Kingston Frontenacs #8
The Kingston Frontenacs made Martin Chromiak their first selection at the 2019 CHL Import Draft, taking a forward out of Slovakia with hopes of helping a young Kingston Frontenacs offence looking for goals.
Chromiak comes with an already impressive hockey resume having played against older players most of his hockey life thus far.
After a 2018-19 season that saw the club score an Ontario Hockey League record-low 144 team goals, with the leading scorer on the team finishing the season with 19, Kingston’s already improving 2019/20 offence got instantly better with the arrival of their newest weapon in January.
Over his 28 game 2019/20 OHL rookie season, the 6 foot, 180-pound forward lived up to advanced billing registering 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points.
Almost immediately his NHL-ready shot became another weapon in Head coach Kurtis Foster’s arsenal as he looks to find scoring-depth. The former NHL-er Foster spoke on Chromiak after his first game: “He looks comfortable already, looks poised an under control. He’s been very impressive so far.”
Associate coach Luca Caputi described the soon-to-be 18-year-old OHL rookie after his first game as well: “He looks unreal. He makes his teammates around him better. He’s got a great shot and I expected a seamless transition for him to the OHL, and you can tell he’s played against men.”
As a coach and ex-pro, Caputi has seen many talented players and lines in his career: “The sky is the limit for him and Shane and Wiz, they have some chemistry right now and we hope it grows for us.”
Chromiak, stepping in on a line with second-year fellow winger Zayde Wisdom and rookie sensation Shane Wright at centre, has provided the Frontenacs offence with a potently dangerous trio that can play two-way hockey. Comprised of good hockey sense, passing, and shooting, they are still hard on opponents when they don’t have the puck.
Possessing an pro-level shot, the right-handed shooter was ranked 30th in the latest NHL Central Scouting List, joining Kingston teammates Zayde Wisdom and Jake Murray as ranked OHL players at the upcoming (date to be announced) 2020 NHL Draft.
Before the Frontenacs and OHL
The Ilava, Slovakian native was born August 20, 2002, quickly making his way through the minor hockey-ranks in his home country. After playing for the Slovakia Selects U14 squad in 2015-16, registering a goal and three points in six games, Chromiak joined the elite HK Dukla Trencin program in 2016-17.
He appeared in 16 games with the U16 team and scored 16 goals and 22 assists for 38 points. With the U18 team, he also played seven games against players as much as four years older, scoring three goals and six points.
In 2017-18 the then 15-year-old again played with both the Dukla Trencin U16 and U18 teams where he totalled 60 points in 33 games including 33 goals and 27 assists between the two squads.In 11 games with the U18 team in the playoffs he had six goals and four assists. He also scored six goals and seven points for Slovakia during international competition.
Chromiak took another step up in 2018-19 competing against adult-aged players. After appearing in four more games with 12 points with the U18 team, he was then called on to play with the U20 team showing success again. He would score 22 goals with 24 assists in 39 games.
In 15 games in the playoffs that season, he had nine goals and eight assists showing he can contribute in big games and wants to be counted on. Representing Slovakia internationally, he added 10 goals and 12 assists for 21 points.
Chromiak also played in the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup appearing in four games and adding two goals and two assists. He played two games for Dukla in the pro-men’s league as well adding an assist.
He again played at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2019 where he netted two goals and five points in four games.
Coming to Kingston in 2020
The 2019-20 season saw Chromiak start the campaign in pro-Slovakia league with Dukla Trencin before making the decision to come to the OHL in January of 2020 to join the Frontenacs.
He made his Kingston debut on Jan 2 in Ottawa and less than nine minutes into his OHL career he was on the board.
After heading to the net, he registered his first goal, tipping a Braden Hache point shot, and also added an assist to register a multi-point game.
Hache, like other rookies on the squad, was impressed by his day-to-day commitment at being a dedicated teammate with a positive attitude. “Chromer bought a calm energy to the team,” the defenceman said. “He laid low, was always in a good mood and was there to play. He’s a very talented player and it really showed that when coming to the Fronts.”
