LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have signed recently drafted defenseman Erik Cernak to a three-year entry-level contract, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today.
The 18-year-old Cernak (born May 28, 1997) is a 6-4, 207-pound native of Kosice, Slovakia who appeared in 43 regular-season games last year with Kosice in Slovakia’s top league and registered 13 points (5-8=13).
A second-round (43rd overall) selection of the Kings at the 2015 NHL Draft, Cernak has won two league championships with Kosice the last two seasons (2013-14 and 2014-15). He has represented Slovakia in the last two World Junior Championships (2014: 5 GP, 0-0=0, 4 PIM; 2015: 6 GP, 0-2=2, 4 PIM), including earning a bronze medal in 2015. He also competed in the World Junior Under-18 Championships in 2013 (6 GP, 0-2=2, 8 PIM) and 2014 (5 GP, 0-0=0, 6 PIM), serving as the captain in 2014. He was named a Top Three Player on his team in both years. Also in 2013, he represented Slovakia in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (5 GP, 0-0=0, 8 PIM) serving as the assistant captain.
Jon Rosen tweeted a quote from Mark Yannetti, co-director of amateur scouting, about Cernak's outlook for next year.
Yannetti, on Cernak, at the draft: "So, there are four or five different options we can deploy with him next year, all the way from...— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) July 14, 2015
Yannetti, 2/2: ...staying in Europe, to going to the American league or going to Juniors – if we sign him."— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) July 14, 2015
If you're looking for a comparable, 2014 first-rounder Adrian Kempe stuck around in Sweden's highest league for a full season before making his way to Manchester for the Calder Cup playoffs. So it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the Kings continue to let Cernak get his feet wet in Slovakia. If he comes to North America, he would probably play with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League; the AHL might be a bit above Cernak's abilities as an 18-year-old blueliner.
Regardless, Cernak immediately becomes the most exciting prospect in the Kings' defensive crop. Read what Sheng wrote about him at the draft: