Roman Empire: Horak looks to stick with the Flames

Roman Horak is quickly allowing Calgary Flames fans to forget about Tim Erixon.

Horak, who came over from the New York Rangers for the highly touted Erixon, has been 2011’s version of TJ Brodie – in other words a rookie who has surprised everyone by sticking around in the big city.

With today’s demotions of both Paul Byron and Lance Bouma, it seems almost a given that Horak will make his NHL debut next Saturday against the Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins.

Horak is 20-years-old and was fully expected to head to Abbotsford, but instead has beaten out players like Bouma, Byron, and Greg Nemisz – all players that have some NHL experience – and stuck around with the Flames.

I have unfortunately not been able to see a whole lot of Horak play due to other commitments like work, school, and what not, but from what I’ve heard he has been impressive.

The thing I know I like without seeing him play, is simply put, his age. He is 20-years-old, which would make him the youngest player on the roster by two years – Mikael Backlund is 22.

If he is slotted in as the third/fourth line centerman, that would effectively mean that two of the team’s top four centermen are 22 and younger, which is a drastic shift from years past when senior citizens ruled the roost.

The youth movement is coming slowly, but at least it’s on its way.

Now, the realistic chance of Horak staying with the team past the first week is, well, not good. With the likes of Morrison, Jackman and PL3 due back from various injuries and suspensions, the easy demotion becomes Horak on a two-way contract.

This brings me to a point of annoyance with a portion of the team. (Flames Nation’s Kent Wilson agrees)

Ivanans, Jackman, and PL3. Do we really need three guys that can chuck the knuckles? Especially with the idea of hitting, much less fighting being slowly taken out of the game by Sheriff Shanahan.

My hope is that if Ivanans does come back he is shipped to the Abby, and if not then he is simply put on the IR. I see no need for PL3. He is dirty (SEE: first pre-season tilt), and he will most likely cause more harm to the team than good.

Jackman can do a better job playing the same 4th line, sometimes-3rd line role, and he should be the only one sticking around, assuming he comes back fully healthy.

With a healthy Jackman and Morrison, not to mention Bourque and Iginla, the Flames sit with 13 forwards not including Horak.

You don’t have to be a math major to figure out what’s going to happen here unless something drastic occurs with one of the overpaid veterans -- like Stajan or Hagman being traded/waived/demoted, with an outside chance of seeing Kostopoulous being sent down.

Unless more injuries pile up, Horak will be play between five and ten games with the Flames and then head to the interior of B.C.

But regardless of what he does this season, it’s a welcome surprise to the Flames prospect cupboard to have the young Czech centerman showing some promise at his age.

And, as I stated before if he does make an impact with the club in this year, or in any years to come, the Erixon snub won’t seem as bad.