Roman Cervenka Signs in KHL



According to Ska’s website, Roman Cervenka has signed a deal with the KHL team starting next season. Which means he won’t be returning to the Flames or NA ice any time soon (read: ever).

When I discussed moving Cervenka at the deadline during the season, this was the primary reason – the high chance he wouldn’t stick around after a rough go in the NHL. Cervenka was never a favorite of the coaching staff here in town, due to a lackluster two way game and low level of conditioning touched off by a blood condition at the start of the year.

The loss of Cervenka on the ice isn’t a major one. He had some obvious offensive skill but his overall game was limited due to medicore skating and underwhelming defensive acumen. He projected more or less as supporting 3rd line scorer who would have to be sheltered to be effective.

There’s a chance Cervenka may have eventually improved as he acclimated to NA hockey, but it’s a better bet we’re at his peak as a pro hockey player right now.

I maintain the move was a worthwhile experiment by Feaster and company, but was doomed to fail owing to a number of circumstances, some that cropped up unexpectedly along the way. It’s too bad the club couldn’t covert him into something worthwhile before he fled back across the pond though.

Anyways, here is the google translation of the linked article:

SKA has signed a contract with the striker "Calgary" Roman Cervenka. In the CHL rights owned by Czech striker HC "Lion."

In Prague SKA team moved forward Teemu Ramstedt, as "Lion" has the right to a defense attorney Michal Jordan, selected in the fourth round draft pick in 2009. Roman Cervenka – a graduate of the Prague "Slavia", for which he played for 10 seasons.

In 2010, the striker moved to the "Vanguard" and became the top scorer in the CHL, scoring 31 washer. For three consecutive seasons Cervenka scored more than one point per game. Forward leading scorer in the Czech championship and participated twice in the NHL All-Star Game. In 2009, the new SKA won gold medals in the World Cup in the Czech national team, and the following year won the bronze medal tournament.

This season in the "Lion" and "Calgary" Roman Cervenka spent 44 games and scored 20 (10 +10) points. Agreement with the Czech hockey player designed for three years. SKA forward to join the team after the holiday.

(obviously some things are lost in translation there. Point is, they’ve signed him).

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Don’t let the door crush you on the way out dude! He sucked! I don’t think we’ve seen a softer player since pilon murzyn on defense! Straight -up aweful investment! Another million to go towards descent change! Talk about overrated! Hes all yours KHL!

  • piscera.infada

    But in all seriousness, I’m happy he’s going back if we couldn’t sign him. I had this eery feeling he was going to go somewhere, team up with Jagr, and as the old saying goes; light the league on fire.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I think it was pretty clear the NA game is not suited to him. The physicality of NA ice is not something he wanted to engage in. The big ice and the culture are more comfortable for him.

    We’ve seen other Euro position players who come over later in their twenties not acclimate (Brunnstrom) to the physicality and differences in NA ice. They look good when they have time to make plays.

    How it translates to a guy like Barkov or Lindholm (compared to Monahan) might be interesting. Is age a factor? Can you get accustomed to having the time after a certain age? Or is it just the player regardless of age ie If Cervenka and Brunnstrom came over as teens would they have not fared well?

    • piscera.infada

      I think cases like the Sedins and Forsberg have shown us that it is probably much easier to acclimate when younger. Especially in those cases where a player comes over after the draft. They’re still growing and getting stronger, so it’s not as much to ask of them to gain the requisite strength to compete.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I would have like to see him for one more year to see what he could do with a full season, full camp, and no blood clot. Plus the experience of 39 NHL games.

    But I think the odds were against him being a meaningful top 6 forward so losing him isn’t a big deal.

    I think he was a good gamble last season. I would like to see more of them. No cost, low risk, and potentially high reward. Fans have to be patient though as more of these will fail then work out. If Feaster stopped overselling these guys I think fans would be more receptive.

  • Subversive

    While I echo that this was a worthwhile experiment and the analysis of why it didn’t work, I disagree that moving him at the deadline would have been a value move. The return would have been marginal at best (4th round pick or lower I would guess). Calgary was better off to take the time to see if he could hack it playing a regular shift and, if so, sign him on a value deal.

    A 4th round or lower pick is something like a 5% shot at an NHL player. I think holding on to Cervenka gave the Flames better odds than that of securing an NHL caliber player.

