The Flames Fifteen: #6 – Roman Horak


Roman Horak was traded to Calgary a little over a year ago along with two second round picks in the draft (Markus Granlund and Tyler Wotherspoon) from the New York Rangers, and at the time not much was being praised about the return for the Flames blue chip prospect, Tim Erixon. As the anger subsided and more people began to learn more about the new youngster, there grew a sense of optimism; especially given the history of how he played with another (then) highly touted prospect, Ryan Howse.

In his rookie season with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins, Horak scored 21 goals and 47 pts, not too bad. It was in his second season that he flourished. Though he only scored five more goals (26), he registered 52 assists to give him 78 pts in 64 games. His 1.22 PPG can largely be attributed to playing alongside a triggerman like Howse, but Horak also displayed that he had a natural raw vision of the game of where he needed to be in relation to where the puck was along with his teammates.

Player   Kent   Justin   WI   Scott   VF   Arik [NC]
Roman Horak   5   8   6   8   9   7

[HockeyDB] [EliteProspects] [Hockey’s Future]

*Reminder – The evaluators were asked to rank players, and we sorted the rankings via a simple point scale-number 15 on each list got one point, while number 1 on each list got 15. The criteria for who was included was pretty simple: players the Flames control who are 23 and under (excluding Mikael Backlund, since he’s already a bona fide NHLer).

Horak was given every opportunity with the big club this past season and in the beginning he looked like he was going to take full advantage. In fact, his performance in his first ten games, where he netted five points in seven games, had the fans smiling and forgetting all about Tim What’s-his-name. The circumstances of how he got those points as well had fans optimistic. Initially Roman was seeing about a 40% offensive zone start and a high winning face-off percentage. He was getting the attention of both the coaching staff and his linemates.

"He’s a good kid. He’s a smart kid. He wants to learn every day and he’s asking questions (about) what he can do better, to be a better player. It’s great to see a young guy who wants to learn. He works hard every day." – Olli Jokinen

Unfortunately, Horak’s blazing start would burn out. Over his remaining 51 games, Roman would only score one more goal and three assists. As Roman’s play began to tail off, so too the confidence Brent Sutter had in him, to the point where he spent time in the pressbox and even a demotion back to Abbotsford. He didn’t spend too much time in the minors and returned to the lineup, though it’s tough to say if the recall was based on his play or need due to the injuries piling up with the parent squad.

By the end of the season, Roman had seen his zone starts go from 60% in the defensive zone to a 50/50 split, meaning his ice time was a bit more sheltered. What really changed was the rookie’s time on the ice though: In his first twenty games, Horak was seeing roughly 12-13 minutes a night. In his last twenty, that time dropped to on average to about 8:30 per night.

By no means is Horak necessarily to be a ten game flash in the pan. Over the course of the season he showed that he is a smart player with the potential for development. He is a pretty good skater with decent speed with good hands; he has timing in that he is not going to be likely to cough up the puck in his own end because he’s panicking on the play. With a new coach that is more open to developing his offensive gifts, he should have a much more productive year.

Speed Bumps

On the other hand, it eventually became clear that Horak was a kid in over his head. Even though he was limited to strictly third and fourth line opposition every night, the puck began to spend entirely too much time in the Flames end whenever Horak was on the ice. He finished the season well under water in terms of possession (-9.29/60) even though he faced the softest aggregate quality of competition outside of Tom Kostopolous on the team. So while the tools are there, Horak still has to find a way to put them together in order to be a useful NHLer. Which is usually true of any fresh faced 20-year old.

With Mikael Backlund starting the season healthy and depending on what the Flames do between now and training camp, Horak may find himself on the outside looking in. However, if there is a spot for him on the Flames roster, it will be up to him to replicate the start he had last year to ensure he keeps that spot.

His experience from last season may give him something positive to build on, it will be up to him to once again turn chance to his advantage.


Player   Kent   Justin   WI   Scott   VF   Arik [NC]   Final Rank
Roman Horak   5   8   6   8   9   7   6
Michael Ferland   8   7   7   7   6   11   7
Lance Bouma   10   9   5   14   4   12   8
Markus Granlund   7   6   0   10   13   8   9
Bill Arnold   11   11   0   11   8   5   10
Greg Nemisz   9   13   0   5   15   15   11
Paul Byron   12   10   0   12   11   9   12
John Ramage   14   12   0   0   12   10   13
Chris Breen   0   15   0   13   0   14   14
Tyler Wotherspoon   0   14   0   0   10   0   15

  • Colin.S

    he doesn’t just have decent speed, he has UNREAL speed. In a straight line, anyway. Watch the clips from the danone superskills (fastest skater, obviously).