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) January 3, 2020
Chromiak made his home debut at the Leon’s Centre on Jan 3 vs Erie Otters. Showing off his shot to Kingston fans, he would score his first home goal off a one-timer shot burying a feed from Zayde Wisdom during a 3-2 win Jan 6 over Owen Sound Attack. He would go on to score goals in three straight games.
In his first 10 games played with Kingston, he had 12 points (6G, 6A) and was a key component of a dangerous line formed with rookie phenom Shane Wright and second-year power-forward Zayde Wisdom. The trio combined for 34 points on 16 goals and 18 assists in those 10 games together as they team began to steadily climb back into playoff contention.
Chromiak has average speed, but his strength on his feet and ability to turn tightly gives him the ability to make up for any lack of foot speed. He uses his body excellent along the wall to help forecheck.
His two-way game is refined and is a responsible player in his end holding an even rating while being an offensive threat every time he touches the puck. With a strong hockey sense, he utilizes his intelligence to get himself in good positions to feed off teammates. Always ready to shoot, he has registered at least one SOG every game played while averaging 2.85 shots per game over the season.
He also isn’t afraid to use his teammates. With his own potentially lethal shot, it’s created fits for opposition to have to defend his line.
That’s 31 goals for Wright! On pace to outscore McDavid in their Exceptional Status seasons! pic.twitter.com/c77DSCqieM
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) February 9, 2020
Coach Foster added: “He looks comfortable already, looks poised and under control. He’s been very impressive so far and you can tell he’s played professional hockey before against men.”
As far as the shooting goes, Foster said he has a innate ability to change angles with his shot as he releases it from the stick causing frustrating for goalies to line him up.
Hache acknowledged the future is bright for the pending pro-prospect saying: “I think he will be a high draft pick at the NHL Draft this year which will be huge for the organization and Martin.”
“He has a great release,” said Frontenacs goalie Christian Propp.”You can tell that he is a goal scorer and someone you would have to watch out for.”
Wisdom commented, “He is a really skilled hockey player. He can always get a real hard shot off and doesn’t matter where the puck is, he’ll get it off.”
He’s been crucial for our line this year so far,” said the fellow ranked NHL prospect about his new line mate. “Its been a big help for me and our team. Chromer helps slow the game down a lot and along with Shane, we have had some success. But, we all just want to win games and have success as a team.”
Caputi on Chromiak
Associate coach Luca Caputi is glad to have a player with the pedigree of Chromiak helping build out the foundation for his young squad. “He’s an elite person. And that’s what you want in a team that you think your going to build around.”
“He’s a character person, he just does it right every day and his sole focus is on getting better everyday. So when you start with that foundation, you add skill and hockey sense, he’s got a great shot, he can skate.”
He added: “When you combine that with the type of person he is that fits your mould and where you want to go as a team, we’re real excited to have him here. Hopefully for two more years depending on how he progresses. While there is always potential of losing him to pro-hockey with his talent we hope we can build something special around our young talent here as well.”
Caputi also knows what it’s like to play overseas: “I thought that he’s done an excellent job coming over from Europe. It’s not easy to do, I played over there, it’s wider ice, there’s a lot of trap mentality there. It’s real defensive minded and he did an excellent job of coming in and providing offense and feeling it out. He’s just going to get better.”
The former 50-goal OHL scorer, now turned coach in the OHL, thinks highly of the skillset Chromiak brings saying, “I think he has potential to be a real solid contributor in the league, a top-5 scorer, that’s his feeling.”
Asked if Chromiak would benefit playing pro before the OHL, “Yeah absolutely, he was playing against men that are bigger an stronger and probably more mature than he is. He was just a 17-year-old kid, but I thought coming over here you could see that pro-mentality. You could see it in the way he practiced, he does it right. Those are the people you want leading the charge especially your top-six up front.”
“He puts his head down and doesn’t say much but he works everyday and he’s an excellent example. As young as he is, he’s going to be someone that people lean on and look up to so we’re excited about his leadership qualities in that aspect.”
Frontenacs fans will be eagerly awaiting news of the NHL draft this year and seeing where one of their stars gets selected.