    I wish him well in the KHL.

    • I think the die was cast by the time the deadline rolled around. At that point the coaching staff had more or less decided he was a marginal ES contributor and I didn’t see the last 2 or 3 weeks of games changing that view, nor his impression of the team and league.

      So my bet was always he wasn’t returning, either because he’d sign somewhere else in the league or return to europe. That’s why I’d prefer a return, even something as marginal as a 4th rounder.

      For all I know they shopped him and didn’t find any takers, of course, which is entirely possible.

      • T&A4Flames

        I think the reasons you’ve listed for why Cervenka didn’t pan out is why he wasn’t traded.

        A defensively unreliable, timid player is not somebody you want to ice in the playoffs.

        • Sure. Sometimes GMs can be convinced it’ll be different on their team though, plus he certainly had some offensive skill. Sometimes you can get guys to gamble on players like that.

          Hell Jarred Smithson was traded for a 4th rounder at the deadline and he’s terrible.

          • T&A4Flames

            Maybe Feaster forgot to call Tambellini? That Smithson trade really is baffling. Too bad the Oilers fired Tambellini…

            Kent – If I recall you were one of the voices of reason, trying to temper expectations way back last summer…. But most people had crazy Jagr’esque expectations for Roman, probably due to Feaster’s ridiculous tire pumping…

            I for one am happy Roman is gone. I felt it was a doomed experiment from day 1, and I hated that people kept pinning so much hope on him. My problem wasn’t with Roman himself, but with the entire concept of a parachute top 6 miracle player to save the organization from having to draft and develop their own talent. People have no patience and are looking for instant gratification. Its wishing thinking and a crutch that just enables mgmt to keep kicking the can down the road without addressing the real issues.

            On a macro scale I think the Cervenka experiment reinforces that there are no shortcuts to acquiring and developing players. I actually appreciate some of these hail mary moves (including the RoR saga included – waiver rule screw up aside). But I feel like mgmt and fans alike are pinning the future turnaround of the team on these creative wacky moves in an attempt to avoid a slow methodical rebuild. This team needs to quit looking for hail mary UFA signings, obscure KHL players, offer sheets and other high risk tactics and more at developing and adding to the team the old fashion way that actual works. Draft, develop, retain. Repeat.

          • Well said.

            The team was down to hail mary’s at that point in their life cycle given how barren their prospects were, unfortunately. A near decade of league-worst drafting and developing coupled with “deficit spending” (ie; consistently trading picks for immediate help) hollowed the club out.

          • RexLibris

            Technically the Flames haven’t had league-worst drafting over the past decade.

            That honour belongs to the Lightning. As lead by Mr. Feaster himself.

            Between 1996 and 2006 the Flames actually had a slightly better rate of drafting success than the Oilers. Of course, that is the Kevin Prendergast era, so faint praise.

          • RexLibris

            Looking at players who managed 200+ NHL games, regardless of draft ranking. I’ve got a table of every draft pick made by every team between 1996 and 2006 finished up and am putting the finishing touches on the article now.

            I’ll try to expand it to 2008 this month to factor in the more recent drafts, but whereas the league average over that period was around 18.5%, the Flames were somewhere around 16% while Edmonton was approximately 15%.

            Tampa Bay was at 7%. The worst team in the league at drafting by a country mile.

            The Flames’ suffered because their 1st round picks failed at a higher than normal rate and Sutter kept trading youth for experience out of the support players. At the same time they failed to develop anybody to add to their top six.

            The worst draft in recent Flames record was 2006 where Leland Irving was the only NHL player of note to be selected. And given the kind of player he’s become that tells you a great deal about how bad that year was. That it followed closely on the heels of the second-worst draft year for the Flames, 2005, only served to compound the problem.

            From everything I’ve found looking at teams that have rebuilt, a catastrophic draft year usually results in a dramatic collapse in the standings approximately five to six years later. The Flames essentially delayed that collapse by a year due to the outstanding performances from Kiprusoff and Iginla, both of whom hid a mountain of organizational weaknesses, which you’ve documented very well.

