The need for a mobile right-handed defenseman with strength, and a big frame is something Detroit will value. With uncertainty on how their defensive prospects will turn out, the Red Wings will likely put a defenseman in their position of need this year.
Erik Cernak, the 18-year-old Slovakian blue-liner fits the profile of a big, mobile, right-handed defenseman who can play in all situations. He was named one of the top three players on his team in back-to-back years for the U18 WJC for team Slovakia in 2012-2013, and 2013-2014. A recent KHL first round pick, Cernak is certainly a strong defensive defenseman, but has a ceiling to become an impact two-way player in his future.
Name: Erik Černák
Born: May 28, 1997 -- Kocise, Slovakia
Weight: 203 lbs.
Big (and I mean huge for his age), strong, and mobile for his size, Erik Cernak is one of the up-and-coming defensemen hailing from Slovakia. He's a smart player in his own zone, exceptional at sweeping the puck out of his zone and clearing the front of the net using his strength and his long reach. He's an alluring target, seeing that he just turned 18 years old today, and has an NHL-ready frame.
Personally I think Detroit will certainly have him on his radar, with his size, mobility, and his right-shot, I'm sure Red Wings management would gush over a player like Cernak. He was drafted 14th overall by the KHL's Slovan Bratislava in 2014, so there is possibility that he sees time there in the next year or two. While I'm not very high on the KHL, it would be a great tester for Cernak.
He's mobile, but when I watch him I see him having a few issues with his skating. Surely that is something that can be developed at his age. Cernak played some time on the power play in recent years, so having a guy with his size and shot could be a valuable tool to any special teams core.
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Here is what ESPN's Corey Pronman had to say about his decision with Detroit taking Erik Cernak:
The Red Wings have built a very strong farm system, and while I'd argue they're lighter at defense than forward, this pick comes down to upside. Cernak is one of the biggest home run swings in the draft as a big, mobile, skilled, physical defenseman. There's uncertainty around him, but with depth in the pipeline, this is a great shot to take.
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He'll certainly be available at 19th overall, and judging by Pronman's mock draft, he would be a fantastic pick when Detroit is on the clock.
Usually whenever I see a defenseman this big, my knee-jerk reaction is to think Jonathan Ericsson.. However, even at 18 years old, I think it's safe to say that Cernak is smarter with the puck than Ericsson. He coul be a guy who can log big minutes at even strength, and both sides of special teams.
Cernak was a guy who was on my radar, and after seeing Pronman's draft choices (beware, there is a paywall), I am comfortable with saying that he could add to the seemingly thin scope of Detroit's defensive prospects. Pronman did not that there is "uncertainty" about Cernak, and my opinion on why he said this could have something to do with his ability to become a mobile offensive-minded defenseman.