67

FlamesNation prospect wrap-up: Adam Ruzicka

Throughout his young hockey career, Adam Ruzicka has been a lot of things. He’s been a projected lottery pick, a future power forward, the hope for Slovak hockey, a projected late first, a gigantic disappointment, the potential steal of the draft, and everything in between those extremes. He has yet to turn 19.

Ruzicka has been a confusing prospect ever since he landed in the OHL last year. On some nights, he could be pure dynamite, making professional moves with ease and embarrassing those who stood in his way. On other nights, he could look the exact opposite of that. This season was no different. There were extremely positive and extremely negative stretches, making it hard to suss out the real Ruzicka.

So what do the Flames have in their most recent fourth round selection?

Background

The Slovak centreman has been a favourite of European scouts, thanks to his rapid rise through the Czech hockey system (ex: scoring a point per game in the Czech U20 league as a 16-year-old). Strong international appearances with Team Slovakia further improved his stock, and he was selected in the CHL import draft by the Sarnia Sting.

Ruzicka’s first season in the OHL didn’t exactly go as planned. Despite some significant hype, Ruzicka struggled with scoring and consistency, only picking up 46 points in 61 games. Some strong appearances with Team Slovakia helped his cause a bit, and he was drafted 104th overall to the Flames.

2017-18 story

Ruzicka started the season hot with Sarnia, placing himself alongside the OHL’s best in the opening salvo of the season. For the first few weeks he stuck around with the best of them, picking up goals like nobody’s business. Ruzicka was a key part of a Sarnia team that won 14 of its first 15 games.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. The kid burst out with 27 points in his first 15 games, but then followed it up with 10 points in the next 15. After the strong start to the season, Ruzicka slowed down with the rest of the team.

His WJC appearance was a bit of a disappointment. Slovakia wasn’t expected to do anything significant, but Ruzicka’s muted showing was discouraging. He was going cold in the OHL and it carried over in Buffalo. Although awesome, it’s a bit discouraging that this might be the only thing I remember him doing during the tournament:

Aside from that, he had two assists in five games.

The final few weeks featured a lot of the player scouts both loved and hated. Ruzicka got off the schneid, posting a couple of multi-point games, but really didn’t develop a rhythm. When he was on, he was on, but he was mostly off. He fell cold again for the OHL playoffs, where he picked up three points in 12 games.

The numbers

GP G A P Primary points 5v5 Points 5v5 Primary points NHLe
OHL 63 36 36 72 61 37 32 28.11

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All in all, Ruzicka didn’t have that bad of a season. Regardless of him crashing halfway through the season, he still was much better than last year. He also picked up a lot of primary points along the way, only scoring 11 secondary points all season. That’s pretty good, and the highest ratio of primary points to total points of all Flames CHL prospects. His nose for the net certainly helps those totals. He was Sarnia’s most productive shooter, ripping off 236 shots, good for 21st among all OHL skaters.

So nothing but positive signs, right?

Well, not necessarily. I think maybe the best way to describe Ruzicka is perhaps by calling him the anti-D’Artagnan Joly. The QMJHL winger doesn’t have numbers that jump off the page, but it’s a consequence on playing one of the Q’s worst teams. By the end of the season, Joly had been involved in just under 40% of all Baie-Comeau goals, and was the primary factor on around 32% of them.

Ruzicka, on the other hand, has a stat line that signifies good growth, but isn’t that impressive in context. The Sting were one of the OHL’s highest goal scoring teams, finishing second in all situations (296, 4.35/game) and third in 5v5 scoring (212, 3.12/game). Ruzicka was involved in 26.95% of all goals, and 18.93% of all 5v5 goals. Even considering just primary contributions, Ruzicka’s major strength, those numbers still aren’t that pretty. He was the primary contributor on 22.53% of all goals, and on 16.37% of 5v5 goals. Those are among the lowest numbers among the Flames’ CHL prospects, with only Zach Fischer falling lower than him in one category (total contributions, all situations).

That’s not that good. Ruzicka did pile up the numbers, but so did everyone else on the Sting (eight 50+ point scorers, including two defencemen, three who scored 70+, and a 100-point player). Playing on a line with Jordan Kyrou, one of the OHL’s most dynamic players this season, certainly helped him plenty.

Comparable

Methodology explained here. Ruzicka’s full data can be found here.

