This is the third article in our Oilers Draft Watch 2011 series.
That's Slovakian defenseman Peter Ceresnak scoring a power play goal against Switzerland in the 2011 U18 Vlado Dzurilla Tournament. NHL Central Scouting ranks Ceresnak 35th among Europeans, highest of all Slovakian skaters.
#10 / Defense / HK Orange 20
January 26, 1993
|2010 - HK Orange
Ceresnak spent his 2010-2011 season with HK Orange 20 in the Slovak Extraliga, the same team Martin Marincin played for prior to moving to Prince George after being drafted in 2010. Scott has written about HK Orange previously:
But here's the thing. The U20 team is just terrible. I'm not talking terrible like the 2009-10 Edmonton Oilers were terrible, I'm talking total depravity here, objects of God's wrath, that kind of thing. In thirty-six games, the U20 team won five times. Four in regulation. Their goal differential was -108. That's awful in any league, but in thirty-six games that's really, really awful. I'm making a conscious choice to not use profanity here because if I started, well it would be hard to stop. An average game saw these guys lose 5-2. If they lost 4-3, they won. If they actually won, the other team's coach got fired. I'm no hockey expert but it seems to me that that might not be the best way to develop your good young players. The next time you watch Canada destroy a Slovakian team 8-2 and most of the Slovaks look like it's business as usual, just remember that for most of them, it is.
They were worse this year. In 35 games last year, HK Orange had a -106 goal differential, or -3.09 goals per game. In 30 games this year, HK Orange's goal differential was -98, or -3.27 goals per game. Goals for were down from 2 to 1.4 per game. Like Scott said, it's not the best developmental environment for a hockey player.
Ceresnak was the team's best and most physical defenseman and was second on the team in defensive scoring behind Peter Trska. What little offense he posted compares to the little offense that Marincin posted two seasons ago.
Given that HK Orange's offensive output was down year-over-year, Ceresnak had a slightly larger contribution percentage, though the small amount of points both men put up make it difficult to draw any sort of conclusions about either player.
But offense isn't really Ceresnak's game. According to Central Scouting, Ceresnak is one of Slovakia's most physical players and at 6'3" 209 lbs, he brings NHL size with that physical play. He began the season as "one to watch" on most draftnik's lists but slipped throughout the year, mostly due to a poor showing at the World Junior Championships where, although he was on the team, his ice time was limited. I asked draft guru Kirk Luedeke to summarize Ceresnak's game.
"Big guy, good stick and uses his size effectively. Doesn't have a lot of foot speed, but is fairly agile and as long as he's not in the open ice, can do a pretty good job against opposing forwards. Physical defender who uses his size effectively along the wall and in front of his net. Plays a highly conservative style, but has shown an ability to make the quick breakouts and outlets. Not a lot of upside here, but could surprise as a long-term project guy later on. He started out the season with more promise as a top-three rounder, but has fallen off."
Having said all of that, if selecting a big defenseman from HK Orange worked last year, why not go back to the well? Ceresnak will never be a high-output offensive guy, but he's physical, he can make an outlet pass, he understands his own end and he moves well. He sounds like Jan Hejda in the making. If he's amenable to moving to the CHL next year to continue his development, Edmonton should use one of their late round picks to select the big Slovak.
You can find Kirk Luedeke's outstanding NHL Draft work at Bruins Draft Watch 2011. Follow Kirk on Twitter @kluedeke29.