Like most prospects who aren’t expected to be selected early, Paul Postma didn’t attend the 2007 NHL draft, but instead stayed at home with family and a few close friends to watch the festivities. When his name was called in the seventh round (205th overall), Postma first heard the news from his agent that he had been selected by the Atlanta Thrashers.
“I was in shock and pretty excited,” Postma said. “My family was jumping up and down. They were really excited for me. I think I ended up taking them out for a big dinner to celebrate…nothing too special.”
Three years later, the 21-year-old is trying to work his way through the ranks as a pro hockey player. And while most seventh-rounders are fringe players – if they make it at all – Postma has made a name for himself as an offensive weapon after one season in the American League.
“His shot is a real cannon and I think it’s the hardest in the AHL,” said Chicago Wolves coach Don Lever. “He’s very mobile and his ability to make that first pass is just uncanny.”
Postma had high hopes heading into Atlanta’s training camp this fall, but with Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Johnny Oduya and newcomer Brent Sopel already occupying spots along the blueline it was an uphill battle from the start. Add in the fact new coach Craig Ramsay and GM Rick Dudley decided to start the season with Dustin Byfuglien as a defenseman and Postma would have really had to excel to push one of the players on a one-way contract aside.
When Postma was cut and demoted to AHL Chicago for the second straight year, it was a tough pill to swallow, but at the same time he understands the house is full and that it’s better for him in the long-run to fine-tune his game first.
“I had an OK camp, but it could’ve been better,” Postma said. “Maybe a little too nervous and maybe could have played with more confidence in myself. There’s a lot of numbers up there right now and it’s tough to crack that lineup, but just because I’m not starting there doesn’t mean I’m not going to play there.”
At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Postma has a big frame to grow into and he committed his summer to putting on weight, getting stronger and also improving his explosiveness with sprints.
In his last year of junior hockey with the Western League’s Calgary Hitmen, Postma notched 84 points in 70 games, so his offense can’t be questioned. That 2008-09 Hitmen squad was a powerhouse, veteran-laden team that lost only nine games all season and set or tied 22 different franchise records, but fell short of the Memorial Cup by being stunned in the WHL final by Tyler Myers and the Kelowna Rockets.
Entering professional life, Postma was given the task of making himself an all-around player and while he said he’d like to exceed last season’s 15 goals and 29 points in the AHL, he knows the Thrashers expect to see improvement in the defensive zone. He also knows that if he wants to make it, he has to earn important ice time.
“I don’t want to look at points too much,” Postma said. “I know I need to improve my plus-minus and defensive game. I want to be one of those guys you look toward in the last couple minutes of the game whether we’re up one or down one. I want to be playing those kind of minutes.”
For most people, just reaching the NHL would be enough for bragging rights, but Postma’s good friend from junior, T.J. Galiardi, has already made it with the Colorado Avalanche and the two have bantered about facing off in “The Show” one day.
“Oh, ya, all the time,” Postma laughed about the back-and-forth ribbing with Galiardi. “Hopefully within the next year or two it’s going to happen. We always joke around; he says he’s going to run me or toe-drag me and I say, ‘not a chance.’ It’s all for fun, but hopefully one day it does come true and we get to play each other.”
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