The major split between Ruzicka’s AS numbers and his 5v5 numbers is quite apparent when looking for comparable players. Players who had similar AS seasons found full-time NHL work at a 25.62% clip, scoring around 0.43 PPG: good middle six center numbers. Looking at 5v5 only, however, those numbers dip to 14.97% and 0.26 PPG: fourth line, borderline replacement level numbers.

The odd thing is that his stats at 17 painted a much better picture. The percentages were less certain (9% at AS, 18% at 5v5), but the PPG averages were way up (0.34 AS, 0.47 5v5). He was less reliant on powerplay scoring last year (33 5v5 points) which points to the facet of his game that needs the most improvement. He more or less ran in place at 5v5, and it shows throughout his comparables (perhaps this reinforces the criticism of his lackluster defensive play).

Of course, two OHL seasons really isn’t that much data to draw many conclusions from. “He could be good, he could not be” isn’t really meaningful analysis. Like above, he has his positives and his negatives. We’ll probably have to wait a bit to see what happens next year to get a better view of him. For now, the comparables don’t look great. Add more data and we’ll see.

The future

Ruzicka has to take a major step forward next season. No doubts about it.

Sarnia will be depleted next year. Teammates Jordan Ernst, Jonathan Ang, Kyrou, Cam Dineen, and Drake Rymsha are almost certain to move onto the pro ranks, with the potential of Anthony Salinitri and Michael Pezzetta joining them. That’s a 100+ point scorer, two 70+ point scorers, a 60-point d-man, and three 50+ scorers all potentially leaving.

It’s going to be Ruzicka’s team, and he really has to own that role. He can’t coast to success playing a secondary role for the club, he has to be the driver. He has a knack for primary offence, but that’s likely to start drying up as his teammates depart, which is suboptimal.

There’s still time to right the ship, however. Not every prospect will be a stud just a year after being drafted, and Ruzicka has a lot of positives in his favour. Even though he had his ugly moments this year, there was still plenty of good to look at. If it takes another year for him to develop those skills, well, that’s exactly why we have the CHL. There’s no rush and plenty of runway.

Previously

Matthew Phillips | D’Artagnan Joly | Glenn Gawdin | Zach Fischer | Dillon Dube | Filip Sveningsson | Eetu Tuulola | Adam Fox | Linus Lindstrom | Pavel Karnaukhov & Rushan Rafikov

  • The GREAT WW

    Today is the day I have been dreading since the Hamonic trade was made.

    Lots of other posters on here said: “who cares; it’s going to be a pick in the mid 20’s anyway”…….riiiiiiight……

    WW

    • freethe flames

      WW how about we make a bet; if the Islander’s win the lotto with our pick I don’t write anything until the season starts and you don’t say anything bad about TJ and Backs till Christmas,

      • Mickey O

        I say no to you, sir! To deprive the hockey world of Walter’s sunny spin on things would be treasonous. Walter makes Tony Robbins look like Bela Lugosi on the motivational speaking circuit.

    • Alberta Ice

      Maybe the last place Buffalo team will actually win the lottery (like in the Toronto for Matthews year). But don’t count on it; wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Canadiens pluck this one (especially since they have a higher chance than the Oilers, the perennial lucky balls winner and favorite).

  • Kzak

    As I mentioned after seeing him play a couple times this year, he’s lazy and just uses his size to over power his opponents. He does have a nose for the net and a great shot. He reminds of Pavel Brendl, who was the best junior scorer I’ve ever seen, but was too lazy to cut in the NHL.

    • freethe flames

      I am going to trust your view as I have not seen him play; but there are many of young men who are late bloomers and just need the right coach mentor to get them over the hump; others never do. At least he was not a first rounder like some we have drafted that appear to never being able to make the leap.

      • McRib

        “But there are many of young men who are late bloomers and just need the right coach mentor to get them over the bump”

        Yeah, literally all of the same things were said about Ryan Getzlaf and Jamie Benn at the same age. Getzlaf had a major knack for being lazy his entire junior career, watching most of it in person myself I agreed (he hasn’t forgotten us passing on him, hence the streak against Anaheim). I also have a couple of friends who grew up playing on summer select teams with Benn in particular and at 16-19 years old he was waaaayy more interested in partying and chasing skirts than being a Hockey player, but people grow up. I’ll always defend the Ruzicka and Joly picks until the day I die. The fourth round and later is the place to take these type of high risk / high reward prospects, not the first or early second round like Hunter Smith among many other failed picks (Michael McCarron, Tyler Biggs, etc). If either Ruzicka or Joly hit with their potential we’re talking about the steal of the draft, I can live with those types of gambles. Treliving hasn’t done a ton I like lately since Hamilton fell in his lap, but his drafting has been spot on.

