FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2018: #13 Adam Ruzicka

Between Marek Hrivik, Robert Dome, and Ronald Petrovicky, the Flames have had Slovakians play 111 games for them, 107 belonging to Petrovicky. Mostly due to Slovakia playing little brother to their former countrymen in the Czech Republic, the Flames have just opted for more Czechs (13 have played for the Flames) than Slovaks (three). One is just a superior hockey country than the other, and it’s reflected in their distribution throughout Flames history.

The Flames’ 2017 fourth draft pick Adam Ruzicka could potentially push those numbers more towards to the Slovak side (though certainly not all by himself – if he does though, that’d be something). The 6’4″, 203 lb. lefty centreman has been earmarked as a budding prospect from the resurgent Slovak system, but has yet to put it all together. He comes in at #13 in our yearly rankings, a slight jump from #16 last season.

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How did we get here?

Ruzicka has been proclaimed an up-and-comer since he became a teenager, labelled as a potential kickstarter for the rebuilding Slovak hockey program. His early performances confirmed some of these labels: as a 15-year-old, he scored 28 points in 10 Czech U16 league games, 22 in 22 U18 games, and six in 11 U20 games in addition to similar performances with Slovakia’s U16 and U17 teams. He hit a point per game in the Czech U20 league the year after that, and was selected 107th overall by the Sarnia Sting in the CHL import draft.

His first OHL season was rough. Many expected Ruzicka to be a first round pick, but inconsistency and underperforming deflated his draft stock despite a strong U18 WJC appearance (five points in five games) and Ivan Hlinka tournament (four points in four games, captaincy). He slipped all the way to the fourth round of the 2017 draft where the Flames picked him up at 109th overall.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

Ruzicka’s points production, while solid as a whole, fell victim to the various ebbs and flows of his season. He picked up 27 points through his first 15 games, but failed to maintain that furious pace, only scoring 10 in the next 15. From there, he bounced between scoring droughts and scoring bursts. His World Juniors was unimpressive, not that anyone on Slovakia really stood out.

Games played Goals Assists Points
OHL 63 36 36 72
World Juniors 5 0 2 2

Ruzicka’s a strong generator of primary offence, as indicated by his numbers. He only picked up 11 secondary assists all year, and only five at 5v5. If there’s one knock on him, it’s that he’s extremely reliant on special teams time to bring up the point totals.

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Games played Points Primary points 5v5 points 5v5 primary points
63 72 61 37 32

For a more detailed look, revisit this write-up.

Those in the know

Brock Otten of OHLprospects gives his well-informed take on Ruzicka’s latest season and what lessons he’ll hopefully take into next season:

He’s really starting to embrace the style of play that he needs to employ here in North America, using his size to dominate in possession and below the hash marks. His board play and ability to keep plays alive improved a lot, as he now has the confidence to remain patient and wait for openings to create scoring chances. Ruzicka was a lot more engaged without the puck too, looking to find the front of the net, using his size to gain inside position for rebounds, tips, etc. Another thing worth noting was his improved percentage on the faceoff dot. Massive improvement there which is huge if he wants to stay down the middle moving forward. Next year, Sarnia will lose a lot of key players so they’ll need Ruzicka to step up even more and be a dominant player.

On the horizon

As Otten alluded to, Sarnia is losing a lot of talent next season, particularly among the forward ranks. The burden will be on Ruzicka’s shoulders, and he’s not going to have much help to lean on. The real Adam Ruzicka will be revealed this upcoming season.

Can he handle it? Ruzicka could potentially be a 40/40 player next season or not that at all. Although he took some strides this season, a lot of his supposed true potential has not yet been realized, as demonstrated through inconsistent play. Given that he has to shoulder the weight of a significantly depleted team while also taking yet another step forward developmentally, it could be a tough season for Ruzicka. But there’s certainly the possibility that he comes ready to play and has a wire-to-wire dominant year.

He’s also still eligible for the World Juniors, where he’ll likely take a leadership role for Slovakia (Flames prospect Milos Roman will also be somewhere in the mix) in his third go-around.

