Ruzicka Adds Depth Down the Middle

The Arizona Coyotes got stronger down the middle with the waiver wire pickup of Adam Ruzicka.
Tampa Bay Lightning v Calgary Flames
Tampa Bay Lightning v Calgary Flames / Derek Leung/GettyImages

Florida wasn't particularly sunny for the Arizona Coyotes, who dropped both games in a back-to-back set against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this week, being outscored 12-5 along the way. They have one more challenge as part of their three-game road trip (a visit to Carolina on Saturday) before the All-Star break.

One silver lining for the Coyotes came in the waiver wire addition of former Calgary Flame Adam Ruzicka. With Barrett Hayton (upper-body injury) still out for the foreseeable future and Travis Boyd (torn pectoral muscle) likely done for the season, the 24-year-old Slovak offers some much-needed two-way depth down the middle.

Although Ruzicka stands out for his 6'4" frame, he bears more of a skill-oriented, finesse game than a physical one. As such, he was largely miscast in a depth, bottom-six role in Calgary. Now in Arizona, he expects to slot in on one of the top two lines, with Jack McBain and/or Alex Kerfoot likely sliding down the lineup.

Adam Ruzicka
Vegas Golden Knights v Calgary Flames / Leah Hennel/GettyImages

Ruzicka's numbers don't jump off the page, boasting just three goals and six assists in 39 games this year with a career-best 20 points in 44 games a year ago. However, those numbers came while playing limited minutes for the Flames on depth lines. Now poised to play in between the likes of Jason Zucker and Lawson Crouse or possibly even Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz, the 2017 fourth-rounder will have the chance to showcase a more offensive dimension.

No, Ruzicka doesn't suddenly address all of the Coyotes' center woes. It does, however, signal that GM Bil Armstrong may view this team as being close enough to warrant some upgrades. Sure, he may have cost no assets and only marginal money (Ruzicka is earning $762,500 this season before hitting restricted free agency), but he also could be the small acquisition to signal more help on the way.

One can dream, anyway.