  • My feeling is that the Flames got a pretty good package for a player who was never going to sign with them. Erixon, despite his supposed pedigree, was never able to crack the Rangers’ roster (even with Staal injured for so long) and his name even came up in the Nash trade rumours.

    I remember Horak scoring his (first?) NHL goal, or at least one of them. He was knocked to the ground and batted the puck out of the air into the net. Good stuff.

    Horak has been somewhat of a pleasure to have on the Flames. Although he fell off the cliff after a few games, what else can you expect from someone who had never really played in the NHL before? He’s not a young Gretzky and he’s no Baerstchi, but with the right improvement, I think he could be a solid 2nd line C.

  • Colin.S

    I don’t know where he fits in going forward, I think he could be better than a bottom sixer, but I don’t see him as a great top six either. He’s to skilled to be a grinder and not skilled enough to be top line talent.

    I’m really curious to see how he is used going forward, because I think he’s am NHLer, I just don’t know in what capacity.

  • everton fc

    Jokinen’s comments speak to character. This kid’s got character. Stempniak said the same early last season. He wants to learn. He’s hungry. Good things…

    At present, we are “deep” at centre, meaning he have a lot of bodies. Guys like Jones, Backlund… and now Cervenka… Seem to push Horak out of the picture. If Jokinen’s resigned for cheap, I see no spot for Horak next season… Even if Jokinen’s not signed… (As an aside, Jokinen is certainly durable. Something to consider, if the Flames are thinking of keeping him for 2 more years, which I wouldn’t “hate”, in a 3rd line role, minus Stajan)

    Still, Horak’s only 21 years old. A full season in Abby centering the likes of Ferland and others may prove beneficial. This is where he’ll most likely end up, me thinks. Which makes most sense…

    I think he is a capable two-way player who could become a nice playmaker in a 3rd line role. On a more immediate basis, I think he’d be a good centre on a line with Stempniak, if he’s re-signed. But is that a playoff caliber combination? Is it a combination that will help the Flames down the road? Will it happen next year?? All highly unlikely.

    Too bad he can’t play RW. He has played LW. But we are “deep” with bodies on that side, as well.

  • everton fc

    @everton fc – I wouldn’t mind seeing Roman down for a full year in Abby. Think it would help with his long term development.

    Agree also that it’d be good for some of these prospects to play and develop together.

  • Colin.S


    If Camms plays center for Iggy and Tangs I could see Stajan being 2nd line center for Cervenka on the right, Backlund with the third line center.

    But that still leaves no room for Horak IMO, because the way I envision it Jones is the 4th line center, but thats just one way to look through the lines, they could always find a way to dump Stajan and Backlund could be given the 2 role and Horak the 3 with Baertschi on the left.

  • everton fc


    Makes sense, in a structured, intelligent rebuiild.


    Horak centering Glencross and Cervenka would be interesting.

    I also wonder who has the most potential – Backlund or Horak. Horak seems more the playmaker.

    Time will tell.

    Off topic, will our entire coaching staff be from Quebec?!

  • Graham

    Looking at the prospect’s list from 6 – 14, I can’t say that I am particularly excited by any of them. Yes, some of them may well develop into bottom six forwards, but none of them look like impact players. Then again, Bouma will have an ‘impact’ when he hits you lol.

    We have a lot of smaller centers, so Horak will have to step up his game if he wants to crack the lineup. If we see a repeat of the Horak from the last 51 games, he does not have much of a future. If he can find a way to score some goals, Horak might be a reasonable and cheap bottom 6 forward.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Horak reminds me of a less good Krejci. Maybe with time he can become a nearly-as-good Krejci (I don’t think Krejci’s exactly an amazing player, but he’s a solid top 6er).

    @Graham: he’s only 20. I’d say tr jury’s out for at least another 2-3 years.

  • MC Hockey

    Hi all, Loved that Horak showed flashes early and helps us forget Erixon, plus recall that Feaster got two second-rounders as well. Thus, at this point, we have won the trade hands down as Horak will become at least a good 3rd-line C given chances to play and develop, get on the PP occasionally and play SH, etc. He appears to have good hands and vision so hoe the Flames don’t squander his talent like they have in the Dutter era with players like Lombardi.

    P.S. However, if Erixon is 60% of the player that Lidstrom was (since comparisons were made), then perhaps we have lost the trade. Remember Markus Granlund and Ty Wotherspoon are certainly prospects of some note. Somebody hit that guy (Erixon) hard when NYR is played!