The St. Louis Blues always hope each one of their draft picks will pan out and become one of their roster players. It is rare to have someone confident in themselves, but smart enough to know they need more time.
The St. Louis Blues, like any team, hope their draft picks are going to become roster players sooner or later. Most of the time, it is the team that keeps the player waiting to go pro.
In the case of Austin Poganski, the player is actually the one that is taking a more pragmatic approach. Poganski is one of three players that recently signed entry-level deals.
However, unlike his college counterparts, Poganski postponed the beginning of his contract. While Nolan Stevens and Mitch Reinke began their contracts immediately and will be practicing with the Blues immediately, Poganski was assigned to the San Antonio Rampage.
He is going to the AHL on an amateur tryout contract. So, his two year entry-level deal begins in 2018-19 whereas the other two will end after 2018-19.
What is impressive about Poganski is his mentality regarding this situation. While, in his own way, he is betting on himself, he is also a realist and realizing that transitioning to the professional level is no easy task.
“I thought from my past experience from going to high school to junior or junior to college, it took time for me to transition into the next league,” Poganski said in an interview with Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. “I feel that having an extra year of development and time to develop my game is the best way.”
What is refreshing about Poganski’s point of view is that he’s not thinking about money only. He knows that he can make more money down the road by developing properly instead of going for the pay day right now and then having one bad season to base all future contracts on.
"“Obviously, when you start talking money, it would be nice to have that money. But if you burn a year and lay an egg, you’re in a tighter spot. For me, it gives me an extra year to hopefully prove myself. I’m hopefully not just going to be a one-year guy.”"
For me, personally, this is a big reason why I love hockey. Of course, like any sport, you’ve got guys that are looking to get paid. Hockey is not without its outlandish contracts.
However, you find way more stories like this in hockey than you do in baseball or basketball or football. In those sports, more often than not, guys are trying to get paid right away.
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We have seen player after player jump to the NBA way before they were physically or mentally ready because they wanted to or had to. It cannot be ignored that you’re often dealing with players in different socio-economic situations. However, again, it is the long-term thought process of Poganski that is impressive.
Poganski is not some sort of philanthropist. He wants to get paid, like any of us do for our skills.
But, he’s being smart and looking at the future. He knew he was not going to get any game time with the Blues right now since they are in the middle of a playoff push. So, why not go to the AHL where you are more likely to get playing time before burning though a year of your contract?
Don’t be like these NBA guys that could have developed into something special, but jumped too quick. Be confident in your talents, but realistic about where you fall in the pecking order. It’s rare and refreshing in today’s sporting landscape, where it’s all gimme gimme gimme right now.
Also impressive is Poganski’s view on St. Louis. He’s spent time in the organization and wants to be a part of the Blues. Usually you have to have played here to want to be here. Poganski already has a good feeling about the franchise and stayed when he could have not signed and become a free agent.
“I think St. Louis is a good spot for me,” he told Schlossman. “They play a north-south game like myself. They’ve been really good to me ever since they drafted me with development camps and keeping in touch. There was no reason to consider that (free agency).”
Poganski is built for the pro game more than many in his situation. He’s 6’2 and 210. Maybe he could add a little weight, but in today’s fast game, he already has the size of a professional. He is just allowing himself the time for his game to catch up.
Who knows if we will ever see Poganski actually suit up and become a regular for the Blues. If his thought process is any indication of how smart a player he can be, we should want him on the roster. If his skill set matches his smarts, he’ll be playing this game a long time.