CALGARY - The Calgary Flames and their fans will find out what’s in a number from Roman Cervenka.
Cervenka, the prized free-agent signed from the KHL in May, had one request after agreeing to a contract with the Flames.
The product of the Czech Republic, who was an all-star in the KHL with Avangard Omsk the last couple of seasons, wanted to wear his favourite number: 10.
“I was born on the 10th (of December). I’ve played always with 10, since I was a kid,” Cervenka, 26, said through his agent, Ales Volek.
“My father also played with 10.
“I feel well with this number on my back and I’m happy if I can have it.”
Blake Comeau relinquished the jersey number without any compensation, and Cervenka made his debut with it Wednesday during a quick meet-and-greet with the local media after a couple of days in the city.
“After my first two days in Calgary, I have to say that I can see that this is a hockey town. Everything I heard about it — that the town is filled with hockey — (is true) and I’m very, very happy,” Cervenka said. “I’m really looking forward to playing for Calgary.”
Cervenka, who led the KHL in goal scoring in the 2010-11 season and had 23 goals and 39 points last season, signed a one-year contract worth US$925,000 in salary and worth up to $3.775 million with all the bonuses.
Being a one-year deal, it’s a low-risk, high-reward signing for the club, which inked him with the expectations he’ll play centre on one of the top two lines.
“We have high hopes for him,” Flames GM Jay Feaster said.
“We do think he’s NHL ready, and he is ready not just to step into the lineup but contribute.”
Cervenka said he first started believing he could play in the NHL after the 2009-10 season, in which he collected 30 goals and 73 points in the Czech league and played for his country at the Winter Olympics.
“It was always my dream, since I touched the ice,” he said. “I’ve always been looking forward to come to play in the NHL one day.
“The KHL is a very, very good league but it will probably never touch the level of the NHL, so that is why I decided to come and play in the NHL.”
The Flames contacted him early last season and tracked him all year.
“I really liked the interest of the Calgary Flames, how they talked to me and showed me the position I’m expected to get (as a role),” Cervenka said. “I really liked to see how they build the new team and I saw this is the best opportunity for me to come to the NHL.”
Feaster said the team is “making progress” in a deal with its last restricted free agent, goalie Leland Irving ... Feaster also said the trade market since the free-agency rush has been slow. “I think there are a number a reasons. One of them is the wait to see what Shane Doan will do, at least at the forward position, and I also think there’s the wait and see from the CBA perspective.”