Photo by Steven Christy
This weekend Anton Lander was a bit gimpy. The top centerman on the farm was bothered by an ankle situation from Friday evening’s game. Word is that he is fine, but wanted to take it a bit easy on Saturday. He was a healthy scratch. This paved the way for some serious 20:00+ minutes for recently acquired centerman, Roman Horak.
Horak has always been an interesting prospect while with the Calgary Flames, but probably like Lander, his organization had seen enough to get a good sense of what he had to offer. They threw him into the mix w/ the Smid trade, and the Barons are now tending to his prospect status.
Here is the deal with Horak. He is a centerman with scoring ability, and winsome in the face off dot, at least in the two games we watched him play against his former team in Oklahoma City. On Saturday evening he was the forward with the most ice time, the centerman that took the most face offs, and was a mainstay on the power play. For the full weekend’s duration he netted 3 assists to add to his 1 goal from Tuesday mornings game. That’s a four point start in just three games, but it is the small things that add up for Horak, at least in a small sample size.
Two games, and a face off win percentage well over 50% (more around 68%), and that’s exactly what you want a centerman to do. I don’t track the specifics of where/how/when those faceoffs are taken, but if memory serves me correctly, he spent equal time at both ends in the dot. I really like the win percentage, but I also really like what he brings in the two-way game.
Defensively stout, offensively capable, he isn’t a liability at 5on5 or 5on4 or even at 4on5, he’s an intelligent player through the middle. Like Lander, he has NHL experience, a full 82 games of it. 5 goals and 13 assists is the total. That’s not too shabby, but not mind-blowing numbers you would expect. However, as far as depth is concerned having both Lander (who’s at 68 games played in the NHL; 2-5-7) and Horak is a thing that the Oilers haven’t had in a while. Could Will Acton be knocked down a peg on the Oilers line for a guy like Horak? Yes, and probably.
It will be interesting to watch Roman play in the next couple of games. Primarily in the 5 game road swing that begins Tuesday, and concludes just 10 days later. Trips to San Antonio, Lake Erie, and Texas will give us a good looksee at this prospect, and certainly the team as a whole.
Welcome to the depth chart, Roman Horak.