The Calgary Flames front office is staying busy even as the team battles in the postseason. The Flames have announced today that they have signed center Adam Ruzicka to a three-year entry-level contract. The clock was ticking on getting the 2017 draft selection under contract, but Calgary has done so and add a big and talented two-way forward to the pipeline.
Ruzicka, 19, has used the opportunities presented to him to show that he is a complete prospect and certainly worthy of a commitment from the Flames. The Slovakian forward initially played his junior hockey in the Czech Republic, where he put up good numbers, but really made a name for himself as the clear best player on Slovakia’s entries into international tournaments. Ruzicka finally made the jump overseas ahead of the 2016-17 season, after the OHL’s Sarnia Sting took notice and selected him in the CHL Import Draft. Ruzicka chose North America and the pursuit of an NHL career over a more immediate pro debut, as he was a first-round pick in the KHL Draft the same year, but opted to join Sarnia instead. After a strong debut season in the OHL, Calgary was happy to take Ruzicka in the fourth round after many expected he would go earlier. Ruzicka responded to any remaining doubts about his game by recording 36 goals and 36 assists for 72 points in 65 games last season. He started this year off the same way, with 37 points in 35 games, before he was traded to the Sudbury Wolves. The move only further ignited Ruzicka, who added another 41 points in 30 games, a total of 78 points on the year, and a team-leading ten points in the Wolves’ eight playoff games.
Ruzicka has more than shown that he can score at the junior level, but what makes him such a promising prospect for the Flames is that he also has the physical tools to translate that ability to the pros. Ruzicka stands 6’4″ and weighs in at over 200 lbs. and isn’t afraid to throw that frame around. An old-school center, Ruzicka is physical player with and without the puck, who can check, win battles, and possess the puck as well as anyone his age. His net front presence is also a major factor in his scoring numbers. Ruzicka has also shown some versatility by moving to the wing at times this season, adding yet another skill to his repertoire. There wasn’t much doubt that Calgary would get Ruzicka under contract before the June 1st deadline, but now that it is official, this is a prospect that Flames fans can really get excited about.