a pretty versatile pro prospect. His ceiling would be as a second line power forward that contributes on the power play, but could also be effective as a heavy-hitting third or fourth line forward, provided he gets better on his own end of the ice.

Where will he go next?

Poganski will most likely be heading to the University of North Dakota next season, rather than returning to Tri-City in the USHL. Like his slow adjustment to the USHL, it may take some time for Poganski to adjust to the college game and become a top player, but his size and strength should allow him to contribute on a lower line right away. Barring a major explosion in production, Poganski is likely four years away from signing a pro contract.

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