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Draft Profile 2k20: Martin Chromiak bet on himself, and has made a late showcase of his real talent

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A Slovakian wunderkind has the potential of a fun NHLer if he continues his wild career path. Should Boston bring him in?

Before we go anywhere, I just wanted to clarify before Wednesday that I will be doing a Monday-Wednesday schedule of draft profiles until Phase 1 of the NHL Draft scheduled on the 26th of June, and then if the draft proceeds as normal, our coverage will be as normal. This is done to keep from burnout from staring at youtube videos and highlight reels in formats too archaic for the human mind to comprehend, and also to allow for each batch to breathe.


Analysis:

In spite of the caliber of player that sometimes makes it to the NHL; including the Bruins’ very own captain, Slovakia isn’t on great footing these days as an international hockey powerhouse. Part of that has been long-standing rumors and accusations of corruption in the Slovak hockey federation that came to a head in 2015 with an out and out player mutiny, and the federation being effectively rebooted, now with former Bruin Miroslav Satan at the head of the pack and eager to start building the country’s hockey infrastructure back up. Regrettably, still some players in their system have had to find interest from the NHL by leaving their homes.

One such player to shine after going abroad, is Martin Chromiak.

Chromiak’s 2019 started with him in Slovakia at the highest level as a 17 year old, gathering a respectable 6 points in a league of actual adults, and then going halfway through the season to the OHL with the Kingston Frontenacs, where he and local wunderkind (and probable 2022 first overall pick) Shane Wright really hit it off, and a funny thing started to happen for Chromiak.

He never stopped getting points. And why would he? He was with his best buddy Shane Wright, and he had all the talent to keep up with him. Now, you might say “well yeah, playing with a kid like Shane Wright who’s probably going to be McDavid 2.0 will make anybody look good”, but what if I told you it’s a Bergeron-Marchand situation?

By all accounts, it seems like playing with Chromiak somehow improved Shane Wright’s scoring acumen.

Chromiak’s been a mature player for quite some time, and his time in the OHL has only solidified what playing in the U20 leagues at age 16 has given him: he’s an absurdly smart player with the kind of positioning that makes him both a great teammate in either zone, and a terror on the forecheck, as he’s always trying to be the next man in a cycle when he doesn’t have the puck, or create space and find an open teammate when he does, and he’s willing to put some serious acceleration behind his stride in short order to make sure that space isn’t wasted.

Combine that with a powerful, accurate shot, video-game-like hands, and a sneaky, laserlike passing ability, and you have a player that can make you pay dearly for screwing up in any end. Put that on a line with the coolest name in the sport and 2022’s favorite son? And the Kingston Frontenacs had one of the more lethal lines in Canadian Junior, even in the Frontenacs themselves weren’t much to write home about.

As for negatives, Chromiak couldn’t stand out much in a non-dominant Slovakian league and team, and missed the cut for the World Juniors where he’d have likely thrived, but couldn’t garner enough interest. Further, one area he needs to work on his skating, but not in a “he’s slow” sort of criticism. His speed, technique, turning and acceleration is fine, but his actual strides are a bit...raw, and not the smoothest, and that can rob him of some of his own potential since sometimes his brain and his hands are thinking the game faster than his feet can carry him to it.

Further, his defensive skill is clearly a bit of a work in progress. He’s totally willing to chip in and win battles, but he tends to come off as a bit impatient; always looking up ice in order to spring the counterattack, and while he’s willing quickly make up for any mistakes he makes, he isn’t prioritizing his backcheck as much as he could or even should be. Drafting him means trying to complete his skating skills, shoring up his defensive acumen, and ensuring that he finishes his next year in Kingston where he can show what he’s really made of. And of course, the big X factor...if whether or not you think playing with Shane Wright made him better than he was. We didn’t have playoffs to see if he could have individual heroism, so what you have is what you have.

Chromiak was considered to be a middle third round pick at the beginning of the year, but his work with Kingston this year has had him rocketing up the board into being a 2nd rounder, even if it’s a later selection. A lot of people seem to think he’s right up Boston’s alley (Colin Cudmore from Silver Sens’ fancy math google sheet seemed to believe Boston will be in the perfect position to pick him for months), and given the way he can play when he’s on his horse? And that he has still so much room to grow and is one of the younger guys in the draft? I would happily welcome another Slovak winger we can all surely enjoy their development together

Rankings:

Statistics

Year Team League Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM
Year Team League Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM
2017-18 HK Dukla Trencin U16 Slovakian U16 11 17 12 29 6
HK Dukla Trencin U18 Slovakian U18 22 16 15 31 10
2018-19 HK Dukla Trencin U18 Slovakian U18 4 3 9 12 2
HK Dukla Trencin U20 Slovakian U20 39 22 24 46 8
HK Dukla Trencin Tipsport Extraliga 2 0 1 1 0
2019-20 HK Dukla Trencin Tipsport Extraliga 32 5 1 6 12
Kingston Frontenacs OHL 28 11 22 33 2
EliteProspects.com and OHL.com