One of the Calgary Flames’ most intriguing draft prospects appears to be on the verge to being fast-tracked to the pros.
Sportsnet has confirmed Martin Pospisil’s plans to play at St. Lawrence University next season are in jeopardy due to academic ineligibility.
The 19-year-old Slovak has had trouble with his ACT scores, which could very well open the door for the Flames to sign him to a pro contract this summer.
After all, he is sitting second in USHL scoring and is capable of taking care of himself, as his league-leading penalty-minute totals can attest.
As the USHL’s second-leading scorer he continues to up his stock as the type of all-round player NHL teams are forever looking for. He can’t go to the Canadian Hockey League to play junior as he’s too old to go through their European Draft.
The Flames’ 2018 fourth round pick has a late birthday, making him eligible to play in AHL Stockton next season, if he and the Flames so desire.
“There are a bunch of schools that want him now, but we may sign him,” Flames GM Brad Treliving admitted Wednesday.
Pospisil was the first of the Flames’ five picks last June as part of a quiet draft that saw Calgary on the sidelines the first three rounds.
Flames fans have cause to start paying attention now as all five picks have had significant starts to the season.
One leads the USHL in points per game, two lead their teams in scoring and another sits 11th in the QMJHL scoring race.
“It’s early returns, but they’ve all gotten off to good starts, which is significant when you have late picks,” said Treliving.
Here’s how they look so far:
Martin Pospisil, 19, C, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
Drafted: Fourth round, 105th overall
Season to date: 17 GP | 10 G | 21 A | 31 P | +10
Last year the number that jumped out about the Sioux City Musketeers forward was 253, as in the number of penalty minutes he had. He continues to play an emotional game, but it’s his point total that has attracted most of the attention.
Pospisil is second in USHL scoring behind teammate Bobby Brink, but leads the loop in points per game
“He’s a little bit of a throwback – he’s a hard-edged, hard-nosed, gritty player and our guys like that,” said Treliving.
“He is a disturber with a lot of talent. He’s a big, lanky kid who is just filling out. He’s pushing 6-foot-3. He’s still 178 pounds, so he’s wiry but this kid has got a motor.”
Dmitry Zavgorodniy, 18, LW, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Drafted: Seventh round, 198th overall
Season to date: 26 GP | 14 G | 19 A | 33 P | +8
Picked eighth overall in the CHL draft one year earlier, the Flames are happy they took a flyer on the 5-foot-9, 169-pound Russian late in the draft.
The kid they call ‘Little Z’ wisely spent the summer in Calgary working out with the Flames’ conditioning coach, which immediately paid dividends. His impressive rookie camp led to a pre-season game with the big club in which he acquitted himself well.
He parlayed a solid camp into a red-hot start in the QMJHL, where he led the league in scoring for some time. He has settled down to sit 11th in league scoring on a Rimouski Oceanic team loaded with talent.
His goal with 14 seconds left in the CIBC Canada-Russia series against the QMJHL was his second in as many games, and gave Russia the series win earlier this month.
Emilio Pettersen, 18, C, University of Denver (NCAA)
Drafted: Sixth round, 167th overall
Season to date: 12 GP | 5 G | 9 A | 14 P | +9
Pettersen’s path to the University of Denver saw him leave Norway at age 14 for a stint in the USHL that paid off.
Despite being a diminutive freshman the 5-foot-10, 170-pound centre is playing top-six minutes and is tied for the team scoring lead. Pretty impressive for an 18-year-old.
Pettersen will play for Norway early next month in the Division 1A World Juniors, with hopes of winning the tourney so his nation can be promoted to the big tourney.
“The coaches in Denver rave about how serious a pro he is,” said Treliving. “He sort of jumped off the page for us.”
Milos Roman, 19, C, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Drafted: Fourth round, 122nd overall
Season to date: 26 GP | 14 G | 12 A | 26 P | +2
Known for his hockey IQ, the Slovak plays in every situation imaginable for the Vancouver Giants. He leads the team in goals and points despite a skating stride that still needs some work.
The Flames knew that when they drafted him.
Making the jump from the Czech Republic last year, Roman got valuable experience at the world juniors and under-18 world championships and continues to emerge as a character player on the west coast.
Demetrios Koumontzis, 18, LW, Arizona State University (NCAA)
Drafted: Fourth round, 108th overall
Season to date: 16 GP | 1 G | 7 A | 8 P | -1
Drafted out of U.S. high school, Koumontzis is the leading freshman at recently-ranked Arizona State University where he initially opened the season as a point a game player before slowing down of late.
He’s the youngest player on a veteran-laden team, but the 5-foot-10, 183-pound winger is seeing plenty of ice time.
Plenty of room and time to grow in a high-end program.