#20 – Martin Pospisil #19 – Demetrios Koumontzis
#18 – Emilio Pettersen #17 – Filip Sveningsson
#16 – Milos Roman #15 – Dmitry Zavgorodniy
#14 – D’Artagnan Joly


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  • Garry T

    Hope with his size and skill levels he continues to receive coaching and guidance and really improves. On another note, have been having fun trying to put a 4th line together and have settled on Kindrachuk, Czarnik and 6.5 ft,
    Buddy Robinson with Mangiapane and Foo as spares. Robinson can fight, he can skate and he has scoring skills. Think this line could be a dooooozy.

    • mrroonie

      There are two unknowns that will be major factors in whether your statement is true:

      1) Will Dobson be the same caliber of D-man as Hamonic at the NHL level? Better? Worse?

      2) What will happen to Hamonic’s performance in the future with a new D partner, a year under his belt with the Flames, and a new coach/system?

      If Dobson turns out to be really good and Hamonic doesn’t perform well, then the Flames got fleeced. If Dobson turns out to be about the same level as Hamonic the Flames may have overpaid a bit but they got a player in Hamonic that is NHL ready now which matches with the age of their core, rather than waiting for a prospect to develop which may not happen within the right time frame. If Dobson isn’t able to translate his junior numbers to the NHL level and Hamonic improves, the Flames may turn out to be the ones who should be charged with theft.

      It will probably take several years before we know the answers to those questions.

      • Kevin R

        Shouldnt ignore the amazing cap hit Hamonic has & the value of cap space. Of all people, you would think an Oiler fan would appreciate cap space & cap hits a little more.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Hope this kid takes off next year. Pretty quiet around here…

    Is anyone interested in seeing the results of a research project of mine? It started out of curiosity regarding the Flames new forward depth. I wanted a way to compare our depth to the other teams of the Pacific division to see where the Flames stack up. I used the SKATR comparison tool online which tracks a number of 5 on 5 stats for individual players (each category is a number out of a max 100), as well as usage stats. I then took the projected lineups of each Pacific Division team and added up each individual player to get a total for the team. It’s taken several hours, but so far I just have Vancouver and Arizona left to calculate. I have done this for both forwards and defense (team totals). The results have been very interesting so far…

    So far the top team registered over 22,000 total team points. Anyone care to guess the order of the Pacific Division team scores? (from High to Low) Winner gets bragging rights. Note the SKATR comparison tool does not factor in goaltending. We’re only talking about skaters… I wanted to see which team was the best “on paper”. I’ll post results once I calculate the other two teams.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      … I’ve had to make some assumptions. For example… Ilya Kovalchuk does not have date in the SKATR tool, nor do certain European free agent signings or rookies expected to make certain teams. I’ll state all of the assumptions I used a bit later.

      • Off the wall

        My uneducated guess:
        1. SAN Jose
        2. Calgary
        4. LA
        5. Anaheim
        6. Oilers
        8. Vancouver

        Not doing this for bragging rights, just want to see how badly wrong I am..

      • Off the wall

        Yah, quite possibly Baalzamon.
        I’ve probably got this all backwards for all I know, but it’s fun to see how much our own (biases) or assumptions are wrong..

        • Baalzamon

          Good question. I’ll take a stab.

          San Jose
          Los Angeles

          Yup. Basically the only order that (in real life) is completely guaranteed to not happen.

          I also realize all of a sudden that goaltending isn’t factored in this model, which would punish the Coyotes (Raanta was ridiculous last year).

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            Ya, goaltending can be the great equalizer. This model is also looking strictly at 5 on 5 stats and ignores special teams. An above or below average PK or PP can push a team above or below these rankings.

            As I was doing this another thing that became clear was that historical data is just that… it’s in the past. I looked strictly at 2017-2018 player results. Teams are in different places in their life cycle. For example, I just finished Vancouver and they scored terribly, but could have 3 or 4 rookies in their line up that do well. Last year, Daniel Sedin was still their highest rated player using this model and Henrik was one of the better ones as well. Who fills the hole and takes their ice time? Arizona and you could argue Calgary are on the up swing in terms of life cycle. LA and SJ you could argue are on their way down.

