2022-23 Team: Södertälje SK (Allsvenskan)
Date of Birth: Oct. 8, 2004
Place of Birth: Wolfsburg, Germany (Slovakian nationality)
Height: 5-foot-10, Weight: 179 pounds
Position: Left Wing/Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: First-Year Eligible
- NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters): 21st
- Elite Prospects: 61st
- Craig Button (TSN): 59th
- FC Hockey: 62nd
- Bob McKenzie (TSN): 63rd
- Smaht Scouting: 42nd
- Logan Horn (THW): 38th
- Dobber Prospects: 42nd
- Peter Baracchini (THW): 40th
Alex Ciernik isn’t the biggest player on the ice. At 5-foot-10, he’s often physically overshadowed by his competition and his teammates; at the 2023 World Junior Championship, there was only one player shorter than him on the Slovak roster. But there isn’t a chance you will miss him. No matter where he plays, he has managed to stick out by being one of the fastest and most skilled players on the ice at all times. Some have even said he could be the best skater in the 2023 Draft class, along with Oliver Moore and Tom Willander. He can dip and weave between defenders, use quick starts to change direction on a dime and slide effortlessly around the ice to get into a position to pick up a rebound.
It may seem strange that Ciernik, who was born in Germany and plays in Sweden, has Slovak nationality. But that’s thanks to his father, Ivan Ciernik, who played seven seasons in the NHL and American Hockey League (AHL) before leaving to join the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) in 2004. He later relocated to Sweden, where Alex spent most of his childhood and thus was funnelled into Sweden’s youth hockey programs. Ivan also went on to coach his son with Flemingsbergs IK in 2019-20. “Because my father played for several clubs,” Ciernik told a Slovak news site, “I got the opportunity to train and subsequently work among older guys.”
That little boost has placed Ciernik among a growing cohort of highly-skilled Slovak prospects who are dominating throughout Europe. At 14 years old, he joined Sweden’s Division 1 U16 league and finished with 20 points in 20 games, putting him third in team scoring. The following season, he led the team with 30 goals and 56 points. He moved up to the Division 1 U18 team that same season, and at 15 years old, he scored 33 goals and 55 points in 33 games. In 2021-22, he moved up again, joining the J20 circuit with Södertälje’s U20 team, where he put up 20 goals and 47 points as a 17-year-old. No other 2023 Draft-eligible player topped his output in the J20 league that season.
Related: The Hockey Writers’ 2023 NHL Draft Guide
But where Ciernik has caught the most attention is on the international circuit. At the 2021-22 U18 World Juniors, he led the Slovaks to a Division 1A title and promotion to the top division with 12 points in five games. At the Hlinka Gretzky tournament that same season, he once again showed he was one of the best prospects coming out of Slovakia; surrounded by Dalibor Dvorsky, Juraj Slafkovsky, Filip Mesar, and Simon Nemec, Ciernik stood out with seven points in five games, helping his nation earn a silver medal. At the 2023 U20 World Juniors, where he was once again one of the youngest players on the team, he tied for third on the team with two goals.
This season, Ciernik has continued to show off his incredible offensive instincts. In 18 games with Södertälje SK J20, he put up 21 points, finishing fifth on the team in scoring despite playing less than half the games of his teammates. That level of production earned him a call-up to the Allsvenskan league, where he scored 12 points in 25 games between Södertälje SK and Västerviks IK. Even though his numbers dipped, mainly because he missed a significant part of the season, he has demonstrated a high level of intelligence with the puck on his stick, seeing plays around him that few can, putting him in a great position heading into the 2023 NHL Draft.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Alex Ciernik – NHL Draft Projection
The 2023 NHL Draft class is filled with undersized forwards who thrive on their speed. Ciernik is no different, and when he returned to the ice after missing nearly three months, he continued to demonstrate his incredible offensive gifts in Sweden’s Allsvenskan. The big problem has been the defensive side of his game, which at times is non-existent. With the puck, he’s brilliant and creative, but away from it, he can easily fade into the background, which has hurt his draft ranking. Still, some think he could sneak into the first round, with The Hockey Writers’ Logan Horn among them.
“If you are looking for someone who is constantly looking to key up give-and-go opportunities, Čiernik is someone to keep an eye on. He loves to key up give-and-go opportunities while driving up the neutral zone. When Čiernik is skating up the ice, he scans and looks for teammates along the boards right at the blue line. He delivers a pass to them and they drive the puck into the offensive zone. Čiernik enters the zone as the F2 and looks to establish open ice for himself in a medium and/or high-danger spot. Then that allows the teammate who received the pass from Čiernik to deliver a pass back to Čiernik that could potentially generate a quality scoring chance.” – John Tessler, Smaht Scouting
Latest News & Highlights
“This season, one of his biggest areas of growth was gaining comfort playing at the level of HockeyAllsvenskan. Ciernik plays a smart game and shows maturity through his IQ. He has deceptive hands, which he uses paired with his skating ability. In transition, he often moves laterally, sometimes fully covering the width of the ice. He’s no longer the fastest player on the ice as he was in many junior leagues, but his feet do provide an advantage.” – Alexa Potack, Dobber Prospects
“Alex Ciernik is an excellent skater with the speed and agility to be successful in transition. He’s also very shifty through the neutral zone, losing defenders with head fakes and momentary hesitations. After dominating the top Swedish junior league last season, Ciernik played about half of his draft year in the HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s second-tier pro league, where he scored 12 points in 25 games, the fourth-most among all U19 players. He’s a gifted playmaker as well, setting up plays well on the rush, though he can be a little too focused on beating defenders with speed at times. Ciernik will be an important member of Team Slovakia at the 2023 U18 World Championship that is coming up, and a good showing could do wonders for his draft stock.” – Logan Horn, The Hockey Writers
- Puck control
- Strong, quick shot
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Play away from the puck
Being a smaller player, Ciernik is likely a few years away from making his North American debut. Although he’s not afraid to take a hit, he still needs to add strength to withstand the grind of the NHL and its minor leagues. He also needs to clean up his play away from the puck, and playing in Sweden’s professional circuit will help iron those things out. Once he arrives, however, there’s a great chance that he ends up as a dynamic middle-six playmaker, similar to Tomas Tatar or a less skilled William Eklund.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8/10, Defense – 6/10
- Rebound Contenders in FCHOCKEY’S Midterm Ranking For the 2023 NHL Draft
- DraftPro – An Introduction to the 2023 NHL Draft Class – Western Europe
- Hurricanes select Alex Ciernik in the 2022 CHL Import Draft