          • TheRealPoc


            Semi related to this topic. As an Oiler fan/follower do you think their rebuild is way off the rails or about on track, or somewhere in between. Of course I’m sure you agree management has bungled it a bit. At least that would appear to be the consensus from both inside and outside Edmonton. But I’m not sure what the logically analysis says. Around here everyone loves to point and say its already failed miserably and just laugh and say the Oilers still suck….

            But I’m wondering if from a very high level, 5-7 year timeline you feel its working? Will work? Has worked?

            I ask because you mention a catastrophic draft year results in a dramatic collapse 5-6 years later. I’m assuming that means it takes 5-6 years to really feel the impact of drafting and developing on the positive side as well? Or is that too much of a generalization…. I’m really curious from our perspective because I’ve been advocating an Oiler style slow and ‘proper’ rebuild through drafting and patience (hate to use the word ‘proper’… perhaps traditional is a better term). I get killed in these forums for it. Most people want to try and fast track things, retool, speed it up, not suck like Edmonton etc. Then everyone points to the Oiler as evidence of a failed rebuild through the draft.

            Personally I feel the Oilers are maybe slightly off the rails, but given the timelines to develop their superstars (Hall, RNH, Yakupov) it appears they are about where they should be and poised to make dramatic moves the next 2 years (maybe slightly struggling again this year).

            I’m curious to know you thoughts Rex.. Thanks

          • BurningSensation

            Re: Oilers rebuild

            A few things;

            – It wasn’t a rebuild until they bombed out two years in a row. The Oil had been ‘whale hunting’ for guys like Nylander and Heatley to compliment Khabiboulin, until reality smacked them in the face. Twice.

            – If you look at the Oiler’s mgt perspective once they actually commit to the rebuild (Post Nuge), the moves they have made make sense (signing Schultz, re-signing Smid, etc).

            – Because they have only been in the rebuild phase a short amount of time there are gaps and holes all over the roster that need to be addressed. In particular; the defense is borderline atrocious and at a minimum they need two vets preferrably in their early prime – at least one of whom has to be able to walk the line on the powerplay , Dubnyk isn’t Patrick Roy 2.0 and could use a cheap vet who can mentor him if he really is your #1, 2nd line center is a screaming void behind The Nuge (a guy whose shoulders now make popcorn sounds), Gagner and Hemsky aren’t good fits, any checking line with Ryan Smyth is old and expensive and can’t reliably check anyone, etc.

            Given the short period of actually being committed to a rebuild the Oil are doing fine. However because the perspective of the outsider (and some insiders) is that the rebuild is supposed to be further along than simply ‘Post-Nuge’, a lack of progress may cause the fanbase to get their pitchforks.

          • RexLibris

            “If you look at the Oiler’s mgt perspective once they actually commit to the rebuild (Post Nuge), the moves they have made make sense (signing Schultz, re-signing Smid, etc)”

            Re: commitment to the rebuild

            You mean the management’s change of approach? Because the rebuild began in January of 2010, whereas Smid was re-signed this year. Or are you arguing that the rebuild has taken place since the drafting of Nugent-Hopkins in 2011? I’m not clear on the timeline you are using here.

            I would say Tambellini’s approach between Jan. 2010 and up until the trade deadline were very much in keeping with a conservative rebuilding approach.

          • RexLibris

            The rebuild is neither right on plan nor off the rails.

            Critics, both in Edmonton and outside, often forget just how very little the franchise had by way of talent and prospects. Rob Schremp was the great offensive hope of the team, need I say more?

            The Oilers have benefited in the following ways, during the years that they finished at the bottom of the league there were clear offensive forwards available in neat succession, LW – C – RW. They also lucked out in getting Eberle 22nd overall in 2008 and having some depth in the Paajarvi pick at 10th in 2009.

            They had virtually no defensive prospects outside of Smid and Petry and veterans who were past their peak or were graduating into support-player territory.

            Where the Oilers have not benefited during this rebuild is in the lack of any generational talents at the draft (Stamkos, Crosby, Ovechkin, etc) and the inability to find any decent supporting players.

            Tambellini’s conservatism preserved many of the high picks, but also cost the team some depth.

            Robertson Davies once said that Canada was not so much a country one loved as a country one worried over. In some respects the Oilers elicit the same reaction.

            I am concerned over the reaction of management and that they will make rash decisions in order to race back to the middle of the pack. At the same time, the status quo is clearly not acceptable.

