Over the next few weeks, The Win Column has ranked the Calgary Flames’ best prospects in advance of the 2022 NHL Draft.
Yesterday we covered all the prospects that did not make it into the top 15, and today we kick things off with our 15th ranked prospect: Martin Pospisil.
There was quite a bit of variation in the rankings after the top 10. Pospisil was ranked on three of the eight ballots, listed as an honourable mention on another, and unranked on the remaining four. Since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft, he has steadily improved his production at the professional level. This comes despite plenty of adversity including dealing with some tough injuries.
Pospisil isn’t definitely destined for the NHL by any means, but he possesses a certain set of skills that make him an option at the NHL level.
Pospisil’s strengths and weaknesses
In Pospisil’s first AHL season back in 2019–20, it was clear that the big Slovak had a long way to go at the pro level. He was frequently held off the scoresheet and struggled to adapt to that level of hockey. However, he still made an impact by throwing plenty of hits and dropping his mitts. Unfortunately, he was concussed in a fight against the late Colby Cave and didn’t play for almost three months.
When he returned, he went right back to playing the gritty, hard-forechecking style he excels at. Pospisil is a power forward in every sense of the word. He thrives on the forecheck, is particularly good at retrieving pucks from the corners and mixing it up along the boards.
So far at the professional level, Pospisil has been very good at being an enforcer rather than a go-to point producer. He doesn’t have the toolkit to ever be a top-six player at the NHL level, but he definitely still has potential to be a bottom-six spark plug that will muck things up and defend his teammates.
In a system like Darryl Sutter‘s, Pospisil has the potential to be a solid forechecking winger that can retrieve pucks and keep the cycle going. Beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot at the NHL level, but that is a skill that every team values and keeps Pospisil in the conversation. He didn’t have an eye-popping year in the AHL, but with a solid training camp he could become an option like Walker Duehr was this season. You never know with big power forwards, there is always a chance a coach values that skillset and wants it in their lineup.
Pospisil’s on-ice results
This wasn’t the standout year that was expected from Pospisil. He put up impressive offensive totals in the shortened 2020–21 season, amassing five goals and 11 points in 14 games, but it really dropped off this season. In 47 games, Pospisil finished with seven goals and 25 points. A large part of this decline has to do with the power play. With the emergence of other, more talented offensive players like Jakob Pelletier and Connor Zary, Pospisil saw his power play time fall. He finished the season with just one power play goal, a far cry from the three he had in 2020–21.
Pospisil stayed true to his nature with 95 penalty minutes this past season, good for second on the team.
There’s no doubt he can mix it up, but that’s not the only part of his game. He does have skill, and that’s what keeps him in the conversation as a potential NHL prospect. Check out this smooth shootout tally:
He can make plays, and the Heat clearly saw that potential. He spent most of the season in Stockton’s top-six, most recently playing on the wing with Pelletier and Byron Froese. He added some jam to a line with smaller, skilled players and really complemented them well.
Pospisil’s next steps
The 2018 draft was only four years ago, and Pospisil is still a relatively young player. He’s shown a unique skillset at the professional level, and his blend of size and skill make him a very intriguing player. He can play with top-end skill guys, muck it up with bruisers, play on the power play as a net-front presence, and never backs down from a fight. He is a quintessential hockey player, and as long as he keeps playing that way, there will be a home for him on a professional hockey team.
The hope is that next season he can do more on the skill side of the game than the enforcer side. He’s shown that he can punch faces with the best of them. Now, the next step for Pospisil is to show that he can excel at other parts of the game, too. He’ll likely play in the top-six once again, perhaps regain some power play time if Pelletier graduates to the NHL level, and it will be up to Pospisil to show that he is a well rounded player who can help the Flames.
The best thing going for Pospisil is his style of play. His forechecking and board play make him a candidate to immediately succeed in a Sutter system, and there is no reason why he can’t be next year’s Walker Duehr.