Who is Peter Cehlarik?
Peter Cehlarik is a left winger from Slovakia who has been playing his junior/professional hockey in Sweden the past couple years. Cehlarik started out his junior career with MsHK Zilina in the Slovakian U18 league, moving on to the junior league for the Swedish Elite League in 2011-12. He started out with Lulea's U18 team in 2011, but moved up to the club's top U20 team, and by the end of this year, the men's professional team in Elitserien (now, as of this month, known as the Swedish Hockey League in order to better confuse everyone). Cehlarik's impressive rise through the league ranks was capped off by his 8-game run in the top league, netting 6 points (3G, 3A), as well as playing in 6 playoff games for Lulea. He has also played for Team Slovakia in World Junior competition, including putting up 7 points in 6 games at this year's U18 Championship.
Cehlarik's rapid rise through the SEL this past year turned a lot of folks' heads and he has been climbing up draft boards quickly, especially after his stint in the top league. The fact that he is on the young side of this draft with an August 2, 1995 birthday adds to the impressiveness of his rise. Any 17 year old who is able to break into Sweden's top league and make an impact will get noticed by scouts and experts in a hurry. He went from being unranked by the CSS at mid-term to being the number 28 European skater in their last pre-draft rankings. Corey Pronman puts him up at number 50 overall in his pre-draft rankings.
Cehlarik has a pretty good-sized frame at 6'-2" and 198lbs, and being only 17, there's a chance he could get a bit bigger than that. Scouts like his size and feel that he has pretty good hands and puck-handling skills. Experts also feel that he is a smart player with good decision-making abilities. His rapid improvement means that scouts are still trying to catch up on their analysis of him a bit, as he is certainly at a very different level on draft boards than he was just six months ago. Some concerns in his game include his overall physicality and skating abilities.
Peter Cehlarik Player Statistics
What Experts are Saying About Cehlarik
Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News had a bit to say about Cehlarik in this article:
Cehlarik, a Slovakian winger playing in Sweden, has been garnering a lot of buzz lately thanks to an end-of-year run with Lulea’s top team, where he scored three goals and six points in eight Elite League games. He’s a big kid with nice hockey sense and good hands, though scouts would like to see him play more physical. At 6-foot-2, 192 pounds, he certainly has the mass.
A common refrain on Cehlarik seems to be that he is a smart hockey player with a good feel for the game. Being a smart player can help make up for some shortcomings on the ice and Cehlarik seems to have plenty of other tools at his disposal. The physicality concerns don't bother me much, as he is younger and is still likely growing into his body a bit.
Dan Stewart included him as someone whose stock is rising in this "Movers and Shakers" piece at Future Considerations:
His impressive size, skill and smarts have helped him maintain his scoring pace into the SEL’s playoffs and has Future Considerations among others pushing his name into second round contention and rising.
So Chelarik, once considered more of a late-round pick, has leapt up into the possibly the second round for many experts, making him either someone the Devils would be "reaching for" a little bit in the second or hoping he finds his way down to the fourth round.
Corey Pronman is among those that now have him slotted in the second round, and has this to say over at Hockey Prospectus:
He is average sized, but still strong for a U18 player. He shows quality physical value in terms of his ability to protect the puck and win battles. Cehlarik is a skilled individual as well, and he can make above-average plays with the puck. He shows good vision as a playmaker, making quick decisions and processing the game well, especially considering his age and the SEL-level competition. His major issue is his skating, which is notably below average. He has a sluggish first few steps, and his top gear is not threatening.
Pronman likes his skills on the puck and his hockey IQ as well, and it seems like many of the aspects of his game are on the plus side, outside of the skating. Other scouts/experts don't seem to be quite as down on his skating as Pronman, but it is definitely a concern. He seems to have a lot of skill to make up for it if he can't find a higher gear for his feet, though.
With his late callup to Elitserien, highlights of Cehlarik are pretty limited, but there is this pretty nice highlight package of his time with Lulea after making the jump:
An Opinion of Sorts
It seems to me that without some kind of draft-day trade that lands them a pick in the late second or possibly third round, there isn't the biggest chance that Cehlarik ends up with the Devils. That said, I do think he's a good prospect and if the Devils did decide to reach for him at 39 it wouldn't be the end of the world. He is a big, smart, skilled player who was already playing with pros at the age of 17. No, his speed isn't top end, but based on the praise of his instincts and skill on the ice, Cehlarik looks to be someone who could develop into quite a playmaker at the next level. If he somehow managed to fall to the Devils in the fourth round, it would be a great coup for them if they grabbed him there. Again that seems unlikely, but you never know.
So what do you think of Cehlarik? Do you think the way he has risen of late could mean that he is still underrated or perhaps now overrated? Do you think there's a chance he ends up on the Devils on June 30th? Use words to form sentences to express your thoughts below. Thanks for reading.