And thus ends #CernakWatch2015. The Kings’ second round draft pick this past June will join the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, where he’ll be teamed with fellow Kings prospect Jake Marchment. The Otters will be looking to post their third consecutive 100-point season (in a 68-game season, impressively), though that will be a significant challenge as – how do I put this – Connor McDavid isn’t going to be walking through those clubhouse doors. Erie (PA) is 2-0-0-0 through the opening weekend of the OHL season and is one of the eight American teams in the 60-team major junior Canadian Hockey League (along with Flint and Saginaw of the OHL and Everett, Portland, Seattle, Spokane and Tri-City of the WHL).
Since he was drafted by the Kings, I had, over time, heard differing opinions on where the 6-foot-3, 203-pound 18-year-old was likely to play this season. That’s understandable, given what Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti told me after the second day of the draft: “Very rarely do you have complete control over a European’s development path, and we have complete flexibility in terms of his development path. So, there are four or five different options we can deploy with him next year, all the way from staying in Europe, to going to the American league or going to Juniors – if we sign him.” The Kings did sign him in July, and because he was drafted out of Europe, the AHL’s age restrictions didn’t apply. One line of thought was that because Cernak had already played two years in the Slovakian Extraliga – and won a pair of titles with HC Kosice – he could potentially bypass junior hockey and either jump to the AHL or return to Europe, but in the end the CHL’s model and the benefits provided from the acclimation to North America served as more than an adequate conduit for Cernak’s development.
Andrew Crescenzi, whom the Kings acquired in the Brandon Kozun trade two seasons ago and won a Calder Cup with AHL-Manchester last season, cleared waivers and was also assigned to AHL-Ontario. In 54 games with the Monarchs last season, the defensively responsible Crescenzi totaled seven goals and 15 points. Ontario’s training camp is scheduled to begin on Monday.
The Kings are roughly 10 minutes from taking the ice at Pepsi Center for warm-ups, and LA Kings Insider will host a live game blog shortly. As of now, Los Angeles is scheduled to practice at Toyota Sports Center at 12:00 noon on Monday, September 28. Should that change, I’ll make note on Twitter and a post-game quotes post.