Flames Top 15 Prospects 2013: #4 Roman Horak

Roman Horak Flames

By Resolute (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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You probably fall under one of two schools of thought when faced with the news that Flames forward Roman Horak checks in all the way at number 4 in the top 15 Prospect list:

A) It’s a sad prospect pool if Roman Horak is your fourth best prospect,


B) Roman Horak has already gone above and beyond anything ever expected of him since being acquired as mostly a throw-in tied to the Tim Erixon trade, and basically anything he’s provided to this point has been pure, unadulterated added value.

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The truth, quite likely, is that Horak slots in somewhere in the middle of these two camps, but I love this dude, so I’m focusing heavily on a Team B perspective here.

  Justin Ryan Kent Hayley BoL
Horak 3 6 6 4 4

The České Budějovice product has 81 games of NHL experience and 73 AHL contests under his belt, and it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Horak over this relatively short timeframe. After beating all the odds and making the Flames out of training camp 2 Septembers ago, Horak has become a fan favourite (I guess) for his work ethic, attitude, and for the fact that he already has more big league experience than noted jerk, Tim Erixon, of whom Horak was traded for (along with other Flames Top 15 prospects, Tyler Wotherspoon and Markus Granlund)

Having never thought of as being much of an offensive force during his junior days with the Chilliwack Bruins (heh, Chilliwack), the Opening Day roster spot was shocking, if not completely outside of the Flames’ wheelhouse. Perhaps, because of this, some undue expectations were placed upon the youngster, and as you might expect, he didn’t quite live up to them. He HAS scored 5 goals and 18 points at the NHL level, nothing to write home about, but to place the burden of scoring goals upon the center was misguided to begin with.

Horak is destined to play the role of a 3rd or 4th line pivot, and if given the opportunity to do so, can be quite effective at it. Taking most of his draws in the defensive zone – with far more ice time than he’s been given in the past, no less – it’s apparent the coaching staff is trying to carve out his niche as a two way forward. Certainly the Flames have relied on him in defensively heavier assignments, and for better or worse, he’s taken the opportunity and ran with it.

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Unless he got injured, or the coaching staff thought dressing Brian McGrattan for 3 minutes a game was a better strategy, something that happened FAR MORE OFTEN than it ever should have, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today.

At the AHL level, Horak has developed quite nicely, scoring 16 goals and 30 points with the Baby Flames in Abbotsford this past season. That gives Roman an NHLE of roughly 18, suggesting there’s a bit of third line pop in that stick yet to come, but again, let’s not put the cart before the Czech horse here. Horak is not on the ice to score goals at the pro level, he’s largely there to limit them.


With a now gutted Flames forward core, and a seemingly apparent desire to let the kids get some time with the big club, it’s a safe bet to assume that Roman Horak will be given every chance to play regular minutes with your Calgary Flames as the puck drops on the 2013-14 season. He’s likely to find his niche, if he develops properly, pivoting the third line and maybe earning some PK time if he proves he’s got the vision for it.

But don’t be too surprised if a sudden influx of depth to the Flames roster (I don’t know FROM WHERE, this is hypothetical, jerks) bumps the kid back down to Abbotsford for some more polishing, which admittedly wouldn’t be the worst thing for him (he’s been a better player for Calgary after successive recalls in the past).

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Whatever the development arc for Horak ends up being, we should be proud of the fact that the kid has already surpassed expectations, and given that relative surprise, perhaps we shouldn’t be left too dumbfounded if the kid manages to exceed expectations further as time goes on.

Just don’t hold your breath waiting for it, and appreciate what he brings to the table now, because it’s important in it’s own right.

Finally, go to hell, Tim Erixon. I hope you get addicted to something terrible.

Flames Top-15 Prospects

  • MC Hockey

    I want to like Horak more then I do. I have to keep reminding myself he is only 22.

    He just seems like he lacks the FO ability and size to be a great 3 line shutdown C, but he also lacks the offensive ability to be a top 6 forward.

    I hope to be proven wrong. I just think he is going to flicker out before becoming a legitimate NHLer.

  • Parallex

    I kind of get a Dustin Boyd feeling off of Horak. Take that as a positive or a negative depending on how you felt about Dustin Boyd.

    I think Horak’s future in the NHL will ultimately depend on whether he’s part of a team where the coach and GM don’t consider “face-punching” to be an integral skill for everyone on the fourth line to have.

    • “I kind of get a Dustin Boyd feeling off of Horak. Take that as a positive or a negative depending on how you felt about Dustin Boyd.”

      – I was saying the same thing to myself yesterday re: Horak.

      I’m in the A) boat when it comes to this list.

      Horak 4 and Arnold 6? Sad state of affairs in Cowtown.

      • RexLibris

        Just think after this draft our prospect pool will get a substantial boon.

