Czech center Roman Cervenka has made a long-awaited move to the NHL after signing a $3.8 million one-year contract with the Calgary Flames, the team has confirmed.
Cervenka, widely considered one of the best players outside North America, is a KHL top goalscorer and played every game of last month's Gagarin Cup final series that his Avangard Omsk team lost 4-3 to Dynamo Moscow.
The Flames see Cervenka, 26, as a player who can immediately improve the lineup, general manager Jay Feaster said.
“Our scouts in Europe identified him as someone who could slot into our top six forward group and play in the NHL as a top two line center,” Feaster said on the Flames website on Wednesday.
“Roman is a highly skilled player with great hands, excellent vision and the ability to score goals at an elite level of play.”
The Flames were reportedly among several NHL teams pursuing Cervenka. An "aggressive pitch" persuaded him to move to Calgary, Feaster said.
The language barrier may pose a problem for Cervenka, who has never played in an English-speaking country and does not give interviews in English.
Cervenka joined Avangard from Czech team Slavia Prague in 2010, and was top goalscorer in his first season in Russia with 31 goals, playing alongside two-time Stanley Cup winner Jaromir Jagr.
In 137 KHL games with Avangard, Cervenka notched up 130 points with 70 goals and was an all-star player in both his seasons in the KHL. He was a member of the Czech team that defeated Russia to win the 2010 world championship in Cologne, and won bronze with the national team last year.