            How they finished this year is almost exactly where I had them pegged. Bottom 10 with a brief flirtation with the playoffs. They can’t run with the big boys yet, but they have the basic pieces. Some development and depth additions and they should be finishing in the Detroit to Phoenix range next season.

            By no means has this rebuild failed, and that narrative that is often thrown around (“for every Pittsburgh there is a Columbus or an Islanders out there”) has been put aside for the time being.

            No two rebuilds are the same and anyone who sets out to do it exactly like team A or team B is almost guaranteed to fail.

            For the Flames, patience is absolutely necessary, and an acceptance that pride must be put aside for a time while management tends to their structural issues. Accept being bad, but take the time to correct a dysfunctional organization that has spent more than a generation trying to outrun its fate.

            With regards to the draft, the Oilers royally soiled the sheets in 1990 (not a single selection went on to play even one NHL game). By 1994 they were drafting 4th overall behind some legendarily bad teams. It isn’t a concrete rule, as sometimes a team can outspend fate for a time, but in the Flames’ case, the Wideman and Hudler signings have likely only forestalled the inevitable.

          • RexLibris

            It has, but in order to provide enough data, and using the five year embargo as a rule, starting in 2003 would only give you a small window. And many of the scouting groups were more or less the same pre and post lockout.

            The exercise was meant to tease out the truth from the common narrative about some teams being better or worse at the draft and what the actual rate of success is.

            As fans we want to believe that every exciting prospect in any given year is likely to become the next folk hero or star of the team. This helps to temper those expectations with real historical results.

          • supra steve

            I, personally, have a tough time giving Feaster credit for the Flames recent draft record. All I think he has done is to give the final choice on all picks to his scouting dept, so I guess I do give him credit for that.

            As for his record in Tampa, I can only hope he learned from any errors he may have made while there.

          • SmellOfVictory

            That’s the thing: Feaster has never claimed to be a hockey guy, per se. He’s a manager first and foremost, and he relies very heavily on his group. In Tampa he apparently had a crap group of scouts, while he’s got what appears to be a solid group in Calgary – additionally, Weisbrod, who I think is heading up most of the hockey side of the decision making (ownership/King notwithstanding) appears to be quite good. For the most part.

          • BurningSensation

            “On a macro scale I think the Cervenka experiment reinforces that there are no shortcuts to acquiring and developing players. I actually appreciate some of these hail mary moves (including the RoR saga included – waiver rule screw up aside). But I feel like mgmt and fans alike are pinning the future turnaround of the team on these creative wacky moves in an attempt to avoid a slow methodical rebuild. This team needs to quit looking for hail mary UFA signings, obscure KHL players, offer sheets and other high risk tactics and more at developing and adding to the team the old fashion way that actual works. Draft, develop, retain. Repeat.”

            The pieces of the ‘slow-methodical rebuild’ are already taking shape. The import of young prospects via trade, the extra draft picks Feaster accumulated, etc.

            But I see absolutely no problem with fishing for solid players in foreign leagues, RFA offer sheets, College FA signings, or UFA signings, etc. Those all legitimate methods for procuring talent.

            A few years back three teams fished in Scandinavian leagues for top-end scorers; Detroit (Ville Leino), Dallas (Fabian Brunnstron) and Pitsburgh (Janne Pesonen). These guys cost nothing to sign and in the case of Leino actually produced an NHL calibre player.

            Detroit (who has a knack for this) signed Damien Brunner last year, and he has been an unqualified success for them in that he outperformed the ‘draft, develop, repeat’ guys like Jarnkrok, Jurco, and Nyqvist. In short they found a guy capable of producing better than their own farm system – for nothing but the cost of his contract.

            Unlike you I want Feaster scouring every corner of the globe for a guy who can help our team, and I want him taking risks so long as they (like the Cervenka signing) are reasonable ones to take.

            The one place we can agree is that Feaster (or Conroy or Weisbrod) shouldn’t make one of these signings out to be an instant fix. They aren’t.

          • everton fc

            I think I didn’t explain myself properly. I appreciate the swing for the fences crazy wild GM stuff. I have zero problem with creativity. My problem is that I feel like mgmt and fans alike have looked for these type of things to save the team and avoid a rebuild.

