Nearly every time we start to think, ‘Alright, nothing too weird is going to happen this week’ — something unexpected turns up. In the latest chapter of rolling with the hockey punches in 2021, LA Kings recent draft pick Martin Chromiak has reportedly signed an AHL tryout contract with the Ontario Reign.
Now, there’s a little explanation due here, even if there are still some questions to be answered about this transaction.
For starters, AHL tryout contracts are fairly typical for junior-aged players at this time of year. It allows younger players from the CHL the opportunity to get a few weeks of pro hockey experience without activating their Entry Level Contract or losing their amateur status. Aidan Dudas and Jaret Anderson-Dolan are two recent examples who did this with the Reign. JAD joined the Reign for five games at the end of the 2017-18 season before eventually returning to WHL Spokane the following season. Dudas played six games in Ontario after wrapping up his 2018-19 OHL season – again, before joining Owen Sound for one more year of junior hockey the following year.
Players drafted out of college are not afforded this same luxury, as they’re basically only allowed to attend NHL Development Camps (in the summer) until they declare they’re leaving school and turning pro. See here for more information on rules surrounding prospects.
Chromiak was believed by many to be a steal for the Kings when they selected him in the fifth round, as those who follow the OHL closely felt he should have been off the board before the third round ended.
At the time, Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti noted Chromiak’s high hockey IQ.
Chromiak has a high level hockey sense. Came over to North America last season, midyear, and was good for more than a point-per-gane. Slightly above average skater. — Yannetti
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) October 7, 2020
Another scout noted, “From the offensive blueline on down, he is money. His skating is better than some give him credit for, his small-area game is outstanding, he has good core strength. There’s lots to like.”
Playing for multiple teams in the same season is nothing new for Chromiak. During his draft year, he spent the first part of the season playing in Europe, then finished things out in the OHL, recording 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) in 28 games.
— Allan Etmanski (@allanetmanski) January 25, 2021
With the OHL shut down this season, Chromiak again played for Trencin Dukla back in his native Slovakia, posting 19 points (7G, 12A) in 32 games. He also was one of the featured forwards for Slovakia at the World Junior Championship in late December – even scoring a goal against Team Canada, not something very many people were able to do in the tournament.
Just this past weekend, he again played for Team Slovakia’s U20 team, this time against their Czech Republic counterparts, in a pair of exhibition games in the absence of this year’s 5 Nation Tournament (normally scheduled around this time each season, as sort of a warm-up for next year’s WJC).
And the 18-year-old forward set twitter on fire with one of his goals.
The biggest question in all of this is the timing.
While the Reign are expected to lose forward Quinton Byfield starting next Monday, which would create a need for an extra forward, quarantine protocols will come into play here. Assuming he only needs to quarantine for about seven days once he arrives in the U.S., the timing could almost work out perfectly in sort of a one-for-one swap, from a roster perspective. However, he’ll likely need to spend at least a little time practicing with the Reign and working to provide coach John Wroblewski a certain comfort level before putting him in the lineup.
Ontario Reign only have 10 games remaining this season:
4/24 at Bako
4/25 vs SJ
4/29 at COL
4/30 at COL
5/1 at COL
5/5 vs SD
5/7 at SD
5/9 vs COL
5/14 at TUC
5/16 at TUC
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) April 17, 2021
Time is running out, though. The Reign only have ten games remaining this season, and two of those will likely be played before Chromiak has a chance to be cleared through protocol.
We’ll have more on this developing story on Tuesday.
CHL scout Mark Seidel was on Kings Of The Podcast last week talking about Chromiak, Byfield, Akil Thomas, and Arthur Kaliyev. If you missed that episode, a replay can be found here.
For even more on Chromiak, see below for our article from 2020 NHL Draft weekend.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) October 8, 2020
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