A closer look at Adam Ruzicka

The Flames didn’t have many draft picks at the 2017 draft, so they had to make them count.

Adam Ruzicka is one of the late round picks that could certainly be a high value payoff, though his projections are all over the place. When CanucksArmy looked at him for our Nation-wide prospect profiles, Ruzicka’s season had 90% or more similarity to players like Ron Francis (great), Todd Bertuzzi (pretty good), Bryan Bickell (okay), Scott Thornton (ehhh), and Mike Blunden and Nikita Alexeyev (who?).

That’s a pretty wide net to cast, but it echoes his entire draft year experience. He initially had hype as a potential lottery pick. Then they tempered that to first rounder. Then reeled back to second rounder. And then he was forgotten about until the fourth round.

So let’s dig in and see what exactly Ruzicka is and what we can expect from him next season.

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Relative to team

Ruzicka finished fourth in scoring on his team, which is pretty good in and of itself (if you ignore that he still only tallied 46 points in 61 games). It’s even better when you learn that he finished seventh on the Sting in estimated 5v5 time on ice.

All stats from prospect-stats.

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Relative to the top six Ruzicka averaged nearly one less minute than the rest of his teammates but had some pretty strong results nonetheless. He finished second in shots/60 and third in goals/60. He struggled in the assists department (not displayed on the chart for clarity purposes: sixth in primary assists/60, sixth in total assists/60), which dragged down his points/60 metric. Looking back on past career results, he has often been a goal scorer first and a playmaker second, so perhaps these results are not that surprising, although they are still something that requires work.

This is not to say that Ruzicka is not a great primary point producer, just that the majority of them come from goals. He still had good results at 5v5 and all situations when it came to primary points versus points. He only had nine secondary assists of 21 total this past year. Again, assist generation and general point volume are areas of improvement, but there are no major red flags when looking at Ruzicka (such as reliance on PP points and secondary assists) that give us the impression that he’s being dragged along by his team. He was up there with his teammates, who were across the board older and more experienced in the OHL than Ruzicka.

Relative to draft class

As the 17th OHL forward drafted, Ruzicka was perceived as one of the less quality OHLers, but diving into the data perhaps reveals something else:

Category AS value AS rank (/87) 5v5 value 5v5 Rank
G/GP 0.41 9th 0.3 11th
A1/GP 0.2 24th 0.13 T-29th
P1/GP 0.61 10th 0.43 16th
P/GP 0.75 17th 0.54 16th
SOG/GP 2.8 7th 2.05 10th

Ruzicka isn’t at the highest end of the OHL’s crop this year, but he is still up there. He did finish top 10 in all situations for shots and goals, and finished just on the cusp of the top 10 for those stats at 5v5.

However, those numbers drop slightly at 5v5, and perhaps that’s due to ice time again. Adjusting for ice time (at 5v5) does put Ruzicka in a better light.

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Category Value Rank (/87)
eG/60 1.29 T-8th
eA1/60 0.57 36th
eP1/60 1.87 14th
eP/60 2.37 10th
eSOG/60 8.97 12th

A lot of the same positives and negatives arise. Given that he saw way less ice time than most of his peers, his numbers dipped, but adjusting them allows us to be optimistic. He ranks top 10 in estimated goals and points per 60, and comes very close in primary points/60 and shots on goal/60. Of course, primary assists is the area of concern, where he nearly finds himself on the bottom half among first time eligibles.

There’s two conclusions to make. First, that Ruzicka is certainly a much better player than many would give him credit for. He’s not the best of the bunch in the OHL, but he’s certainly trending in the right direction. However, the one problem is his weakness with regards to primary assists. Ruzicka is lacking in that department, and it’s probably one of the major reasons he dropped down the draft rankings.

The future

The majority of the data points to Ruzicka only being useful at one facet of offence, which is a negative. Pure goalscoring types typically have a hard time reaching the NHL unless strides are taken.

But he had quite a few asterisks attached to his stat line: North American rookie, middle sixer, young. All of those warts were visible at some time or another during the season; he started his year off with five points in three games and then went scoreless for the next seven games. Inconsistency plagued him throughout, and his stock plummeted. He’s admitted so himself.

