Calgary Flames: Are Roman Cervenka, Mikael Backlund the Centers of the Future?

By Franklin Steele
Roman Cervenka Calgary Flames
Anne-Marie Sorvin – US Presswire

The Calgary Flames have been looking for a rock star center ever since they acquired a rock star wing in Jarome Iginla back in 1995. Since then, every time a decent free agent pivot hits the open market he’s been linked to this team—if only Iggy had a center! Imagine the damage.

Well, he’s 35 years old now and his days as a 40-goal scorer might be behind him. That’s not to say that Iginla isn’t a guy that can get the job done—he’s still capable of putting up 60 or 70 points during a full-length campaign. Don’t let the slow start fool you. This is still a player that can bring it for the Flames.

And while the team didn’t have the cap space to bring in super-highly touted free agents, they still were able to land a bit of help in Jiri Hudler. Calgary also infused a veteran lineup with a little bit of youth. Sven Baertschi was outstanding in junior and has had his first full-length (kinda’) NHL season shortened by injury thus far.

Baertschi may have caught the injury bug from Mikael Backlund, who was supposed to become a go-to guy last season before injuries cut his legs out from under him and ruined his timing all together. Backlund is once again struggling to stay healthy in 2013, as he sustained a sprained MCL in early February and is expected to miss at least a month.

While the center wasn’t exactly blowing up the score sheet before his injury, he had shown progress as he’d scored three goals and tacked on an assist. The goals must be a nice surprise for the Flames, as Backlund is mostly known for his speed and shift play making ability.

If he can stay healthy (and that’s a huge if at this juncture) he could turn into a top-six forward for Calgary for years to come.

Roman Cervenka hasn’t exactly avoided injury either, but he appears to be shaking off a blood clot in his leg nicely, and is slowly adjusting to the North American game.

He’s only on pace for 25 points, but that isn’t half-bad for a fresh European player adjusting to the speed and physicality of the NHL. After a slow start Cervenka has cashed in for five points through nine games for Calgary in February—a positive sign for a Flames team that pinned a lot of hope on the Czech center after bring him over to the States as a free agent.

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