NHL Draft: Kings Select Erik Cernak in Second-Round

Kings pickWith their first pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, No. 43rd overall, the Los Angeles Kings selected 6-fot-4 defenseman Erik Cernak from Slovakia.

The right shot defender was part of his native country’s World Junior team at the past two tournaments, earning a bronze medal in 2015, as well as playing for HC Kosice most recently. In 43 regular season games last year, Cernak put up five goals and recorded eight assists, then added an assist in seven playoff games.

From McKeen’s Draft Guide:

Won a bronze medal at the U20 World Juniors as the youngest member of Team Slovakia (6-0-2-2) .. endured a few shaky moments – including a one-game suspension for an undisciplined head shot – but did adjust well as the tournament progressed .. recorded 5 goals and 13 points in his first full season in the top Slovak league, after playing in 20 games for Kosice as a 16-year-old in `13-14, including seven playoff games .. missed the U18 Worlds, and an opportunity to pad his draft stock, to an injury suffered in the playoffs .. strong, hulking rearguard is quite mobile for his size .. can play a tough physical style – finishing checks utilizing a solidly-constructed frame and excellent overall body strength .. sturdy on his feet .. generates tremendous velocity on wristshots – with only a nominal backswing wind-up – backed by muscular wrists and arms .. propelled by a powerful legs and lower body .. generates deceptive momentum from shorter, more compact skating mechanics .. good pivots moving backwards – sustains solid gaps backing up defending attacks .. adopts series of quick, tiny steps during crossovers and transition sequences .. not a possession type – puckhandling is rudimentary – needs to develop his stickhandling and overall finesse skills .. hands appear to be on the stiff or rigid side .. needs to keep his feet moving throughout defending situations and can get caught turned around in down low situations – opts to use body to impede checker and can be over-pow- ered and beaten to the puck .. projects as a staunch defensive defence- man who can also contribute to a power play with his heavy shot.

From Future Considerations Draft Guide:

SCOUTING REPORT: Cernak is a physically imposing defender who can wreak havoc on the wall with his size and pure strength. He brings strong play at both ends of the ice.He is aware and has very fluid movements to go with his solid mobility. Makes good decisions with the puck and sees lots of options in front of him as he scopesout the ice and decides what to do with the puck. Cernak makes crisp, effortless passes through the neutral zone. His strong, crisp passes normally lead hisman, but can also be inconsistent at times; a challenge for those who try to receive them. Protects andshields the puck with his large frame but has moments where he can give it up with questionable decision on when to move it. Hasplenty of purpose when taking all shot types with a large amount of velocity behind each. Has the defensive smarts to pick up missed assignments and uses his stick to swat pucks away or poke themoff of sticks. Strong gaps when the opposition tries to enter the zone. Plays his man hard and will drive him into, or even through, theboards to show that he is a physical forceand should not be messed with. Not as tight to the man around the crease as he should be. With his size and strength, he can easily move his man out of traffic and away from the net. When he loses the puck, he is quick to pressure the man and give him no space tothe outside. A solid defense­‐first prospect with underrated offensive tools.

NHL POTENTIAL: Top­‐Four Two­‐Way Blue liner.

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