We’re willing to wash that away and watch and see if the projected first rounder Ruzicka breaks out again. Next year is the big step forward. Sarnia’s centre competition will be tough, as he’ll duke it out with Drake Rymsha for that number one spot. I give Ruzicka the initial advantage based on 2016-17 results, but only time will tell. There are some very promising metrics from the past season that point to him having a major breakout this year.

But the improvement needs to be all around. Some of his critics note the one dimensional aspects to his game, and the stats verify those claims. If he can expand and become an all around playmaking centre for the Sting (alternatively, put up enough goals to make us forget about it), we’ll put out worries aside.

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Spencer Foo | Juuso Valimaki

  • Fan the Flames

    6’4″ and 204 lbs , 18yrs old and the ability to score . Looking at the highlights from the development camp he looks like he can skate . The knock appears to be his defensive play which can be coached and he may have some consistency issues . He will be back in Sarnia next year so we will be watching closely I for one think this kid might be a real possibility given some careful development.

  • Just.Visiting

    Given what Anaheim has done to us consistently, I was hoping that the Flames could add a big, strong offensive centre. Going into the draft, Rasmussen seemed intriguing. Ruzicka seem like a really smart choice for where he was added. He’s big, strong and has great hands. Perhaps the exposure to pros and a better sense of what it takes will help him enhance his consistency. If it does, he could be a real find.

  • The GREAT WW

    Great pick at #109!
    When we trade away our first, second and third round picks, it is imperative that these type of high potential players fall in our lap in the later rounds….


    • L.Kolkind

      I’ve been agreeing with you too much lately, am I becoming more cynical? I think us agreeing that going for the “win now” strategy shows just how bad of a strategy it is. Selling the future for a bunch of players who just came off their worst seasons, sounds like a bad idea. When you look these players up and see that they are all below replacement level, it starts to really seem like a bad idea.

      He could’ve traded all those picks and gotten 1 star player, instead, he traded all those picks and got a bunch of mediocre players, that all need to turn around their careers. Smith doesn’t need to turn his career around though, because he is set for retirement. Which to me is even worse because we just traded away a 2nd and Hickey and the best we can hope for is 2 seasons of average goaltending. With last years 2nd we got Parsons and are hoping for a career of amazing goaltending, that’s how draft picks are supposed to be used.

      • Puckhead

        The alternative would be to sit tight, draft more prospects, and wait and wait….

        Smith was a great addition and gives the goalie prospects a few more seasons to prepare.

        Hickey would be about 5th on the D depth chart and wasn’t going anywhere on this team.

        Any potential repercussions of trading away picks this year won’t be felt for 5 or 6 years, and I expect Tre will restock the prospect pool as players are gradually traded, free agents are acquired … overall it’s a young team and we should be set to compete for a number of years

        Go ? Go!!!

        • The GREAT WW

          That first rounder next year that we traded away could really come back to hurt us.
          Is it even lottery protected?
          With Hamilton at least we knew what we were giving up.
          And Hamilton is a much better player than Hamonic….


          • Puckhead

            I don’t think you can draw comparisons to the Hamilton deal. We got extremely lucky with that one. GM’s are getting a lot more shrewd and it’s getting more difficult to trade for a home run. If Hamonic solidifies the second line and the team makes some noise at playoff time it will be a success. Like Smith, Hamonic will do fine and his acquisition buys us time to gradually bring in our great D prospects. Our D core should be set for a long time.

          • Newbietwo

            Forgot your pills again this morning? Yea right a first round pick in the range of say 23 to 31 is really going to hurt us so badly down the road hahahaha. Shinkaruk.poirier, klimchuk late first rounders!!!

            Now stop crying until you see what we get when we trade away Stone in 2 years..

          • Kevin R

            WW, you honestly think this team is a lottery team??? Geez I’ll bet money now that they aren’t. You think a mid round pick is so much to give away the flames future is bleak?? I don’t think you realize that by allocating cap space on Stone & Hamonic is going to allow your favourite coach to be able to properly shelter lines. Think about it, Smid 3.5, Wideman 5.25 & Engellend 3.0 represent almost double the cap that we were able to allocate over to Stone & Hamonic & we are infinitely better right through to the 3rd pairing. This will also allow us to give Kulak a regular shift. Stone, Brodie & Hamonic all have 3 years left on their deals. By the end of 2 years, we will recoup some of these draft picks you are anguishing about. Then when you are able to land a Foo, when in reality, if Foo were to go into the draft next year, I would bet he would be a late 1st rounder. RW to boot.