            Its not always the right time to do these type of things. I’m not convinced we are the point in the rebuild where mgmt should be swinging for the fences unless it really is zero risk. And that includes not taking up a roster spot or pushing prospects down the depth chart at the expense of some instant gratification.

          • everton fc

            Well said and I agree 100%

            On another note: How many teams are calling the Leafs right now about Reimer and Gardiner?

            They overachieved all season and when it ended it ended in spectacular fashion. Perhaps Carlyle should’ve instructed his charges to leave their own zone once or twice during the final half of the 3rd.

          • BurningSensation

            Given the kind of players we have had eating up roster spots (Dany Taylor, Irving, etc.) I think the risk is vanishingly small in signing a Euro scoring star to see if he can play in the big leagues.

            I also don’t see how it delays the rebuild in any way. One of the issues that the Oilers have (and they have many) is that outside of their big 5 they have few other actual NHL players worth playing on a nightly basis (especially at D).

            Calgary actually has a decent roster, what it lacks is the up and coming talent to compliment it (thanks Darryl Sutter!).

            Feaster has two projects running simultaneously, rebuild the farm system (still a work in progress, but we are already seeing a difference with Sven, Johnny G, and others starting to arrive), and part 2, rebuilding the active roster in anticipation of the kids arrival. That second part means pruning older players unlikely to be here when the team is pushing again, but also, adding in players who are at the right age who may not be superstars, but who can play.

            Cervenka would have fit that bill to a T, being the right age, and a possible complimentary piece.

          • BurningSensation

            Absolutely, you scour everywhere and hope you can find players who will help. Brunner has been a very solid addition for Detroit and at 27, he not only is a solid player but gives players like Jarnkroc and Jurco more time to mature and develop.

          • please cancel acct

            Jager’esque expectations? You gotta be kidding.I;LL call your bluff on this .Who on this site thought Cervanka was a Jagr twin? Or for that matter anywhere close?

          • RexLibris

            I think the Jagr comment is in reference to what he said about Cervenka at the time of the signing, combined with Feaster’s own hyperbole about the player being the best player outside of the NHL and a 1st or 2nd line center.

            I was posting often on that article thread and was critical of the signing because of the heavy wagers placed by the club on the player (not the financial exposure or term) and much of the optimism surrounding Cervenka’s signing was in line with Kurt’s take.

            The signing was a decent one for any team to make, but just as the Oilers are guilty of leaning too much on Justin Schultz, the Flames management set expectations far too high for Cervenka. Given Hartlety’s reluctance to dress the player as well it suggests there may be a disconnect in communication.

          • BurningSensation

            “The signing was a decent one for any team to make, but just as the Oilers are guilty of leaning too much on Justin Schultz, the Flames management set expectations far too high for Cervenka. Given Hartlety’s reluctance to dress the player as well it suggests there may be a disconnect in communication.”

            I don’t see the disappointment with Cervenka as being all that big. Right from the start we knew we were taking a free swing at a possible top 6 guy, but also that there was no guarantee he was going to be an impact player. Of course the Flames hoped he might fill a top line position. They just signed a coveted FA pivot of the right age and skillset, and I think they were rightly excited what he might be.

            Between; the lock-out, the blood clot thing, his being out of shape to start the year, Hartley’s lack of faith, etc. there are lots of reasons why Cervenka didn’t succeed that I would point to before I get to ‘expectations set too high’.

            As for Hartley not playing him, I put that on Hartley. Feaster obviously didn’t tell Hartley he MUST PLAY Cervenka, or he likely would have. On the contrary, I think Feaster leaves the coaching decisions to his coach.

          • supra steve

            “I think Feaster leaves the coaching decisions to his coach.”

            I agree, but wish he would communicate more with coaches on player personnel issues. May help prevent the next Babchuk/Sarich type signing, or at very least advise not pursuing these players quite so aggressively–as in offer them less term, less money, and cool it with handing out the NTC.

  • piscera.infada

    it was doomed to fail. on the plus side, it didn’t cost us any asset to sign him, and he didn’t take away a roster spot from anybody.

    on the hockey side, we didn’t ante up anything, so nothing was lost. on the financial side, edwards could have saved 500k playing a replacement level player, if we actually have any…

  • T&A4Flames

    How come we haven’t heard anything re: Karri Ramo signing? It’s well past the date that CGY was allowed to start negotiations. I’m starting to get a little nervous.

