Is it another win for Milos? Let’s look back at Milos Roman’s sophomore WHL season to find out.
When we last checked in
The Flames traded into the fourth round of the 2018 draft to make sure they got Roman, and for good reason. Despite an injury plagued transition year, Roman had put up sneaky good numbers. Among all WHL draft eligibles, he ranked ninth in primary points per game, and second in estimated points per 60 at 5v5. Roman also had a pretty decent World Juniors, picking up two goals in five games.
But there was still growth needed. Roman struggled with consistency at points in his draft year, and he was mostly reduced to a power play threat than an all-around one. Of course, a fourth round selection isn’t going to be perfect from the get-go, but Roman would need a big step forward this season to prove that he could be a legit NHLer.
With a year of acclimatization under his belt, a healthy Roman took a leading role with the Vancouver Giants, centering their top line more often than not. He became one of the leaders on a quiet goal-scoring outfit, finishing third in team scoring behind 20 year old Davis Koch and projected top five pick Bowen Byram. He also took on a major role for Slovakia at the World Juniors, finishing with three goals and an assist in five games.
Numbers & Growth
|GP||G||A||P||5V5 points||Primary Points||5v5 Primary Points||NHLe||% of team offence||% of 5v5 team offence|
It was a year of improvement for Roman. With the exception of a very rough period where he only picked up eight points in 14 games (five of them coming in just two of those games), he was a safe bet to pick up at least a point on any given night.
His strength is definitely primary points. Throughout the year, he started filling in to the playmaker label scouts put on him, only picking up 13 secondary points to 47 primary points. That is clearly seen in his power play totals, where he only picked up two secondary points to 24 primary points. Like he was last year, Roman was a machine on the Vancouver power play, finishing first on his team in primary power play points.
The problem is that he’s still only limited to being a power play force. That’s not too bad considering how important he is to the WHL’s third best power play (19th in PP points, 5th in PP primary points league wide), but it would be ideal if he managed to take a few steps towards exerting that dominance at 5v5 play. Looking at % of team offence, Roman did take a step forward in contributions to total team offence, but slipped a bit when looking at only 5v5 offence. His 5v5 numbers are pretty pedestrian considering the WHL as a whole, finishing 76th in 5v5 points and 92nd in 5v5 primary points.
— xy – Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) October 28, 2018
Roman’s rookie numbers pointed to a guy who was likely destined to be a bottom sixer if he panned out. 18% of players with similar all situations production eventually made the NHL, and that number bumped up a bit to 25% when considering similar AS and 5v5 production. As a fourth round pick, that isn’t at all unexpected. The odds are certainly stacked against them, but there is still a chance.
His numbers this season point to more of the same. Although there’s a slight dip in similar players who made the NHL (11%), those players went on to produce at around bottom six levels (0.39 PPG, or 32 points over 82 games). Roman didn’t have a great season by a points per game standard, but the Giants weren’t a great offensive team as a whole, so that does hurt him a bit. If he was on a more prolific offence, he would probably see those numbers jump a bit, but nothing too crazy.
The bad news, again, is that his 5v5 numbers hurt him. Only six of 217 players who had similar 5v5 numbers to Roman ever made the NHL in a significant capacity, or just under 3%. The overall imbalance between Roman’s AS scoring and 5v5 scoring means that there’s only four players who matched both his 5v5 and AS production this year. None of them went onto the NHL, but generally speaking, most players generally don’t have such massive disparities between scoring at various states. I would probably consider that insignificant.
Roman’s career numbers are still trending in a positive direction. Of players who have matched Roman’s production throughout the various points in their WHL careers, 19% of them played significant NHL hockey. Again, most of them were bottom sixers, eventually averaging 0.37 PPG, but it’s much more promising than any of his comparables this most recent season.
Roman can follow an interesting path and jump straight into the pros next year. He’ll take up an overage (1999 birth) and import spot on Vancouver’s roster, which limits them, and any other team, severely. He is eligible to play on the Stockton Heat, and with the Flames injecting a bit more youth into the AHL next season (Martin Pospisil, Adam Ruzicka, and Luke Philp will all likely be joining the team next season, with some other signings possible) , it seems like the most likely destination. Unless the Giants can work a trade out, Roman can probably start looking at life in California.
Signing an ELC and going pro might not be as grand as it sounds, however. If Roman gets the contract, he’ll probably be at the bottom of the depth chart looking up in Stockton. As it stands right now, he’ll probably be behind Philp, Ruzicka, and Glenn Gawdin at centre (Pospisil also plays the position, but will most likely be a wing). He hasn’t really played wing at any recent point in his career, and doesn’t seem suited to the position, so I don’t think a switch is in the cards. Depending on how many veterans the Flames decide to bring in, it could mean ECHL time for Roman.
If it gets to that point, I think the Flames have a tough decision on their hands. If a WHL team can figure out how to keep him on their roster without putting themselves over CHL roster limits (remember that the Flames own the Hitmen, so they can meddle if they wanted to), he will likely stay there. As tantalizing as it would be to put a 19 year old in the pros, it’s probably not great for his development to stick him on the fourth line with journeyman grinders for an entire season. He’s hasn’t even conquered junior hockey yet, so “one step at a time” is probably how the organization wants to approach this one.
Their hand might be forced by circumstance, but we won’t find out until Roman’s playoffs end. Him and the Giants just began the WHL finals against Prince Albert, currently leading the series after a game one victory.
— xy – Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) October 4, 2018