Martin Pospisil is a very intriguing hockey player. The first of three players selected by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft – and the first player they selected over their weekend – his talent is almost overshadowed by the conception that he’s the Tasmanian Devil on skates.
But the Flames may have bought low on a player with some upside.
A product of Zvolen, Slovakia – located in the geographic center of that country – Martin has spent a good deal of his hockey-playing time following in his older brother Kristian’s footsteps. Kristian is three-and-a-half years older and is currently signed with the Toronto Marlies.
As did Kristian, Martin ended up playing much of his high-end hockey in Austrian junior leagues. He jumped to North America for the 2017-18 season as an old 17-year-old (he turned 18 in November), joining the Sioux City Musketeers – the same team his older brother played on during the prior season.
“He told me Sioux City is a really good organization and USHL is a really good league, and he said it’s really good for me if I come to Sioux City,” said Pospisil at Flames development camp.
The elder Pospisil had 40 points in 48 games in 2016-17 (as a 19-year-old), while Martin had 37 points in 49 games as an 18-year-old. The younger Pospisil was third on the Musketeers in scoring. He has one more year left in the USHL, then he’s headed off to St. Lawrence University for the 2019-20 campaign.
“It’s a little bit different hockey in Europe than in U.S.,” noted Pospisil. “I like the U.S. hockey because the rink is a little bit smaller than Europe. I play physical and it’s more tough.”
One thing the two Pospisil brothers have in common? Taking many penalties. Kristian led the MHL in penalty minutes in 2014-15 (with 161 in 49 games), while Martin led the USHL in penalties with 253 minutes. He admits that finding the balance between physical play and helping his team offensively was a challenge.
“For sure, because this year I was suspended for 13 games,” said Pospisil. “And then after then I just said to the guys, ‘I want to play, I don’t want to be in the penalty box.'”
While that’s easier said than done – and we’ll believe it when we see it – Pospisil had 0.76 points per game and 77 more penalty minutes than the next nearest player. You can’t say he wasn’t engaged in the games. Right now he’s still trying to figure out where the edge is. If he can channel himself more effectively and play less like an unfocused firehose, he could be a good value pickup given a couple seasons in college to round himself out.
That said, it’s also entirely possible he could end up joining his brother in the AHL and ECHL. He’s at the point of his career where it could go either way, but he still has a good deal of time to figure things out.
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