|Czarnik at Kings DevCamp (photo by K. Spatz)|
Earlier today we took a look at Kings prospect Andy Andreoff and his possible move from the OHL to the AHL this season.
You can definitely count on fellow Kings prospect, Robbie Czarnik, leaving the OHL though – he’s out of junior eligibility.
The 6-foot center was originally selected by Los Angeles in the third round of the 2008 NHL Draft. He began playing college hockey at the University of Michigan – who gave him a full scholarship at 15 years old – before moving on to play for the Plymouth Whalers.
Last season you didn’t hear much about him though, given that Tyler Toffoli was running away with the goal scoring title and Russian superstar-to-be Maxim Kitsyn came over to play in the OHL after the World Junior Championships in January.
So, I asked him, does he feel like the forgotten prospect?
“No, not really,” he said. “I don’t really look at it that way. They’re goal scorers, but I put up points too and I have another side of my game. I’m excited that I’m a two-way forward.”
When he was in LA for Development Camp in July he says there wasn’t one particular part of his game he was trying to show off. Instead, he wanted the coaching staff to see that he’s continued to make improvements in his all-around game – including “puck protection, competing at all times and defensive-zone coverage.”
Once Dev Camp was over though, he headed to Miami for a little R&R.
“My girlfriend lives down there,” he explained. “So, I went and visited her for a little bit. She goes to Michigan with me. I had never been down there before, but it was a good time. We went to the beach and spent time in downtown Miami, South Beach and then went to the Keys for a few days.”
Yes, even though he took his hockey game to the OHL, he still takes classes at Michigan. Czarnik says he has no ill feelings towards the school – in fact, he loves it. He just felt he could better develop his skills in the OHL.
Czarnik also likes to pester his girlfriend on twitter. Earlier this summer he tweeted quite a few ‘Go Mavericks’ blats during the NBA Finals.
“I don’t really care that much for basketball,” he admitted. “I was constantly giving her a bad time when they were playing Miami and she wasn’t too happy about it. I went against the Heat because she’s obsessed with the team. So, it was just a funny thing I would play with her about.”
He also likes to tweet about some of his favorite TV shows – like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dexter, American Idol and Gossip Girl…wait, what?
Unlike goalie Martin Jones, he doesn’t like to watch Bachelor or Bachelorette – saying, “I don’t believe any of that stuff is very real.”
Away from the tube, his high point of the summer may have been a recent trip to Northern Michigan.
“A few weeks ago, I went up to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I had never been up there before either. I got to see all the sand dunes and that was nice. It was really cool. It’s a very nice area.”
Yet, it hasn’t been all play since the OHL season ended.
“I’ve spent most of it in Michigan and doing my workouts with (former Kings forward, now collegiate scout) Mike Donnelly.”
Those workouts also included other Kings prospects and pros at times – guys like Kyle Clifford, Brandon Kozun, Jordan Weal, Jake Muzzin and Ray Kaunisto.
When those guys were in town, the group mainly worked on things like shooting drills, stick handling and learning the Kings off-ice workout regime.
He’s also spent countless hours shooting ‘heavy pucks’ with Donnelly all summer long. “We’ve been working on shooting and positioning my body to stay out of trouble,” said Czarnik. “I’ve also tried gaining weight and I was in the gym as much as possible.”
When camp opens on Saturday, he’s looking to reunite with some of the guys he’s bonded with during his previous trips to Los Angeles…and he’s prepared for some of the chirping that goes on too.
“Linden Vey always likes to add his two cents to everything,” said Czarnik, while laughing. “Kaunisto is always in the middle of stuff too.”
Things will probably go a little bit better this time around with Andreoff as well. “The minute the Kings drafted him I said ‘This will be interesting,'” remembered Czarnik. “When he came to Michigan to train with us this summer, he asked me ‘Who was the guy on your team who I’d always battle with in front of the net? I wanted to fight that guy!’ I was like, ‘Uh, that’s me,'” said Czarnik.
We wrapped up our pre-camp conversation with a new little game – name as many current or former Kings players as you can in 10 seconds…
“Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Anze Kopitar, Wayne Simmonds, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick…” and then he squeezed in one more before time ran out, “Dustin Brown.”
Seven players – not bad.
Well, earlier this summer, Justin Kemp, President of the Ontario Reign, shared several thoughts on what he perceives as the Kings’ lack of support for their ECHL affiliate (article here).
With that expected to improve this coming season, could Czarnik possibly be one of those three to four players the Kings might send to Ontario?
Perhaps, anything’s possible.
Or, he could be Manchester bound.
Time will tell.