The Calgary Flames have definitely cooled down from the frantic movement of the early offseason, but General Manager Brad Treliving and co. are not done making moves. Smack dab in the middle of the NHL preseason, the team has snagged 26-year-old winger Radim Zohorna off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The six-foot-six, 220-pound native of Czechia has 25 games of NHL experience under his belt, all with the Penguins. However, he has spent most of his pro career in the Czech pro leagues and has also played 51 games with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins over the last two seasons. The left-handed shooter hails from Havlickuv, Czech Republic, a mere 7,787km from Calgary.
Very Positive Statistics
Zohorna will be competing with a multitude of other Flames forwards for a roster spot likely somewhere within the bottom six. The team recently trimmed down the roster to 28 players, including 15 forwards, two of which (Sonny Milano & Cody Eakin) are on PTOs, making Zohorna’s life a tad easier. The winger brings a nice blend of physicality and offence to the table, made evident by his production in limited ice time. He has totalled four goals and six assists for 10 points in his 25 total games, impressive given he averages only 09:55 of playing time per night. Zohorna throws around his larger body a decent amount with 30 hits and also has a notable nine-to-one takeaway/giveaway ratio demonstrating his responsibility with the puck.
The Flames also got themselves an analytically superb player with this pickup: Zohorna has recorded a career 54.5% Corsi For rating, meaning while he is on the ice his team is dominating in puck possession. He utilizes his big frame not to crash and bang but rather to gain possession of the puck and shield it to maintain dominion of it. In his last Czech League season of 2020-21, he was a point-per-game player registering 22 points in 21 games and has exhibited a similar prowess in the AHL, where he has a career average of 0.63 points per game. He started over 60% of his shifts in the defensive zone last season, meaning his coaches in Pittsburgh had a lot of trust in him.
The winger is quite versatile, as he can play either side of the ice and has even won the occasional face-off when called upon. His size and greenness in the league would understandably lead most to place him in a fourth or third-line role, but with his puck protection and offensive numbers he could find himself elsewhere. Darryl Sutter could park him in front of the net on the second power-play unit, for example. Also judging by the aforementioned defensive capabilities, he could also provide a spark to a penalty kill line. Zohorna also provides value in financial affordability with a league-minimum $750,000 contract.
What Happens With the Roster?
The Flames now have a nice variety of players to fill out the forward core, and a good amount of size with Zohorna, six-foot-four Adam Ruzicka and Brett Ritchie, and six-foot-three Milan Lucic all in the mix. Because of NHL Waiver Rules, if the Flames place Zohorna back on waivers, Pittsburgh can immediately claim him and assign him to their AHL team. Therefore, it makes little sense for the team to do this, and one can pretty much assume he will be on the opening night roster. His contract will also be up at the conclusion of the season, putting a bit more pressure on him to perform this year. Regardless of if he stays up on the Flames roster or finds himself down with the AHL Calgary Wranglers, Zohorna will undoubtedly be a valuable asset to the organization.