    Good low risk signing with Cervenka. I maintain he may have had a better season with a full camp and recovery to his health issues. But, it won’t hurt us so good luck Roman.

        • supra steve

          Sorry if this has been answered a million times already, but where does our St. Louis pick land now? I’m confused with how it works… I’ve seen #s ranging from 19th to 23rd. Does it matter how any of the remaining playoff matchups end up?

          Does anyone know for certain?

          Can teams sign their own UFAs to extensions during the playoffs?

          • Sorry if this has been answered a million times already, but where does our St. Louis pick land now? I’m confused with how it works… I’ve seen #s ranging from 19th to 23rd. Does it matter how any of the remaining playoff matchups end up?

            I may try to sit down and figure this out so I can publish the answer. It’s rather complicated.

          • supra steve

            StL pick is currently no worse then #22 overall. It could increase by as much as 3 spots to as high as #19. One spot up for 2nd round playoff losses by any/each of BOS CHI and PIT.

  • everton fc

    Completely off topic, but this off the CBC web page regarding Maple Leaf collapse post mortem made me laugh:

    It seems three different players have been blamed. Goalie James Reimer couldn’t control rebounds. Mikhail Grabovski committed a turnover. So did young defenceman Jake Gardiner.

    That had to have come directly from Randy Carlyle!

  • BurningSensation

    Meh, you win some you lose some. Didn’t cost the Flames anything except dollars to bring him over here, so it was still a worthwhile experiment.

    I don’t think many were expecting him to be an actual first line center. Personally, I thought he might score 50 points (over a full season) playing with Iggy on the 1st and getting PP time. Based on this year, Cervenka would’ve had around 35 points in an 82 game schedule.

    1 year contract, no risk attached. It didn’t pan out. I still like Feasters thinking on this one, so I’ll give him a B- for the Cervenka signing.

  • The Last Big Bear

    I’d be making all kinds of low-ball offers for Grabovsky if I was Feaster.
    Heck, maybe Gardiner and Reimer too.
    And I hate the Leafs.
    But buy low, you know what I’m saying?

    • The Last Big Bear

      reimer and gartner are not in any fashion in the doghouse, grabo is taking some heat from certain media slugs but his contract may well be an albatross 5.5 for 4 more years. feasta may want to dangle a carrot in front of clarke macarthur park, and tyler bozak. both are ufa s and frankly the leafs may either buyout grabo, komisarek and liles. bozak will be looking for a raise and if the leafs pursue ribeiro count bozak out.

      if i was the feasty boyz i would inquire about matt finn, jesse blacker and colbourne as well as carter ashton.

  • BurningSensation

    Meh. Too bad, would have liked to see him healthy out of the gate & a solid training camp. Just didn’t seem Hartley warmed to him from the get go & there wasn’t time to be patient in a shortened season.

    Many of us had hoped he would come in & play like a great solid young talent. Cant fault us for being so thirsty for a new young star, we drink the sand if we thought that’s what it would be. We may be in for the same Cerevenka syndrome with Ramo & Berra. Heaven help Feaster if his best goalies outside the NHL fall flat after his best centre outside the NHL has gone running home. Oh well, maybe I’ll just get Kurt to wake me up in 3 years when we are nearing the end of our 3 year old fashioned rebuild.

  • RKD

    Not surprised, he put up good numbers in a league where contact is minimum. It was Jagr who made Cervenka better and not vice versa. A great player is one who makes not only himself better but others around him.

    This experiment by Feaster failed, didn’t he say Cervenka was “the best player not playing in the NHL.” Going overseas to find a guy to fill a center position on your team is a bad idea.

    Cervenka has some offensive creativity but he shied away from physical play and was inconsistent. He had chemistry with Hudler but he’s a guy better suited to be on a team like Detroit, not Calgary.

    Best of luck to him in the KHL, I’m sure he’ll score a few more washers!

  • icedawg_42

    Meh. Buh-bye Cervenka. I was rooting for him to become something, but continually noted that he was completely unwilling to go to hard areas, mix it up and get dirty to score goals. Undeniably has some individual talents, but I think from quite early on you could see this exact scenario playing out. No surprises here. Best of luck in the KHL.