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Ready for a new chapter

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
CALGARY, AB --  After being informed he had been traded to the Calgary Flames, forward Roman Horak could barely contain his happiness.

"When I spoke to Roman, the excitement ... you could feel it through the phone," Flames General Manager Jay Feaster said on Wednesday. "Later, Mike Burke (director of hockey administration) phoned to tell him about the development camp and after he said, 'Man, that kid is excited.'"

Currently at home in the Czech Republic, Horak is anxiously awaiting his return to Canada and his debut at the Flames development camp.

"I'm really glad I can be part of this organization," he said via email. "It's a great opportunity. It's always good to play hockey in Calgary because of great fans so I'm looking forward to it."

When he arrives in Calgary, he'll be greeted by a familiar face.

Horak and fellow Flames prospect Ryan Howse were linemates with the Chilliwack Bruins and together they racked up career seasons. Howse recorded 51 goals and 83 points through 70 regular season games while Horak contributed 26 goals and 78 points through 64 games.

With both players now expected to play in Abbotsford next season, Horak is looking forward to building upon their success from last season.

"Well, it's really easy to play with him. You can just give him the puck and he will score. He is a great player, very skilled with a great shot so I am excited to play with him again."

Horak's natural offensive instincts have made him Howse's set-up man during their tenure with the Bruins and he believes his hockey sense is his strongest asset.

"I think I can see the ice pretty good," he said. "Passing and skating would be my strength."

Howse spoke glowingly about Horak on the FAN 960 on Thursday afternoon.

"If it weren't for him, I don't know if I'd have the 50 goals I had last year," he said. "He's a guy with great vision, great playmaking abilities but I wouldn't count him out for scoring goals. He's a good offensive player.

"He's a great person and great hockey player. That's something you need - a good personality and good people skills as well."

The 20 year-old has incredible raw offensive talent but his small stature, listed at 6'1 and 170 lbs, is a concern for some. Bulking up before development camp will be one of Horak's priorities during his off-season training.

New York Rangers amateur scout Ernie Gare told Horak's size was the team's main issue but it wasn't overly concerning.

"He's got a lot of good things going for him. He just has to get stronger right now ... He's going to try and put some muscle on his frame, and I think that will help all areas of his game.

"The effort and determination are there. It's just a case of him working to get stronger and fill that frame out."

Gare acknowledged that while he may still be undersized by NHL standards, his compete level has helped him succeed.

"He goes to the hard areas and the tough areas, even though he's not someone that's going to be laying guys out with big bodycheck," he said. "He sticks his nose in there in those tough areas and he has a willingness to go there in order to score or if it's needed on the forecheck to try to turn the puck over."

"His coaches are very high on him, too. They like his work ethic and tell me that he works very hard off-ice as well. He's a determined kid.  He's a guy who's really going to chip in with some offense while being really responsible defensively."
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