      • Kzak

        Yeah, I saw him in Ptbo and Kingston on back to back nights. He wasn’t too bad in the Petes game but him, and the team, were atrocious the next night in Kingston. The bigger piss off, though, was Jordan Kyrou looks like he’s got NHL written all over him, and the Blues drafted him with the pick we traded them for B. Elliott.

    • Mickey O

      Adam Ruzicka looks to be the kind of player that if he gets a point early in the game, he’s eager to get a couple more.
      If he doesn’t hit the scoreboard by the middle of the second, he’s mailing it in for the rest of the game.

    • The Doctor

      I was not impressed with him at the World Juniors. He’s clearly got some talent but he looked soft and a bit lazy. Not a guy who gives 100% 100% of the time, that’s for sure.

  • Hockeysense9393

    It’s a very small percentage for 1-2-3 then the 12th pick. That even hurts some…but I’m optimistic that will be the pick. I did that mock pick deal for pick placement and it took like 30 turns before the Flames pick even showed up in third. I did quite a few more and got tired with it never hitting the top 2 picks. I hope it will be that rare 😀

    • Hockeysense9393

      Oh no!! Please don’t say Pavel Brendl!! If that’s the comparison, then we have a no show here. Hopefully when he’s top dog next year on his team, he will take that responsibility and run with it. A do or go back to Europe type of mentality. It’s kind of sad for a kid to have so much talent, but doesn’t have the push or want to succeed at the next levels.

      • McRib

        I never liked the trade, but I will say this this draft falls off an absolute cliff after the Top. 8-10 prospects, which as long as we don’t win (or for us lose) the lottery makes me feel slightly better. Treliving better not trade next years first rounder though, as the 2019 Draft is a bumper crop and could be one of the best drafts in recent memory. I still never have liked the trade, I could have lived with it if it was just a first rounder or two second, but all three of those picks is a massive overpay.

      • Hockeysense9393

        Yeah for sure, so would I. Need to look at the bright side. A 3/4 shutdown, low paid, humanitarian defenceman against a 12th pick that may never see the light of day in the NHL. Flames fans will be looking at that player for the foreseeable future…but hopefully he’s kind of like…Ruzicka or Lazar?

      • Off the wall

        Odds on 6/49- one in 13,983,816 or 0.0000000715

        Calgary’s ( NYI) 2.5%

        Last years draft saw the following:
        2017
        Draw 1: @NJDevils (5th to 1st)
        Draw 2: @NHLFlyers (13th to 2nd)
        Draw 3: @DallasStars (8th to 3rd)

        Yup, I’m a little concerned..

  • SgtRoadBlock

    would not be shock to see about 5 ufa Vets invited to Camp this Season…This Rebuild has roll of the Track and we r all in a odd cold Place saying how this happen…

  • Hockeysense9393

    I’m finding that some people are a little confused on how this draft lottery works… So here is an NHL breakdown in a nutshell -> “(For the 1st overall pick) Four balls are selected at random to form a four-number combination, which is then compared to a master list of every teams’ combinations and matched with the winner. This process is then repeated to determine the winner of the second and third overall picks. Once all three draws are done, the remaining teams fall into place based on each team’s final position in the regular season standings.”

      • BendingCorners

        No, 12th going in but 9th through 12th coming out. Three teams get lucky, leaving 12 for spots 4-15. If by some miracle Dallas, St.Louis and Florida are all drawn, then Calgary is 12th out of 12, meaning 15th overall.

        • Off the wall

          Thanks for the explanation. I was confused about the draft positions.

          So it’s either 1-2-3 or 12-15.
          Does anyone know what the percentage is of a 1-2-3 scenario?

          Thanks!

      • Hockeysense9393

        No team can drop more then 3 places (I believe it goes), so for example Arizona won’t get worse then 6th pick. When all balls fall…with everything in place…if the NYI (Flames) pick isn’t 1-2-3, then the Islanders will have the 12th pick from the Flames.

        • Hockeysense9393

          It says it right there plainly…Once all three draws are done, the remaining teams fall into place based on each team’s final position in the regular season standings.

    • Hockeysense9393

      So your team trades away Schultz for a 3rd rounder (Filip Berglund) who most likely will never play in the NHL…and then turn around and trade most likely this years league MVP for Larsson. Schultz is playing for his 3rd cup in a row…and Larsson has 32 points in 2 years and will never have a chance at the cup. You’re making fun of us?