          • GER

            Hi guys, first time posting here, I think for the addition of Hamonic, it might let Brodie be himself….last year I felt that Brodie was playing at the level that he displayed from previous years. With two solid def lines, we will do much better with diff matchups. Therefore, if Hamonic have an avg season, as long as he fits in with Brodie, I think it’ll be worth our picks that we gave away. Ok I am done, pls don’t trash me 🙂

          • Puckhead

            Translation of translation: Tre has done a great job of improving his team with lots of good prospects in the wheelhouse. I wish Chia would do something, especially on D where we are not good enough to compete with the good teams.

      • Newbietwo

        Ok big shot why don’t you tell us all which goalie as a proven number 1 you would have traded for and at what acquisition cost? Come on I wanna hear? Smith has top ten numbers on one of the three worst teams in the league and the guy is built and he has a want to win attitude but not let’s hear your masterful mind.. Fluery? He didn’t want to come to Calgary, bishop who’s and average 1a also didn’t.. NJ? They wanted Johnny for a goalie, I’m not talking about your legs to sign yet another unproven 1a goalie I’m talking about proven and legit..

        Bet you can’t yet you spent 500 words for nothing

        • JoelOttosJock

          Steve Mason would have been a better pick up. As would have Raanta, i would have even rathered going after Cam Ward in Carolina. I do not like Smith at all. He is too inconsistent. Too old. My thoughts..not yours pal. I would have even preferred to resign Elliot. Or even Bernier. Treliving should have left the Arizona garbage in Arizona.

          • Puckhead

            It’s the old “should I have turned left or should I have turned right” argument. What’s done is done and we entrust that Tre is leading us down the right path.

            I don’t know how Flames fans can argue that he made the wrong moves when the season hasn’t started yet. I prefer to take the optimistic path that things will click and the team is in for a great season.

            Go ? Go!!!

  • McRib

    The only pick I haven’t really liked the last three years from the Flames was the Zach Fischer pick this year, because I would have preferred a much younger player like a Brett Davis in Kootenay.

    Outside of that BT has made every single pick count for three years, after the shackles were taken off by Burke following his first draft back in 2014.

    It’s great to have a scouting staff now that drafts players with tangible physical skills, rather than drafting “upside” shot in the dark prospects of past regimes.

    • McRib

      Fischer impressed me though at development camp with the increased pace. He’ll be an AHLer like an Austin Carroll, even the few picks I don’t love of BTs lately are still solid picks, but I thought a Brett Davis had more upside. The Ruzicka and Joly picks were fantastic value.

  • Puckhead

    At the Development Camp Ruzicka was noticeable because he was physically involved and looked comfortable playing along the boards. I recall a few sequences where it took a couple guys to squeeze him out to get the puck. He could be a sleeper.

    • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

      You say how can people say he made the wrong moves when they haven’t played a game yet,but here you are saying he made all the right moves without even playing a game.Saying they are the best d without playing a game.People are going on last years performance from Stone ,Hamonic and on paper they were at the bottom of the league in fancy stats.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Slightly off topic….should we be concerned Tuolola was rather pedestrian at the most recent rookie camp after lighting it up in his first camp. I know he had a decent season in a very defensive system at Everett… But he followed that up with a strong playoffs.

    • Puckhead

      No, he is headed back to play in Europe this season I believe. The guy probably has a lot on his mind. Probably wise to cut him a bit of slack and see where he’s at a year from now.

    • freethe flames

      Just like we should have not read to much into his development camp last year we should not read to much into this year. From my perspective none of the forwards stood out this year in the same way he and Janko did last year.

      • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

        Actually I don’t think Adam is Vladimir’s son. I tried to look for the connection but couldn’t find anything saying such. However,Vladimir is the son of former Oiler Vladimir Ruzicka.