Below is the second installment of my 2020 NHL Entry Draft profile series. These posts will be a regular update to share my scouting work for the upcoming draft in Montreal throughout the season and not just in June. Last month, I took a look at Finnish defender Kasper Puutio (one goal, eight points in 16 games with Swift Current of the WHL); you can read that at the following link:
Next up is Slovak forward Martin Chromiak.
Martin Chromiak - LW
HK Dukla Trencin [Slovakia] - 17 - Ilava, Slovakia
Chromiak has been somewhat of a prodigy in the Slovakian hockey ranks for the past several seasons. He’s consistently dominated junior levels for Trencin, playing two years above his age group, which has led to a full-time promotion to the pro ranks in 2019-20.
At the age of 16, Cromiak finished sixth in league scoring (second on HK Dukla Trencin) at the U20 level last season with 22 goals and 46 points in 39 games. During the 2018 World Junior Championship, Chromiak finished fourth on the Slovak team in scoring, but he outscored 2019 third-round pick Maxim Cajkovic in all international appearances last season with 22 points in 21 games.
Chromiak scored two goals and four points in four games at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and further cemented his impressive resume, leading Slovakia in scoring at the 2019 tournament and finishing tied for fifth in scoring with five points in four games.
The Slovak winger was actually selected just behind Kasper Puutio at the CHL Import Draft this summer by the Kingston Frontenacs but chose to play professionally in Slovakia, signing a three-year contract with HK Dukla Trencin in July.
In 18 games this season, Chromiak has four goals and five points, which leads all U20 players in Slovakia—he’s done this at 17 years old.
Chromiak’s Scouting Report
|Versatile in the offensive zone as a shooter or net-front presence||Has a fluid, strong skating stride but likes exceptional speed|
|Is mastering an elite wrist shot that relies on power over deception||Mentally understands strong forechecking but sometimes his feet don't act accordingly|
|Well-developed set of hands and stickhandling ability||Is always looking up the ice - this is good but some may knock his defensive awareness|
The shift below is from HK Dukla Trencin’s Halloween match just last week. The first thing that stands out to me is how Chromiak (#88 in yellow) drifts; it’s a fairly common criticism of young prospects to lack intent with their defensive zone movement. But, in the clip below, Chromiak’s intelligence is on full display.
Off the face-off, he provides a quick tap pass to his teammate which accelerates the breakout. He then quickly pivots up the ice and towards open space, properly anticipating his teammate lobbing the puck up the ice.
His forechecking is interesting at times. I like how he limits the defenders’ options; no matter which direction he wants to advance the puck, Chromiak is a quick crossover away from contesting it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite execute correctly but still nearly gets a prime scoring chance out of the next zone rush.
Chromiak is always very methodical with his positioning when not controlling the puck. It’s what allows him to always be a stride or two away from good puck support along the boards, an open shooting lane, or an effective screen.
All three examples of positioning are seen in the offensive zone shift below, and, to polish it off, the awareness to execute a no-look cycle pass below the goal line is impressive.
The clip below, from the 2019 U18 World Junior Championships, provides a good viewing of Chromiak’s skating stride and shooting ability. After contesting a weak pass from the opposing power play, Chromiak (#18 in white) is able to skate out of a 50/50 battle before forcing both defenders to cover the passing lane on the ensuing rush. He takes advantage of the open look and rifles one to the top corner.
The Slovak winger isn’t the flashiest player, but I think how he paces himself with and without the puck is incredibly mature for a 17-year-old. Aside from carrying an excellent wrist shot, Chromiak is a strong puck handler who can excel at digging them out of board scrums or tight spaces. He’s also certain to have excellent finish, as seen below.
Expected Pick Range
Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) over at silversevensens.com has done remarkable work compiling draft rankings and establishing an ‘Expected Pick Range’ from a variety of different sources. You can read about his methodology here, track the compiled rankings here, and use his data viz (embedded below) here.
My rankings were incorporated into this list for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, and I will be using Cudmore’s work again in place of my currently non-existent 2020 NHL Entry Draft rankings.
Chromiak’s Expected Pick Range: #32 to #90 — 2nd or 3rd round
At this point in the season, I see Chromiak as a probable third-round pick. Evaluating a 17-year old in the Slovak pro league hasn’t been a frequent assignment the past several years, so he has the opportunity to fly under the radar.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com.