  • Just.Visiting

    First round skill and size, with missing intensity. I’ll take a flyer on that every year in the fourth round and later rounds in the hope that I might be able to flick a switch in his head before he’s 21. Worst case scenario is that he’s another failed fourth round pick who goes to Europe.

    • Off the wall

      I watched Ruzicka during this WJC, he was for the most part invisible. He has talent, but seems to be very inconsistent with drive. I’d rather have a player that is driven ( Byng) than someone you need to light a fire under to perform.

      I hope he becomes the player we need, but from what I’ve seen of him, little Matty Phillips has more grit than him.

      • McRib

        “I hope he becomes the player we need, but from what I’ve seen of him, little Matty Phillips has more grit than him.“

        I also agree, as I’ve seen Phillips go in the corner against two of the most “feared” defenders in the WHL trying to destroy him and come out with the puck. Kid has the heart of a lion.

  • freethe flames

    Watching the Bruins/Tampa game and the importance of winning face offs. This has been a huge problem for the Flames for years maybe it’s time to address it. Someone suggested we should try and trade for RoR; he’s a 60% face off guy. Jay Beagle who is a UFA and is RHS is at 58.5% and over 75% in the playoffs he would be an upgrade as a 4th line center over Shore.

      • freethe flames

        I know he’s old but have you watched how well he’s played in the play offs and the issue I am speaking of is face offs. Sign him for one year to help with face offs and to help mentor the young guys. The other guy who I would not be surprised might end up here is Ryan; with his history of playing for BP and again 56%on face offs I could see him being our 4th line center.

    • Off the wall

      Free, just watching the TBL/ Bruins game. Did you see TB’s 2nd goal?
      Rask lost his right skate blade on the Tampa Power-play and instead of trying to use his left leg to push off and get into position, he’s flailing his arms at the referee to get his attention!

      Tampa scores and Rask losses his mind and tosses his skate blade towards the boards. Talk about a weird scenario.

      The refs couldn’t call it, it wasn’t Rask’s mask (critical equipment) that fell off.

      • freethe flames

        Indeed. That was indeed strange. Yes he lost it for a moment but then cooled down. Yet I have seen a number of times where the goalies have helped take off their masks.

      • freethe flames

        We may have been better but not nearly good enough. BP stressed in his interview that the 50/50 battles begin with face offs and you can tell if your players are engaged during face offs.

  • Mickey O

    “Class, I’d like you to write down all of the flaws with the Boston Bruins’ top line.”

    * Hands the class a piece of paper the size of a postage stamp and a bingo blotter.

      • Mickey O

        Now that Buffalo will be picking generational talent Dahlin, their fortunes are looking up. On paper, their defence already looks pretty solid. But there is something rotten on that team, and players want out. The Sabres will want to move ROR after what he said to reporters. Combined with that huge contract, they may be willing to give another team a pretty good deal. Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt already give them a dynamic 1-2 down the middle.

        Any move with Buffalo could include Adam Fox, if they really want to load up on defence. Not sure what else would be in play, but the Sabres basically can’t keep O’Reilly around. He’s become part of the problem and they need to move him, so any new team won’t be paying a premium.

        • freethe flames

          I have to say this is one of the few trade proposals posted that makes some sense. My one big concern is how do we know that RoR will not become a problem in our room. A trade of TJ(being closer to TO, having a former offensive Dman as your headcoach and possibly returning the R side might be great for him) and Fox get you RoR and a prospects say Pu( I wondered what would happen to him after all the stars left yet he still had 84 points this year)

          • Mickey O

            Can’t see O’Reilly being a problem on any new team he’s on. For a player to hammer the organization like that, he must really want out. Peters coached RoR in the 2016 Worlds, and he’ll have him again this year. I’m sure they will have a little off-the-record chat. Peters will know all about O’Reilly already, his attitude and work habits etc.

            I really think that the Flames need to clear up some roster spots, and a two or three piece deal our way for one stud coming back. Like I said on that other long post, Quality over Quantity. Any other team will likely be looking at a d-man or two, and Bennett or Ferland going back the other way. I really wouldn’t want to bail on those two guys though.

            If Valimaki is as good as advertized (I’m really, really high on him) then a Valimaki – Hamonic pairing looks like a great duo. Brodie is as good as gone in that scenario, and it will be an interesting clash of philosophies between the GM and coach. Treliving brings his prospects along super slowly, and Peters took 4 young defencemen to the NHL with basically no time in the minors.