The Calgary Flames came into the 2018 NHL Draft weekend with four selections at their disposal, starting with two in the fourth round. But they made an interesting move late in the fourth round, swapping their 2019 fourth to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for an additional fourth in this year’s draft.
That move allowed the Flames to jump the queue and select Vancouver Giants centre Milos Roman. He’s only been in North America for a single season, but he’s a player that the club is very enthusiastic about. He comes in at #16 on our 2018 top 20 prospects list.
How did we get here?
Roman is another Flames prospect who’s been playing above his head – generating offense while playing against players two or three years older than him – for several seasons. Originally from Kysucke Nove Mesto, Slovakia, he’s playing most of his high-level hockey in the neighbouring Czech Republic in the HC Trinec organization.
- As a 13-year-old, he had 0.85 points per game in the U16 league.
- As a 14-year-old, he had 2.30 points per game in the U16 league and 0.84 points per game in the U18 league.
- As a 15-year-old, he had 1.17 points per game in the U18 league (and 2.00 points per game in a short U16 stint).
- As a 16-year-old, he had 1.06 points per game in the U20 league.
- As a 17-year-old, he was a full-time pro in the Czech secondary league (with 0.21 points per game).
After spending a year (at 17) playing against grown-ass men on Trinec’s bottom six, Roman opted to head over to North America. He was selected by the Giants in the Canadian Hockey League’s annual import draft. The Flames selected him at 122nd overall in the 2018 NHL Draft.
In addition to all his club hockey exploits, Roman has already played extensively with Slovakia at major international events: two World Under-18s, two Hlinka Memorial Tournaments and two World Juniors.
Stats, numbers, and everything therein
It was Roman’s first year on the smaller North American ice.
He played pretty well. He missed 33 games, through a combination of (a) playing in the World Juniors and (b) suffering a lingering ankle injury in his first game back from said World Juniors. But between dealing with injuries and living in a completely different country and playing on smaller ice, all told he fared pretty well.
Even with missing 46% of the regular season, he was eighth on the Giants in scoring. On a per-game basis he was fifth in team scoring, and the four players ahead of him were older players with previous WHL experience.
For a deeper dive into Roman’s numbers, revisit Christian Tiberi’s writeup on him here.
Those in the know
During the site’s draft previews, Bill Placzek of Draft Site summarized Roman’s playing style:
Speedy centre-forward with a terrific first step, good stick, and puck handling prowess. It is difficult to move him off the puck when he is working down low. A dynamic tracking force on offense and aggressive forechecker who unearths pucks. Was slowed by ankle injury he incurred at the World Junior U-20. His downside is he isn’t interested in hard battles for pucks on the wall or traffic. He isn’t timid, just leery.
Flames director of development Ray Edwards noted several attributes that make the organization excited about Roman’s development potential:
This guy is a real thinker. He absorbs what you’re trying to tell him and teach him. He’s going to continue getting better and better because he has the will, the want, the character to do it. He’s not afraid to put the work in. The offensive part of his game is going to continue to get better the more he works at it. I think he’s going to get a great opportunity to play in every situation, create offense, be a top match-up guy, all the things that you want in your prospects.
On the horizon
With a few key Giants graduating to the pros – notably offensive leaders Ty Ronning and Tyler Benson – Roman will be both given more opportunities in high leverage situations and relied upon to create offense. He’ll be one of their most prominent players and potentially even their team captain. He’ll also be headed back to the World Juniors as a key part of Slovakia’s national team.
If Roman can maintain his 2017-18 performance over a full WHL season, he’ll be a strong candidate for an NHL contract after this coming season. If he can build upon it and potentially increase his scoring pace, he could potentially become a big steal for the Flames.
|#20 – Martin Pospisil||#19 – Demetrios Koumontzis|
|#18 – Emilio Pettersen||#17 – Filip Sveningsson|