            I’ll post results at noon (my spreadsheet with the other 6 teams is at home… I’ll go grab it)

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      OK. The results. A bit about methodology first:
      – I’ve completely ignored rookies. For example I used data from Lazar and Hathaway and put them on the 4th line for the Flames because there was no data for Mangiapane and Czarnik. Same goes for other teams. Van for example doesn’t have Pettersson added in.
      – It’s not a complete 22 skater roster. I took the best 12 forwards (4 lines) and 6 d-men (3 pairings). If two players seemed borderline equal for the 6th D spot or 12th forward spot, I added up both and took the higher. (for example Pouliot scored 807 vs. Hutton about a 700).
      – I’ll state when I estimated a player below (for example Kovalchuk on LA)

      So here are the results!
      #1 – Calgary (15,185 forwards + 7,024 defense = 22,209 total points)
      #2 – San Jose (14,514 forwards + 7,402 defense = 21,916)
      #3 – Vegas (13,997 forwards + 6,831 defense = 20,828)
      #4 – LA (13,513 forwards + 6,593 defense =20,106) *
      #5 – Anaheim (13,600 forwards + 6,205 defense = 19,805) **
      #6 – Edmonton (13,006 forwards + 6,406 defense = 19,412)***
      #7 – Arizona (12,669 forwards + 6,203 defense = 18,872)
      #8 – Vancouver (11,230 forwards + 4,959 defense =16,189)

      * Used a score of 1350 for Ilya Kovalchuk
      ** Used a score of 700 for unknown replacement level 4th liner (likely Anton Rodin)
      *** (Used Sekera’s 2017-2018 post-injury score of 457 which is just awful. Sekera in 16/17 scored 1358. Which is the true Sekera? If we assume the middle (907, it adds 450 points to the Oilers pushing them to #5 behind Anaheim)

      Off the wall was the closest and he wasn’t far off! (SJ and CGY had very similar scores). Only those two were reversed in his order.

      I went into this thinking our skater depth was right up there with anyone in the division. I think I proved that to myself.

      • The Fall

        good one — fun exercise.

        But, these charts really favour shot metrics and as we all know, Flames won the shot differentials last year: Woo Hoo! … so there’s that.

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          Actually there are a lot of metrics including individual historical points, goals, etc. Here are the categories:
          – Game Score
          – Points
          – Goals
          – Primary assists
          – Secondary assists
          – Indiv shots
          – indiv exp goals
          – shooting %
          – penalty differential

          ON ICE RATES:
          – Shot share (CF%)
          – Rel team CF%
          – Shots for CF
          – Shots against CA
          – Exp Goal share xGF%
          – Rel teammate xGF%
          – Exp goals For
          – Exp goals Against

          – Share of icetime
          – Quality of comp
          – Quality of teammates
          – Def zone % Starts

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            As always usage is important – and when looking at two players needs to be considered more in this type of analysis. Given most teams have the majority of the team coming back each year and I’m looking at the total team points… I figure usage evens out… although there could be a bit of variance in a team bringing in multiple high performing assets new to the team (i.e. the Flames!)

          • The Fall

            Point being that the majority of those numbers all come from shots and shot attempts. For example: xGF% are by-products of assigning goal expectancy to shots.

            And GG was a big fan of shot attempts.

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          @ The Fall. You’re correct. I put an equal weight to each category listed here (just added them up). More weight certainly goes to shot metrics – I don’t disagree. Far from a perfect analysis but fun nonetheless!

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Some interesting things that came out during this for me:
        – Matthew Tkachuk is a stud
        – Noah Hanifin is a stud. Darnell Nurse is better than I thought but using these metrics Hanifin beats him handily and is two years younger!
        – Travis Hamonic isn’t much above replacement level. Hope he rebounds. If Andersson and Valimaki can make an impact, the Flames should be looking at moving out Stone, Hamonic, etc. Flames defense is not “all world”
        – Arizona scored worse than I thought going in, as did Anaheim. Anaheim gets propped up by good goaltending. Arizona are really banking on youth to develop.

