59Martin Pospisil
Photo Credit: Hickling Images

Flames 2018 draft: A closer look at Martin Pospisil

The Flames didn’t have many draft picks, and didn’t have many high quality picks. Accordingly, when they came up to pick, they couldn’t find many guys who put up high numbers.

Except for Martin Pospisil (POS-peh-sil). He puts up big numbers. This past season, the 6’2″, 172 lb. USHL centre/left winger picked up 253 penalty minutes in 49 games, far and away the USHL’s leader in that category, and perhaps the leader in the whole 2018 draft class. It may not be the big numbers people typically like from prospects, but they’re still big numbers.

But the Flames didn’t pick a goon in Pospisil. He does put up numbers, they’re just a bit harder to see. There are some scoring numbers below the surface that get ignored for his penalty minutes which could make Pospisil an interesting draft prospect.

Numbers and such

GP G A P Primary Points 5v5 points 5v5 primary points NHLe
USHL 49 8 29 37 24 24 18 17.34

Pospisil began the season pretty slow, only picking up five points in his first 16 games, and only getting his first goal in game 19. Part of that is likely due to him just arriving from the Austrian minor leagues that season. Shortly after, he found his footing and started getting much better. He picked up 21 points in 13 games in the middle of the season, and finished the year with nine in his last 10 games.

The most impressive aspect of Pospisil’s game is just how important he is to Sioux City’s offence. Pospisil contributed on 30.61% of all Sioux City goals and 24.70% of all 5v5 goals. Those are extremely strong numbers for any player in any junior league, nevermind a rookie with no prior North American experience. Those numbers do drop to 19.33% (all situations) and 18.52% (5v5) when you only consider primary contributions, however.

Pospisil also looks good when compared to the rest of the USHL draft class. Out of the 59 USHL draft eligible players who played at least 10 games, Pospisil finished 14th in points per game and 19th in primary points per game. When looking at 5v5 scoring exclusively, he jumps to seventh in P/GP, and 10th in P1/GP. If you factor in estimated time on ice, he’s eighth in both estimated 5v5 P/GP and P1/GP. The USHL is a bit further behind than the CHL in terms of talent, but these numbers are nothing to slouch at.

Given that most of his competition ahead of him is from the U.S. National Development Team, Pospisil has some great numbers for the average USHL player.

The rapsheet

So 253 penalty minutes is a pretty high number. That’s almost four and one-third of games’ worth of penalty box time. Let’s talk about that.

Pospisil fancies himself a tough guy, which is fine if you’re productive enough (he is close), but he takes a large amount of penalties in doing so, more so than your average pest. He picked up 88 minutes in minors penalties throughout the season (the majority of them being roughing calls) which is near the top of the PIMs pack for the USHL when you only consider minors.

The rest of Pospisil’s penalty minutes come from majors and misconducts Here’s how it breaks down:

Penalty type Why Total minutes served
Major
  • Fighting (x3)
  • Charging
  • Boarding
25 minutes
Misconduct
  • Fighting (x3)
  • Charging
  • Abuse of official
  • Boarding
  • Checking from behind
  • Removal of helmet
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct
  • Undefined (x4)*
130 minutes
Game ejection
  • Aggressor in a fight
  • Fighting (Misconduct in addition to ejection)
  • Charging
  • Abuse of official (Misconduct in addition to ejection)
  • Roughing minor
  • Boarding
  • Removal of helmet
20 minutes
Suspension
  • Charging – 2 games
  • Instigator – 2 games (same incident as the charge)
  • Removal of helmet – 1 game
  • Boarding – 1 game
  • Misconduct accumulation – 1 game
  • Charging – 2 games
9 games

Pospisil was assessed two misconducts immediately following double majors for roughing and another after a roughing minor. No explanation given otherwise.

The majority of his penalty minutes come from majors and misconducts, mostly fighting related. A part of that number is inflated by the rules of the USHL. If you play by NHL rules and remove the automatic fighting/charging misconducts in the USHL while assuming the rest were earned, at least 70 minutes are subtracted, but 105 PIMS is still a substantial figure.

You can spin that as both good and bad. Imagine how many points Pospisil would’ve put up had he not been kicked out so often. Despite being the estimated leading 5v5 points per 60 scorer on the Musketeers, Pospisil finished sixth in estimated time on ice, likely because of his frequent visits to the penalty box. He was booted from five games with more than 20 minutes left, and once in the first period. If Pospisil had stuck around, you wonder how much larger his stat line could’ve been.

The bad is quite obvious and certainly the bigger concern. Pospisil is a hothead and puts his team at a disadvantage by constantly being kicked out of games. The story of Pospisil, as it appears in the box scores, is that he will often escalate a post-whistle scrum into something more serious, often packaging it with a major or a misconduct. He racked up 175 PIMs and nine games in the press box because of his temper. Undisciplined play isn’t going to get him very far in his professional career, and it’s not a trait that can be easily taught out of the game.

Perhaps the USHL games are called more strictly than your average hockey game, but Pospisil’s criminal hockey record indicates that he should probably work on reducing the infractions. He’s depriving his team of a legitimate scorer whenever he goes off the rails.

Final thoughts

Pospisil is heading back to Sioux City for another year in the USHL before heading to St. Lawrence University for the 2019-20 season. He’s certainly a work in progress, but there are some promising signs that he can maybe be something more than a PIMs machine.

If he cleans up his act (not to make a direct comparison to Matthew Tkachuk, but if Pospisil learns where exactly the line is and how to come close to it without crossing it, that’s also acceptable) he could be one to look out for.


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