Roman Horak’s test drive as an Edmonton Oilers’ forward will be in the fast lane. The farmhand forward will play left-wing with centre Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle on a second line against the Coyotes in Phoenix on Tuesday (game time is 7 p.m.). If he’s lucky, maybe he’ll ring in 2014 with a goal in his 15 minutes or so of playing time. Horak is getting a shot to play with some offensive threats, something lots of American Hockey League call-ups don’t get. It’s often fourth-line duty, but Oilers coach Dallas Eakins isn’t going that route. “My first game in an Oilers jersey is going to be huge for me,” said Horak, who was acquired in the Ladislav Smid trade with the Calgary Flames in early November. “This is a big opportunity for me. When you get a chance like I am, playing with Gagner and Eberle, I’ve got to take it and, hopefully, I can establish myself as a regular NHL player.” Eakins admitted that the game will be “a bit of an audition” for Horak, but doesn’t want him “playing tight.” “I saw him lots in Abbotsford (with Calgary’s farm team) when I was coaching my former American League team. He’s got skill, speed and he’s tenacious on the puck. I’ve tried to put him into a position where he can succeed, not on a fourth line. “I’m moving Jesse (Joensuu) off that line, but not because he hasn’t played well. I just want to give Roman a shot. He’ll get some second power-play (time), too,” said Eakins. Horak, 22, was originally drafted by the New York Rangers, but his rights were transferred to Calgary in a deal for unhappy defenceman Tim Erixon, who didn’t feel he’d get a shot to be a regular with the Flames as soon as he wanted.
Horak makes Oilers’ debut on second line
Edmonton Journal | Jan 2