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          I used K. Holzer on the 3rd pair and his stats were pretty low last year. I was also surprised that Fowler socred only 1147 and Montour a 979. In comparison… Brodie was a 1054 and Hamonic a 953, but Gio was 1681 and Hanifin 1499! Lindholm came in at 1469 and Manson at 1591 though! They’re 3rd pair really sunk them (1,019 points compared to CGY’s 1837 3rd pairing points)

          • Baalzamon

            I imagine Calgary’s 3rd pair was propped up by Kulak.

            I would have expected higher from Lindholm, to be honest, but Manson is not surprising. I’m also not surprised about Fowler, he’s pretty overrated (if anything I would have expected a lower score for him).

            And yeah, I didn’t realize their bottom pair was that bad (though I really couldn’t have told you who their third pair was, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised).

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Some other interesting observations:

      Top Forwards in Pacific division:
      # 1 – McDavid: 1720 points
      #2 – Tkachuk: 1682 points!
      #3 – W. Karlsson: 1663 points
      #4 – Marchessault: 1584 points
      #5 – R. Smith: 1575 points
      #6 – J. Donskoi: 1548 points !?
      #7 – P Stastny: 1517 points
      #8 – S. Monahan: 1516 points
      #9 – J. Gaudreau: 1515 points
      #10 – Kopitar: 1510 points

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      So Flames players based simply on descending SKATR scores:

      Tkachuk: 1682
      Giordano: 1681
      Monny: 1516
      Johnny: 1515
      Hanifin: 1499
      Backlund: 1443
      Frolik: 1393
      Ryan: 1292
      Neal: 1269
      Lindholm: 1083
      Bennett: 1057
      Brodie: 1054
      Hathaway: 1040
      Kulak: 1020
      Jankowski: 965
      Hamonic: 953
      Lazar: 930
      Stone: 817

      • Korcan

        Hmm. . . So the Flames potential 2018/19 lineup, based solely on these metrics and not taking into account rookies cracking the lineup (which WILL affect the 4th line and possibly the 3rd pairing), could look like:

        Johnny Monny Tkachuk
        Frolik Backlund Neal
        Bennett Ryan Lindholm
        Lazar Jankowski Hathaway

        Giordano Hanafin
        Kulak Brodie
        Stone Hamonic

        Interesting lineup

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          I thought of doing this as well!

          … actually surprisingly Ryan scored just slightly higher than Neal, so:
          1st line the same
          4th line the same

          • Korcan

            Yeah, i had Neal ahead of Ryan solely because i assume they have Ryan pegged as a center, but i actually like the idea of him playing on Backlund’s right and being available for faceoffs — could be a great shutdown line. The Lindholm trio potentially could end up being the #2 line if Bennett finally breaks out and Lindholm continues his development. In the end, the 4th line is very unlikely to have either Lazar or Hathaway on it, and Jankowski centering Mangiapane(Dube?) and Czarnik could be pretty exciting. Having all these potential line combinations makes projecting fun. The Flames should be fun to watch this season.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Canadian above asked about Hamilton and Ferland:
        Maybe don’t ask 🙂 Hamilton scores a 1,725 (might be the highest rated defender in the league using these metrics – Victor Hedman scores 1,623 as a comparable)

        Ferland scores a 1,284

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Top defender in PAC division:

      #1 – Giordano: 1681 points
      #2 – Manson: 1591 points
      #3 – Hanifin: 1499 points
      #4 – Doughty: 1479 points
      #5 – Lindholm: 1469 points
      #6: Ekman-Larsson: 1382 points
      #7 – Vlasic:1379 points
      #8 – Burns: 1373 points
      #9 – Miller: 1363 points
      #10 – Muzzin: 1345 points

  • buts

    I’ve seen him play 4 times on tv (wjc and league) and he was invisible, very dissappointing. That’s a small sample for sure but he looked disinterested and lazy.

  • radiomonkey

    Don’t like this kid’s chances. Physically gifted, but lacks hustle and effort. He needs to flip a switch and quickly. Saw him play in person a few times last year and unless he’s scoring you don’t really notice him.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I can see why the Flames would swing for the fences with Ruzicka because of his size and raw talent. But I don’t see the fire and am not expecting that he is the type of player that will put in the work.