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Sleepless in Slovakia: Martin Chromiak is thrilled to be drafted by LA

The two days of the NHL Entry Draft were long for everybody involved, but for Martin Chromiak, they were late as well. In Slovakia, the Frontenacs forward watched NHL brass read out names for nearly six hours before the words “The LA Kings have selected Martin Chromiak” came through the TV’s speakers.

Although Chromiak did not expect to be drafted in the first round,  he stayed up that night, keeping tabs on his friends who could be picked, and on the chance, a team selected him. Staying awake for the entire first round made for a short sleep. “The draft started around 1:00 am here and did not end until 3:00 am. I was very tired.”

Being in Slovakia, he has not been off the ice for a substantial time like his Canadian teammates, with the country not closing rinks as strictly for COVID-19. Even though he has been skating nearly every day, he was on the ice before the second day of selections began. “It was like any other day,” he said, although he admittedly grew nervous throughout the day.

As day turned to dusk, things began to change around the Chromiak household. The Chromiak family slipped into sharp attire, with the man of the hour in a suit, while his brother, a fellow hockey player, dressed in blue jeans. For a draft at home during a global pandemic, there was no strict dress code. “My mom ordered sushi,” said Chromiak, who was tense in the evening, “I just wanted to be picked as fast as possible.”

While a draft from a living room is odd, and the event is stressful enough, the NHL also had most prospects live on camera to capture their immediate reactions to being selected. “The camera was weird,” he said, “We watched the first day for almost four hours and the second day was another four again; it was strange seeing us on the TV.”

Being filmed for hours in his living room, Chromiak grew nervous as the picks went by. “When I heard so many names, I tried to stay positive,” but having been through challenging situations before, he knew how to handle something like this.

At roughly 10:30 pm, after hours of names being called, LA selected Chromiak with the 128th pick. The camera put them centre stage on the NHL Network, as his family cheered on the newest Kings prospect. “It was nice to share the moment with them,” Chromiak said, despite being very tired, running on little sleep by that point.

For North American based players, a day’s worth of Zoom calls and other interviews awaited them following their selection, but for Chromiak, it was time to go to bed. “ I spoke with family, friends and my agent, but it was pretty late after that.”

Now in LA’s. prospect pipeline, Chromiak is thrilled to be closer to one of his favourite cities. “I have been there once, and I loved it,” he said over the phone, “I hope I can get over there for a training camp or some sort of camp soon; it is one of my favourite cities.”

Being drafted to the NHL is an achievement for any player, and Chromiak credits a lot of his development to the Frontenacs and his switch to North America. “It was good to play here for a year to get used to it, and the team gave me some great opportunities with good players,” he said, excited to get back to work in the Limestone City this season.

A major goal this year for Chromiak, aside from success in Kingston, is to make Slovakia’s World Junior Championship roster. He would face the Canadian team and many of his fellow CHL players in the tournament’s preliminary stages if everything works out. After being cut from the team last year, he is committed to earning a spot this time around, “I think we have a good team this year, and I am going to work hard to be a part of it.”

The 48 hours of the NHL Draft were draining on everyone, especially those outside of the ideal time zone, but that does not matter anymore, he is thrilled to be picked. For now, Chromiak continues to skate with his hometown team as he continues to prepare for his sophomore OHL campaign, his first as a drafted NHL prospect.

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