        Think even futher before the last two drafts and then think about how much sadder it was back then.

        Progress is being made, we are becoming respectable in the prospect department throughtout the league.

        RE: Horak – He played with more confidence at the end of the year and he has good puck skills, he looks better on the right wing, his hockey smarts surpises me somethimes.

        He will be in the NHL in some capacity, most likey a player in the mold of Frolik.

  • please cancel acct

    I don’t think the 3rd/4th line suit his skillset. I still think he’ll get bigger and stronger and improve his skill enough for a shot on the 2nd line. He was able to bulk up a bit last year and it definitely showed in his game. He wasn’t being pushed off the puck as easily.

    Does’nt have enough goon in his game to suit Hartley though, so I can see him being moved

  • everton fc

    Horak should have been left with Stempniak. A line of Tanguay/Horak/Stempniak would produce.

    I see Horak as a regular NHL player. Whether here, or elsewhere. I hope he gets a shot at a full season, come autumn.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I think Horak and Reinhart a very similar players. Perhaps a redundancy. Horak played well in the last few games. It is useful to have these kind of assets in relative abundance. Aside from trade bait they can slide up and down the roster.

    I think guys like these just need time to find their roles and figure out the league.

    Again, Calgary has been able to assemble attractive prospects but to date don’t have the elite talent. Trade up and draft it, Take Nichushkin if he’s available at 6, do what it takes to get the top end players.

    • s_yav14

      “I think Horak and Reinhart a very similar players. Perhaps a redundancy.”

      I don’t see that. I mean, sure, in terms of ceiling maybe, but their skillsets and playing styles are completely different. Horak, for example, is a much better skater than Reinhart, and he also seems to have an all around better offensive skillset. Reinhart is stronger, a better shooter, and a more agressive player, better at faceoffs. He probably thinks the game at a higher level than Horak too.

      Unless Horak finds a scoring touch (or Knight does) I think he’ll eventually get pushed out. I just see Reinhart (LW) and Arnold (RW) as better options for third line winger spots (largely due to the fact that they’re both great along the boards), and obviously people are generally pretty high on Knight in his ability as a center.

  • doubledown

    I think that he could be a Hudler lite in terms of offense in that he would probably generate more offense on the wing and could fill that third line wing slot to drive possession.

    I think that options like Reinhart, Knight, and Arnold will be better third line center options and I think that each of those pivots would be better off with a player like Horak on his wing.

  • Parallex

    So, random question to our Nation overlords (or in any event the folks that got to vote on this)… since it’s pretty obvious that the remaining three are Baertschi, Brodie, and Gaudreau if you’d had a crystal ball and knew that Corban Knight (praise be his name!) would become a prospect of the Flames would this be where he’s slot in or would he displace one or more of the big three?

  • s_yav14

    Well according to Patrick King from sportsnet, our pick are going to look like this:
    6. Zachary Fucale G
    22. Josh Morrissey D
    28. Chris Bigras D

    Personally i think Patrick King needs to get his head out of his ass…

    • s_yav14

      According to me, Patrick King from Sportsnet doesn’t know squat! No way in hell that Fucale is selected with the 6th pick, and from what I heard from Josh Morrissey, the Flames didn’t even interview him.

      I agree with the “head in ass” comment.

  • RexLibris

    70% A and 30% B.

    He has been a good return on the Erixon deal, albeit it would have been best had the deal not had to have been made in the first place.

    That being said, that he is this high on the prospect list tells me two things, that the list is very weak, and that the better candidates are also further away from a professional career. That gap in the prospect pipeline will have some interesting consequences for this franchise.

    • If the Flames can do some damage with their 1st rounders this year, that gap will shorten incredibly quickly IMO.

      I believe Horak will be a smart 3rd line center that can chip in with 10-15 goals a season and kill penalties.

  • Was looking forward to seeing Horak come up with the Rangers when they traded him, fortunately he went to Calgary as I root for the Flames in the western conference.

    I like Horak’s speed, he is solid defensively. Thought he would put up more points, especially after his torrid start in the AHL this year. He was really strong on faceoffs in junior and it usually takes a few years in to become good in the pros. Hopefully that happens.

    I would like to see him between Glen X and Stempniak playing tough minutes and see how he does.

  • Michael

    Currently a replacement level forward, may earn a bottom six role (Feaster did trade for him so he will get chances), just hard to get overly excited by what I’ve seen.
    Doubt he would rank anywhere in the top 5, 10 or even 15 prospect list on any other team.
    While the cupboard is no longer bare, the shelves are simply full of lower end prospects.
    Feaster needs to concentrate on quality not quantity.

    • Michael

      “Any other team?” He’d be like 3rd in Vancouver’s system and 2nd in San Jose. The Flames don’t have a good system, but they’re far from the worst in the league.