Friday, October 28, 2011

Roman Holiday

Can you imagine if the Calgary Flames were playing this season with defenceman Tim Erixon instead of center Roman Horak?

The Flames selected young Erixon 23rd overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, hoping to benefit from his well-roundedness and good vision on the ice. But somewhere in between then and earlier this year, something went awry and GM Jay Feaster traded him to the New York Rangers. It was generally perceived that Erixon was traded because he refused to sign with the club.

This news came as a slap in the face to Flames fans. Sure, the team hadn't made the playoffs in a couple of years, and the team's rebuilding phase was a slow-going one, but for a rookie to snub the team that drafted him into the NHL was an abomination.

In the process of trading the traitor (as Erixon is now inevitably known as in the city of Calgary) the Flames acquired 20-year old Roman Horak.
As fate would have it, Horak has remained one of the few prospects who survived the Flames training camp and went on to play a few NHL games in the regular season, edging out such promising players as Lance Bouma and TJ Brodie. And in those few games, Horak has managed to notch 2 goals and 3 assists. Erixon, on the other hand, was demoted to the juniors early on in the season, without a point to his name.

Perhaps Horak isn't as highly touted a rookie as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Nazem Kadri, but his presence on the ice has definitely been felt and much appreciated. He's injected a jolt of youthful energy and enthusiasm into the Flames roster (which is much needed, especially right now as 22-year old center Mikael Backlund is out recovering from a broken finger). His excitement on the ice is clear during each and every game, as demonstrated by the impatient rocking back and forth on the bench and liveliness of his stride as he gets off it.

If Horak can keep it up he could very well become an integral part of the Flames roster, and his teammates have no doubt he can do it.
"It's great to see a young guy that wants to learn and works hard every day," Ollie Jokinen had said of Horak on Wednesday, following the game that saw the youngster score his very first NHL goal. "He's only going to get better."

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