When Martin Pospisil was drafted, the overall reaction was that the Flames drafted a goon.
With a statline that boasted 253 penalty minutes, it wasn’t an outlandish label, but not necessarily an accurate one either. Yes, Pospisil plays with an edge. He was also quietly one of the United States Hockey League’s most effective offensive weapons, albeit one that mostly got in his own way by getting himself tossed out of games.
This year, the quiet part became loud. Pospisil became one of the most exciting and energetic centremen in the USHL this season, and worked his way into the top 10 prospect conversation for the Flames.
When we last checked in
Pospisil didn’t look great at the surface level, but a deeper dive into his numbers offered some promise for the Flames’ fourth rounder.
It took a while for Pospisil to get used to North American hockey, as he only picked up five points in his first sixteen games. Having come straight out of the Austrian leagues, growing pains were expected, but once he turned it on, it was impossible to stop him. Midway through the season, he was scoring at least once a game, and even had a 13 game stretch where he picked up 21 points.
Relative to the rest of Sioux City, he was their most impactful player, leading the charge when he was on the ice. The issue was, as you may have guessed, that he was frequently off the ice. Taken literally, he spent over four whole games in the penalty box, and also racked up nine games worth of suspensions. Pospisil’s intensity and hotheadedness hurt his team, taking their best player out of the game frequently.
It’s a bit rocky.
On ice, Pospisil was an absolute monster, storming out of the gate with 26 points in his first 14 games, briefly leading the USHL. He couldn’t keep up with himself, but found himself a consistent place in the highlight reel.
His season had it’s first tumultuous moment when he was deemed academically ineligible for St. Lawrence University, throwing his NCAA plans in jeopardy (Brad Treliving said other schools were interested in him, however). The second moment was his 12 game suspension for attempting to fight a fan for throwing garbage at him in the penalty box. Having kept his temper under control for the majority of the season, this was a pretty low point.
Pospisil’s year did end on a high note, as he was signed to an entry level contract by the Flames after Sioux City was eliminated from the playoffs.
Martin Pospisil ➡️ Bobby Brink is a dangerous combination.
— USHL (@USHL) March 18, 2019
Numbers & Growth
|GP||G||A||P||Primary Points||5v5 Points||5v5 Primary points||NHLe|
Pospisil found his offensive motor this year, scoring at least one point in 34 of his 44 games this season. He picked up 19 multi-point games, and hit at least three points in a game nine times.
He was used in pretty much every situation possible, seeing heavy special teams time. He was deadly effective on the power play, finishing second on his team in PP points and 15th league wide, and even found some points shorthanded too. If there’s one criticism, it’s that he didn’t take as major a step forward in 5v5 scoring as he did in other departments, which is underwhelming because he led Sioux City in estimated 5v5 ice time at 16 minutes. He still finished second in estimated points per 60, but you figure he would be able to do more damage given how often he was used.
All of these numbers are great, but we have to consider the context of Pospisil being a 19 year old in the USHL. The NCAA culls a lot of the top talent and a decent number of middling players too from the USHL, so it’s not too hard to standout when a lot of the competition has moved on. Think of it like being an overager in the CHL, but to a greater extent.
In case you’re wondering, his PIMs total dropped from 253 to 118. He still managed to get suspended for more games (12 this season to nine the year before), but he cut down on the overall number of suspensions from six to one.
Oh my Martin Pospisil😱 pic.twitter.com/aKmPS1z4D6
— Sioux City Musketeers (@Musketeerhockey) October 31, 2018
Pospisil is Stockton bound. With the NCAA out of the question, the USHL already conquered, and an ELC in hand, there’s really no other place to go.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. The only recent player to make the jump directly from the USHL to the AHL was Zemgus Girgensons, who was okay in a bottom six role for the Rochester Americans and then rushed to the NHL for some reason (Buffalo isn’t exactly a model franchise). If that’s the standard, then we can probably expect Pospisil to have a quiet season, or at least as quiet a season as Pospisil can have.
Maybe he surprises us all and excels in the pros. He has the exciting playmaking ability to succeed and the in-your-face playing style that gets players noticed.
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