Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Postma skating on bubble

Jets prospect feels ready to make jump

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This is a story about a prized Winnipeg Jets prospect who lit it up Tuesday with a marvellous four-point effort.

And his name is not Mark Scheifele.

Lost in all the hoopla about the work of the Jets' first-round draft pick was the effort served up by 22-year-old defenceman Paul Postma, who scored the team's first goal and set up three others.

"I felt the game went pretty well for me," said Postma. "I was keeping it simple, getting pucks to the net and managed to get the one goal. We played well as a team and managed to get a couple of assists as well."

OK, so aside from under-selling his own game, here's what Jets' fans should know about the 22-year-old Red Deer, Alta., native:

-- He was a seventh-round draft pick, 205th overall, by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007;

-- After a solid final year of junior in 2008-09 -- a year in which he was nominated for the WHL's top defenceman award -- Postma played his first pro game with the Chicago Wolves.

-- 132 AHL games he has 27 goals and 47 assists and led all Wolves defenceman last year in scoring

"I liked him. Points aside, I wanted to watch his D-zone coverage, that was a question mark a little bit," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "He was pretty good, pretty composed. He moved the puck pretty good, shot the puck pretty good. I liked him.

"But the test for a guy like him and people in those positions is now it turns up. There's another level coming here, where are you going to be then with less time, more heat, more response? This is really what you're going to see this weekend and those two last games are really going to be a telling tale. You're going to see some things there."

It's true, this weekend's road games and those next week at home will go a long way in determining whether a prospect like Postma -- Noel called him a "bubble player" -- can make the leap to the next level.

And after spending two years in the minors and getting a taste for what Winnipeg crowds are like, Postma now hopes his address to be in the 204 area code.

"I definitely want to be here in Winnipeg," said Postma. "I don't think there's a better place to play in the league right now than Winnipeg.

"(The crowd at Tuesday's game) was incredible. There was a lot of excitement in this rink and the guys were all excited to play. It was a lot of fun. It's not just hockey fans, it's the whole city here behind us and watching and rooting for you.

"The only way I could describe it is compare it to a Stanley Cup playoff game. It's by far the loudest rink I've ever heard of in my life. On the ice and the guys sitting on the bench before the game you could even talk to the guy beside you, it was that loud."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 22, 2011 C3

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