After a roller coaster of a first professional season, contributed by a three-month absence from the lineup due to a concussion, Martin Pospisil slides seven spots in our annual prospect ranking, coming in at 17th this year.

How did we get here?

Hailing from Zvolen, Slovakia, the rugged centreman moved to play hockey in the USHL circuit at the age of 17. Drafted in the 4th round back in 2018, Pospisil was developed in the Austrian junior system, often with age groups above his own as can be seen below:

  • He was in a U18 league at age 15
  • He split his 2015-16 season between a U18 and U20 league at age 16
  • He spent the entirety of his 2016-17 season in a U18 league at age 17
  • Started his first pro season at age 19

Given his size and playing style, Pospisil has measured up well against his peers at lower levels. Thus, it was interesting to see how he would have done during his first pro season with the Heat, especially following his return to the USHL for the 2018-19 season due to him being academically ineligible for NCAA hockey. Unfortunately for him, and fans alike, his season was cut short due to the aforementioned injury.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

Martin Pospisil’s stat line for his first pro season:

League  Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM
AHL 26 3 7 10 56

Tied for 17th on the team in goals, 17th for points, and 18th for assists, Pospisil’s rookie season certainly did not go as planned. That being said, positives can be found when splitting Slovakian’s season into pre and post-injury.

His first six pro games saw Pospisil laying goose eggs for every important offensive stat, with the final game in this six game segment being the one that saw him get knocked out from a fight with Colby Cave. Following his return nearly three months later on Jan. 11, 2020, Martin put up 10 points in the remaining 20 games, with seven of those coming in the last seven of the season. While we’re certainly reaching to find some sort of silver lining, all in all, it was a decent first pro season for rookie Martin Pospisil – sans the injury. Sticking to his nature, Pospisil also posted the third most penalty minutes on the Heat, despite missing roughly 30 regular-season games.

Those in the know

Stockton Heat head coach, Cail MacLean, had the following to offer with regards to Pospisil’s rookie season:

It’s not an easy situation to come in at Martin’s age and coming in from the USHL. No discredit to that league, but it’s a large jump for any player coming out of junior or the college ranks, especially at that age. I think Martin had definitely a slow start and his injury didn’t help in that respect, but you could see real progress coming at the end. He showed a willingness to work with the staff and learn and you could see that coming in his game, and also he was sort of settling into… he’s a player that has edge, but at the same time he can make plays and he can see plays develop, and you could see that over time with more consistent ice time and as the season wore on you could see him figuring out how to handle this pace of the American Hockey League. So I think that bodes well for things to come. Another big factor for Martin is, even as a young guy, is he’s really good at treating his teammates like family out there on the ice. Without hesitation, would always step in and stand up for his teammates so that was something that I think everyone appreciated.

On the horizon

The 2020-21 season will see Pospisil heading into the second year of his entry-level contract, after which he’ll turn into a restricted free agent. As a player who plays a fan-favorite style game, the Zvolen native will certainly have many people rooting for an injury-free and successful season.

Currently, on loan back home in Slovakia, Martin Pospisil is playing top nine minutes for HC Kosice, putting up 3 goals and 4 points in 6 games thus far. Should fellow Flames prospect Glenn Gawdin see a promotion to NHL, we could see Pospisil play a critical role in Cail MacLean’s top six in the upcoming season.

FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2020

The no-votes Missed the cut
#20: Tyler Parsons #19: Alexander Yelesin
#18: Ryan Francis