The Calgary Flames are out of the playoffs. The Stockton Heat missed the playoffs. In the entire Flames organization, the playing season has completed. Well, except for prospect Milos Roman.
A product of Slovakia, the 19-year-old Roman was drafted by the Flames in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas. Heck, the Flames traded into the fourth round to get the pick they used to take him – they liked him that much.
After putting up 32 points in 39 games in an injury-hampered 2017-18 season, a year where he dealt with transitioning to North America and a couple injuries, he took a step forward this year with 60 points in 59 games. He didn’t exactly have the breakout offensive season that fellow 2018 pick Dmitry Zavgorodniy had in the QMJHL, but Roman was playing on an “offense by committee” Vancouver Giants squad that was lean on stars.
Despite being lean on stars – aside from maybe 2019 NHL Draft top prospect Bowen Byram – the Giants won on Friday night against the Spokane Chiefs to advance to the WHL Championship series. While the lengthy playoff run has given Roman some valuable development opportunities in tight games, it’s also shined a spotlight on some of the rough spots in his game.
Here’s a snapshot of Roman’s stat lines through each series:
- Round 1 (Seattle): 1 goal, 2 assists, minus-2, 6 PIM, 30-for-68 face-offs (44%), 11 shots (6 games)
- Round 2 (Victoria): 1 goal, 1 assist, minus-1, 2 PIM, 25-for-30 face-offs (83%), 16 shots (4 games)
- Round 3 (Spokane): 0 goals, 3 assists, even, 0 PIM, 30-for-63 face-offs (48%), 7 shots (5 games)
Playing effectively as the third line center behind overagers Jared Dmytriw and Davis Koch, Roman hasn’t put up great offensive numbers and his face-off stats are middling. That said, Dmytriw and Koch are getting more favourable linemates and situational usage because they’ve been more effective… which has led to them continuing to be more effective while Roman is left to make the most of his situation.
Random thoughts about the @WHLGiants 4-1 win over the @spokanechiefs in Game 1 of their Western Conference final Friday night.
*Jadon Joseph is listed as winger on his line with Milos Roman and Brayden Watts, but he was 10-of-16 on faceoffs. Roman, who's the centre, was 1-of-6.
— Steve Ewen (@SteveEwen) April 20, 2019
Heading into the summer, Roman’s in a unique situation. He doesn’t have an NHL contract yet and while he doesn’t need to be signed – the Flames hold his rights through June 1, 2020 – his status as an import with a 1999 birthday means he would eat up both an overage and an import roster spot for the Giants next season. “Two-spotters” (as they’re called by junior hockey followers) are uncommon and the Giants are currently juggling eight 1999-born players – including Roman and Arizona Coyotes goaltending prospect David Tendeck.
Based on their actions so far this off-season – signing oodles of new faces like Artyom Zagidulin, Adam Ruzicka, Luke Philp and Martin Pospisil – the Flames seem set on changing up the player mix in Stockton next season. Based on that and Roman’s unique WHL status for 2019-20, it seems likely that they could be convinced to offer him a contract. That said, his play in the playoffs hasn’t blown the doors off and through three rounds it seems logical to play wait and see.
But Roman gets a great chance beginning next week to make the Flames’ minds up for them. The Giants will be in the WHL Championship series against either the powerhouse Prince Albert Raiders or the deep Edmonton Oil Kings – it’s looking like Prince Albert – and a strong performance from Roman in a high stakes final round could earn him a contract.