Flames have high hopes for Cervenka

Thursday, 03.05.2012 / 8:56 AM / News
By Torie Peterson  - CalgaryFlames.com (@toriepeterson)
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Flames have high hopes for Cervenka

CALGARY, AB -- In his post-season address, Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster spoke of needing to inject his roster with more youth and skill, particularly in the 22-26 age bracket.

Less than a month later, Feaster and the organization's scouting team have taken a sizable step forward in achieving that goal.

The Flames announced the signing of KHL standout Roman Cervenka on Wednesday, a 26 year-old center who has put up impressive numbers since joining the league two years ago.

In the 2010-11 campaign, Cervenka netted 31 goals in 51 games with Avangard Omsk, leading the KHL in scoring that season. He was selected by fans to play in the KHL All-Star Game, collecting more votes than any other skater in the league.

Last year, he recorded 23 goals in 54 regular season tilts before tearing it up in the playoffs. In 20 postseason outings, Cervenka notched 21 points and helped lead Avangard to Game 7 of the Gagarin Cup final.

He has also represented the Czech Republic on numerous occasions. In addition to playing at 2010 Winter Olympics, he has captured a bronze medal at the 2005 World Junior Championships, a gold medal at the 2010 World Championships and a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships.

"This is a player who has very good hands, very good vision. He is a guy who has demonstrated he can score goals at a high level of play," Feaster said. "He had a great postseason for Omsk this year. Led the playoffs actually in scoring.

"For us to be able to acquire him and sign him to an entry-level deal and not have to give up assets to add that kind of skill, it's an exciting signing as far as we're concerned."

A couple of years ago, before he opted to sign a two-year deal with Omsk, several NHL clubs were interested in retaining the pivot's services. That interest spiked once again this spring as Cervenka's contract with Avangard expired on Apr. 30.

"We were one of a number of teams that were pursing him," Feaster stated. "We made a presentation as far as where we see him on our hockey club and how we seem him fitting in and why we felt we were the best spot to begin his National Hockey League career.

"We were fortunate he did decide to choose Calgary."

Known as one of the best players outside of the NHL, Cervenka could make an immediate impact in the league. But players who have thrived in Europe haven't always been able to make a successful transition to the North American game, falling short of expectations in the NHL. Feaster isn't fretting over the notion Cervenka may not be able to adapt.

"He’s a mature young man," he said. "He’s a guy that’s been pursued for a number of years by NHL teams and he has waited. He’s thought about it. This isn’t a snap decision. He’s a very cautious guy. He does a lot of research. He has talked to a lot of players from the Czech Republic who are, or have, played in the league.

"He has done the work on his end to be certain he’s ready to come over."

YOUR CALL

How do you feel about the Cervenka signing? How do you think he will do in the 2012-13 campaign?