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Alex Ciernik Scouting Report
Alex Ciernik, born on October 8th, 2004, from Wolfsburg, Germany, is a forward playing in Sweden. Ciernik, the 5’10” and 179 pound winger, despite being born in Germany, has played for Slovakia internationally. The 18-year-old has played between two Swedish leagues, with three teams. Playing between the J20 Nationell and the Allsvenskan, playing for Sodertalje (J20 and Allsvenskan) and Vasterviks IK (Allsvenskan). Across 18 J20 games, he scored nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points. Meanwhile, across 25 total Allsvenskan games, he scored three goals and nine assists for 12 points. He played better, production-wise, after being loaned out to Vasterviks.
With the impressive J20 production, plus the improved play at the Allsvenskan level, he has been ranked between the second and third rounds of the upcoming draft. Those rankings include being placed 36th by Smaht Scouting, 37th by Draft Prospects Hockey, 42nd by Dobber Prospects, 48th by Hockey Prospect Radio, 53rd by Recruit Scouting, 63rd by Bob McKenzie, 65th by Elite Prospects, 67th by Daily Faceoff, 70th by FCHockey, 72nd by Craig Button, 83rd by FloHockey, and 87th by McKeen’s Hockey.
Alex Ciernik Deep Dive
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born October 8th, 2004 — Wolfsburg, Germany
Height 5’11” — Weight 176 lbs [180 cm/80 kg]
Ciernik may not be considered a first-round talent. But some outlets have him ranked within the top-50, and even some within the top-40. What makes him intriguing to those higher on him? Meanwhile, others have him just barely inside the top three rounds. What could drive people away from looking Ciernik’s way?
Alex Ciernik’s Skating
Ciernik is an excellent skater. As a matter of fact, The Hockey Writers even claimed in their scouting report that he may be the best skater in the entire draft class. His skating looks so effortless, both with and without the puck. Not only that, but his top speed is excellent. He doesn’t need to skate in a straight line to be a great skater either. His edges are outstanding, and perhaps his best quality with his skating.
Ciernik’s first step is great as well, as he can pick up speed quickly. His crossovers generate a lot of power, and with his edges, he can utilize his explosiveness and crossovers to skate out of trouble. Then when you take into account that he can stickhandle really well at top speed on top of his pure skating ability, he becomes a threat with just his feet.
When it comes to his offensive game, Ciernik provides some strong qualities. When he has the puck, he has the skating to evade defenders and the hands to create space for himself and open passing lanes. As a passer, he can use his skating to change angles and open lanes to the slot, which he attacks often. But there are many times where he can rush a pass there before the lane is open, or he takes too long to make the pass and he turns the puck over. Learning to time his passes better will make him a dangerous playmaker.
As for his shot, he uses it very often. He provides good power and accuracy, though he still needs to get better in this area. He does a good job attacking the middle with the puck to get shots off, but similar to his passing, he can rush his shots or take too long to take one, and it leads to his chances being taken out. But the biggest concern outside of his timing is his off-puck play. He doesn’t do a good job finding open space and creating passing lanes for teammates. That’s an area that must improve to become an effective player at a higher level.
Alex Ciernik’s Transitional Abilities
Ciernik is an excellent transitional player. He loves carrying the puck up the ice himself, and his teammates tend to give him those opportunities to lead the way in that department. He’s efficient. But not only that, he is exciting and creative. When skating with the puck up ice, he fully utilizes his excellent skating abilities to make defenders look silly. He has nearly perfected the weight shift deke. That’s when you lean your body one way, then cut back the other. Ciernik loves using weight shift dekes, and his edges allow him to do it smoothly.
Not only can he fully take advantage of his skating, and specifically his edges, but also his smarts and hands. If a defender gets too close, he can make a move with his hands to get past him quickly. Not only that, but his vision and ability to find open skating lanes shines through. With his head up and quick play-reading ability with the puck, he can slip through the neutral zone like a hot knife through butter. Without the puck, he doesn’t do a very good job of getting open for a teammate, however. Not only that, but he can be caught trying to force an entry, which leads to him getting knocked off the puck.
Ciernik’s Defensive Zone Play
Ciernik is not the most active or effective defensive zone player. As a winger, he is tasked with watching the point, for the most part. While he does stay in his area, covering the point, he doesn’t really move his feet. Ciernik also doesn’t utilize his stick much either, and that allows pucks to get through to his point man. Additionally, due to his smaller frame and lack of engagement, he doesn’t help often down low, and when he does, he isn’t very effective.
While lacking physical traits, he is at least a good forechecker. He isn’t the most effective, and he won’t generate a lot of turnovers. However, he has no issues getting in and trying to apply pressure. Bulking up and becoming more involved on the forecheck moving forward will allow him to be more effective in this area. He already has the speed and skating to attack on the forecheck quickly, and give his opponents little space. He just needs that extra bite in his game.
Alex Ciernik’s Potential
Ciernik is not the most well-rounded player. However, his offensive game is very good. His shot is solid and his playmaking is largely praised. Working on the smaller details in that area, while continuing to grow as a more powerful skater will allow him to take his offence to the next level. Transitionally, he’s already excellent. There’s little reason to think he can’t be effective at higher levels in this area, especially if he gets stronger. Defensively, it’s hard to judge a winger. Especially a winger who lacks engagement. It could be a simple fix in terms of engagement that could make him more effective in his own end. Or, he’ll likely never be relied on too much in his own end.
With his skating and potential on the offensive and transitional aspects of the game, he looks like someone who can carve out a top-six role. However, with timing issues and poor play away from the puck (which is cited by several other outlets as well), it’s tough to truly project. His skating, transitional game, and offensive pace make it seem like he should fit in as a middle-six winger at the very least, in terms of true potential. But he is still raw offensively and his defensive game leaves a lot to be desired at this point. He’s more of a project.
Based on style and not a projection of skill, Ciernik is reminiscent of Alex Wennberg. Wennberg is an exceptional skater, with the ability to slip through traffic well. His skating allows him to control play when he has the puck on his stick. Wennberg can play as both a playmaker and a goalscorer as well, and is a great puck mover in his own right.
The one main difference between these two players is defensive zone abilities. While Wennberg is a smart and responsible two-way forward, Ciernik is not the most active or engaged. If he can become a more consistent offensive zone presence, starting with his timing, and continues working on his shot, he could be a solid offensive zone presence. That comes with his ability to attack with his skating and vision. Though he likely won’t become the defensive zone presence that Wennberg is, the skating, transitional and offensive attack styles are similar between them.
Raw stats via Elite Prospects
Main Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports