With their fourth round selection, 109th overall, in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Flames took hulking forward Adam Ruzicka from the Sarnia Sting.
In his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League, Ruzicka scored 25 goals and put up 46 points through 61 regular season games. He struggled in the early portion of the 2016-17 campaign, adjusting to a new league and country, but took big steps forward in the second half of the year.
"We think he's got some upside, some untapped potential," Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button assessed. "He's a big kid, he's strong, captained the under-18 team in the Under-18 World Championship, he played on (Slovakia's) World Junior Championship team as a 17-year-old.
"In Sarnia, he had a really good coach in Derian Hatcher. We think there's a lot of ceiling there to continue to improve and be more consistent with his play as far as getting involved in the games offensively. He's a very conscientious player defensively but we think he's got more ability to do more offensively."
Here are snippets of what independent scouting agencies had to say about Ruzicka:
INTERNATIONAL SCOUTING SERVICE - RANKED 48th OVERALL
Adam was a member of Slovakia's National Junior team and the Under 18 team. He played in the CHL Top Prospects game. Adam is a very skilled forward. Along with great size, he has very good hands, a very good shot. He knows the game with very good hockey sense. A shooter more than a passer. His skating is deceptive because of his size but he can open it up when he wants to. He has the ability to take his game to an elite level. He has a physical presence but not a physical player. His competitiveness, defensive commitment, and effort are often questionable. Has high end potential but a gamble by the NHL team drafting him. Could be a home run or a bust.
FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS - RANKED 59th OVERALL
Ruzicka is a big center who uses his size to his advantage. This Slovakian import is still figuring out the game in North America. He is a reasonably good skater with some agility and smooth lateral movements. However, his first steps are slow due to his long gangly looking legs that give him trouble accelerating to top speed quickly, resulting in having a tough time beating opponents to loose pucks and keeping up with the swifter player in the OHL. He is dangerous using his long reach to protect the puck along the boards and his vision to find open teammates. He is extremely tough to knock off the puck once he has control over it.