Throughout my draft coverage for the Blackhawks, pre and post lottery, I have profiled many of the top available prospects. More recently, I have been writing about potential players in the 14-19 range for our second 1st round selection. Today though it has been apparent to me through conversations with one of my friends in the scouting world that Alex Ciernik is very likely going to be a target by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ciernik is an undersized Slovakian winger (born in Germany) that is a tremendous skater. Right now, Ciernik is projected to go anywhere in the 40-60 range of the draft, however I believe that he could sneak into the late 1st round.
Alex has NHL bloodlines as his father Ivan has played not only in the NHL, but all over the world. That has also led to Alex living in many parts of the world and getting acclimated to different leagues and styles of play. His game has benefited from this as his best traits are skating, spacing, and puck skill. His ability to play with more experienced centers that quickly use give and go moves with a speeding winger translate to the score sheet with Ciernik only being 18.
When playing with his age group, Ciernik has been above the competition whether it was in the WJC U18, Hlinka-Gretzky, or more recently the WJ/U-20 where he had 2 goals in his 5 games as an 18 year old draft eligible.
Below is an amazing breakdown of his game by Top Slovak Prospects at www.youtube.com:
Now firmly in the Hockey Allsvenskan, Ciernik has produced 12 points in 25 games split between Sodertalje SK and Vasterviks IK. That kind of production from an 18 year old wing is a good sign of how he projects going forward.
There is also the Connor Bedard factor here for me as I see Ciernik that can be a skilled winger for Bedard that he could potentially play with. After really looking into Alex's game, numbers, and life I can't believe how low I had him. For me, this is one of the more exciting players that someone will get outside the top 20 this draft.
This is a player I would keep an eye on as the 1st round starts to wind down if I were a Blackhawks fan. If he makes it to pick #35 I firmly believe he will be a strong candidate for Kyle Davidson and Chicago. I could also see our brass not waiting and move up a few slots to grab him before round 2 begins, that's how much I think he fits what they are looking for.