The 2016 CWHL Draft was a productive one for strong defense, with players like Renata Fast and Erin Ambrose making their league debuts. Les Canadiennes had hoped Cassandra Poudrier would rise to the top of this talented rookie class. The former captain of the Cornell Big Red was drafted 10th overall into the league, and joined a stacked Montreal roster.
Poudrier’s start, however, has left a little something to be desired. With three points in ten games played, all assists, she currently sits in 11th place for rookie scoring in the league. A 0.60 point per game player in college, Poudrier seems to still be getting used to playing the in the pros. Her current 0.30 points per game has her in 5th place among Les Canadiennes’ eight rostered defenders.
It is important to note that rookies are expected to have a drop in numbers as they transition to professional play. Even rookie phenom Sarah Lefort has experienced a 0.35 drop in her points per game since going pro. Poudrier’s drop just seems more marked given her lower starting point.
Still, Montreal is likely hoping for a little more out of the rookie. With Julie Chu taking over as head coach at Concordia and putting in less time with the team, the blue line is left shorter than usual. Montreal has suffered surprising losses to Toronto and Brampton already this season, and desperately needs scoring depth. Poudrier is one of only two defenders to play every game so far this season, the other being veteran Cathy Chartrand. She will need to use this newly gained experience to step up for Les Canadiennes when stars like Julie Chu and Carly Hill are unavailable.
When Montreal drafted Poudrier, they likely knew she would not be a scoring superstar. She finished her senior season at Cornell with 85 blocked shots in 28 games. However, the CWHL does not track stats like individual shot attempts and blocked shots. These are the areas in which Poudrier’s numbers could speak volumes and justify her place on the roster as a true defensive defender.
However, regardless of her natural inclination to play stay-at-home defense, Poudrier will find herself in a position where there is pressure to generate scoring chances for Les Canadiennes. The team currently sits in second place behind the Calgary Inferno. As reigning regular season champions, Montreal will not be happy with anything but a repeat. If Poudrier fails to increase her scoring contributions, she may very well end up just another face on a team without a Clarkson Cup.