The Marty Party arrived in 2023-24, and now it looks like anything is Pospisil

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
28 days ago
Nobody – and I mean nobody – had projected Martin Pospisil to play NHL games in his career. In the 2023-24 season he took his one opportunity and boy oh boy did he make the most of it.

The season

Martin Pospisil stuck around training camp quite awhile before being one of the final cuts sent down. His speed and forechecking stood out amongst those actually trying during training camp, enough to get an extended look.
Alas, training camp ended the way it typically does in the NHL – with the talented young players getting sent down in favour of aging veterans. Hey, it’s the unfortunate normal of a salary cap world, the guys that pay the bills want their big money they’ve invested on the big club.
In order to go down to the AHL the Flames placed Pospisil on waivers on Oct. 6. Anybody in the entire league could have claimed him, yet nobody did. These situations are why it’s reasonable to question the scouts employed by NHL teams, because based on how the rest of the year went, all 31 other teams should have filed a claim.
On Nov. 3, Pospisil, along with Connor Zary, was recalled to the Flames NHL roster. He got into the lineup for the first time on Nov. 4 against Seattle, scoring his first NHL goal in the process. No matter what happened he was now an NHL goal scorer.
For someone who has publicly stated he was close to quitting hockey that is some kind of an achievement.
He would find a comfortable home on a line early with Nazem Kadri and Connor Zary, staying there for the majority of the Flames competitive season. Zary would start to put up some offensive numbers early while Kadri also spiked offensively, but hardly anyone was looking at Pospisil except for when he was being a pest.
Man did he ever fill that role perfectly.
He crossed the line a few times, and got suspended March 6th, but kept up his solid play up through till the Flames 2024 trade deadline exodus. That’s when his impact truly started to shine. The lines got jumbled but no matter what, using his speed and physicality, Pospisil remained a highly impactful player.
A unicorn of a top 9 forward the Flames could have lost for nothing is now locked up through 2025-26 at just $1 million per season, expiring as an RFA. If he continues to develop, especially finding better ways to score, he could be something very special.

The numbers

Martin Pospisil tallied 8 goals, 16 assists and 24 points in 63 games. Over 82 matches that pro-rates to 10 goals, 21 assists for 31 points. For a top 6 role he needs to find ways to score more goals around the net, but he already brings a forechecking element no other Flame can currently match.
Mangiapane can be relentless, but he’s never been relentlessly physical like Pospisil. He helps establish possession in the offensive zone and when paired with smart perimeter players – like Kadri – can have a massive impact on shot rates.
Now one might naturally think this was driven by Kadri – of course the veteran, Cup-winning centre had an impact, but Pospisil did more to help him than one might think. The one concern I do have is it’s a bit of a predictable attack never shooting the puck from the right wing, but that’s something they can work on growing and developing.
Regardless, offensively Pospisil contributed heavily in terms of generating chances. His offensive/defensive quality rates mimic another come from scraps story currently playing for the Florida Panthers. He certainly can’t shoot the puck like Carter Verhaeghe, but his impact on shot rates is very similar to what he’s producing.
For those that want to quote quality of competition as a reason this comparable is ridiculous then fear not, that’s accounted for in the calculations from Evolving-Hockey. Like I said it’s still not perfect – and their method of how they attack is completely different – but the net total impact on shot rates is next to identical.
That bodes well for the ceiling Pospisil could reach. At worst he’s proven he’s at minimum an every day NHL player.

Being the perfect pest

One last little note on Pospisil – we have got to talk about him being a thorn in everybody’s side.
It’s perfect.
Back when Matthew Tkachuk caved to all the noise and fought Zack Kassian in the Battle of Alberta rematch I felt he sold out from what truly made everyone so mad at him. Not only was he skilled and annoying, he didn’t have to fight back. The Oilers spent all their time trying to kill him back then, as soon as he fought Kassian that was over and Edmonton just focused on just beating them with the higher end skill they won by sucking for so many years.
With his history of concussions not only is Pospisil unwilling (more like unable) to fight, anyone that tries to force him ends up as the bad guy. He has every right to play whistle to whistle as hard as he wants, and by literally not being able to answer the bell teams are going to spend more time focused on getting their revenge on him than playing the actual structured game of hockey. He does need to make sure he keeps the cheap stuff out of his game or the opposition will start going after other young guys and star players, but if he can figure out how to toe the line he not only adds value in wins he gives the C of Red a hell of a lot to cheer for at a live game.

The future

Honestly nobody in this entire organization is safe from the right trade. Pospisil is no exception, but he’s not somebody they are going to actively shop or even entertain offers on unless it’s something special. Do you scoff at including Pospisil in a package for a number one center under the age of 25? Not a chance. Are the Flames in any position to be looking for that? Absolutely not. It’s a safe bet that if you get yourself a Pospisil jersey it will stand the test of time.
Remember, nobody had him playing in the NHL. If they tell you they knew, they are lying to you. None of that matters though, because the Marty Party is only just beginning.

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