There are only so many spots on a full-time roster sheet for defencemen and more than enough candidates suitable for the job. Paul Postma is among those hopeful blueliners fighting for a spot on next season’s Winnipeg Jets lineup.
Postma, 23, signed a new one-year, one-way NHL deal with the Winnipeg Jets on July 13th, 2012. He was a seventh round (205th overall) selection in 2007 by the Atlanta Thrashers and signed a three-year entry-level contract in April of 2009. This new contract being a one-way means that if he is unsuccessful making the Jets’ lineup, he will have to clear waivers to be sent down to the AHL.
"Paul is someone that’s been through the organization from a development standpoint, for a period of time," Jets' GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a conference call in July. "He’s put up some great numbers at the American Hockey League level and we’re hopeful that that trend and that development can continue in the next stage of his career and hopefully produce and be an impact player at the National Hockey League level."
Postma appeared in 56 games with the St. John’s IceCaps last season, posting 13 goals, 44 points and 32 penalty minutes. He has played in 188 career AHL games between Chicago and St. John’s for 118 career points (40G, 78A) and 118 penalty minutes.
The Red Deer, AB native has spent the summer with his family in his hometown, working hard at his off-season workouts and focusing on his nutrition as training camp looms. Cheveldayoff and the rest of the Jets’ brass will be looking for him to step up and impress if he wants to make the top six.
“He’s gotten bigger and stronger each and every year that he’s been in the organization and we expect that trend to continue,” said Chevy. “Paul had a very good pre-season last year and was very close to being a part of the Jets’ opening night roster but the opportunity to go and hone the game on both sides of it under Keith McCambridge and Mark Morrison in St. John’s has helped him tremendously."
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound d-man knows exactly how close he’s been to making the squad full time. He has played in four career NHL games between Atlanta and Winnipeg. He made his debut with the Jets on Nov. 5, 2011 in New Jersey against the Devils.
|Paul Postma #2, Carson McMillan #14 of the Calgary Hitmen await the face off against the Kelowna Rockets on May 6, 2009 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, Canada |
“Last year they had too many guys on one-way contracts and there just wasn’t enough room for me,” said Postma. “This year, they say that’s not the case and I’m ready to become a part of the team. We talked about my size and my weight and about getting stronger, that is definitely my first priority. My trainer has some really good programs for me. I’m also watching my nutrition a lot and making sure I’m eating a lot.
“I still have to prove myself and I’ve been working hard all summer on that. I’m looking forward to when camp starts and I can make an impact on the team.”
Postma began his major junior career with the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League. He was traded to the Calgary Hitmen for his 18-year-old season in 2007.
It wasn’t until the 2008-09 season that he had his explosive breakout year boasting league-leading numbers. In 70 games, he recorded 23 goals and an 84-point season, leading the way for defencemen in the WHL. He also won the WHL Plus-Minus Award with +67. He finished the 2009 playoffs with 13 points in 18 games, as the Hitmen were defeated by the Kelowna Rockets in Game 6 of the WHL finals.
“That was a year I will never forget, one of the funnest years I’ve played. My coaches had a lot of faith in me and played me in a lot of situations. It was one of those years when things were just going in for me." - Paul Postma
“It was one of those teams where on paper, we weren’t the greatest team, but we gelled really well and our team chemistry was incredible. It’s been quite a few years but I still have a bitter taste in my mouth about losing in the finals to Kelowna.”
Postma has a few familiar faces in both St. John’s and Winnipeg dating back to those major junior days. Evander Kane, Spencer Machacek and Brett Festerling all played for the Vancouver Giants at that same time. Kane was also with a force to be reckoned with in 2009, totaling 48 goals and 96 points in 61 games.
“Calgary and Vancouver were the top two teams in the league and whenever we played them, they were the biggest games of the year. I remember in the Saddledome, we almost sold it out, which is 16,000 people at a junior game. I remember playing against Kane and Mach’ [Machacek], they have both excelled extremely well and are playing some really good hockey right now. It’s nice to know those guys from the past and have friendships and relationships with players that you’re playing with.”
When asked to comment on the current Collective Bargaining Agreement situation, Postma said he’s just focusing on one day at a time and keeping his eye on the prize.
“I’m a little bit nervous and a little unaware of what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s something that’s completely out of my hands. Time will tell what happens and wherever I might be, I’ll make the best of it. Hopefully the season does get started and with this new contract, I definitely want to be in Winnipeg.”