After all of the consternation, stress and anger I went through last night writing the article on Tom Hicks, news came down this afternoon that immediately brightened my day.
After nearly a year of wrangling with visas and transfer issues, it seems that Ondrej Roman will finally get his shot in the AHL. Mark Stepneski hinted on it last week, but today the Stars officially announced they signed Roman to a three-year, entry level contract and that he would report immediately to the Texas Stars.
If anyone knows me, they know that Roman has been a player I've been excited about for a very, very long time. Because he's spent most of his time playing in the Czech Republic, he's been flying under the radar and hasn't received as much attention as he's due. Hockey's Future ranks Roman as the Stars' 5th-best prospect, and with Jamie Benn in the NHL I'd even move him up to top-three, behind only Ivan Vishnevskiy and Scott Glennie.
Roman was a leader and a key player for the Spokane Chiefs in 2008 when they won the Memorial Cup, and he was long considered the best passer in the entirety of the WHL. He is fast, intelligent, and despite being a bit lanky (6-0, 170), uses leverage very well. If you've ever seen him play, you know that he's an extremely deft puck handler, especially in traffic. Think of Jamie Benn, but better. He has a very good, deceptive shot but he's been known as a playmaker his entire career. He makes everyone on his team elevate their level of play and those that play with him usually put up some big numbers. If he'd just shoot the puck more, then his stats could be meteoric.
Here's a highlight. Roman is #21; be sure to pay attention as he starts to go behind the net with the puck.
He's going to need some time in the AHL, refining his game and hopefully learning to shoot more, but this is a player who should become a staple in the Stars lineup a few years down the road. Career stats and Dallas Stars press release after the jump.
Frisco, Tex. - The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has signed left wing Ondrej Roman (first name pronounced AHN-drey) to a three-year entry level contract. He will report to the Texas Stars, Dallas' primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Roman, 20, has spent the first part of this season with Vitkovice HC of the Czech Republic League, where he has collected one goal and two assists. The Ostrava-Poruba, Czech Republic, native skated in 32 games in 2008-09 for Spokane (WHL), scoring 32 points (10g, 22a). Roman recorded four goals and four assists while representing his country in the 2009 World Junior Championship.
The 6-0, 173-pound left wing, has played in 174 games in three seasons (2006-09) with Spokane, notching 29 goals and 112 assists for 141 points. In 39 WHL playoff games, he tallied 11 goals and 19 assists. During the 2008 postseason, Roman helped the Chiefs win the WHL Championship and defeat the Kitchener Rangers for the Memorial Cup Championship. He was Dallas' fifth round selection (136th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.