Martin Chromiak recently spoke with me about his experience at LA Kings’ training camp, the Kingston Frontenacs, and his goals this season.
With the No. 2 overall pick — their first since 2008 when they drafted a pretty good player by the name of Drew Doughty — the LA Kings had to choose between two future stars. The silver-and-black ultimately chose Quinton Byfield, while Tim Stutzle went to Ottawa. Nevertheless, the Draft went far beyond said debate for the Kings. In fact, they drafted eight more players — one of which has turned out to be far more valuable than his selection at 128th overall would suggest.
While he may have been flying under the radar, so to speak, when the Kings drafted him, Martin Chromiak has certainly stood out since then.
A member of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, Chromiak was forced to find playing time elsewhere during COVID-19, which canceled the league’s 2020-21 season. As a result, Chromiak returned to his native Slovakia, scoring 19 points in 32 games for Trencin Dukla. He even returned to North America, albeit briefly, to play in two games for the Ontario Reign. Overall, Chromiak was feeling good keeping busy, and that showed at this past fall’s Kings training camp — his first — when he exceeded even his own expectations.
“My first training camp, it was obviously a great experience for me,” Chromiak told me when I spoke to him earlier this week. “After my draft, we didn’t have a camp because of the coronavirus, so this was my first real camp and I was so happy to be there and it was a great experience. I mean, all of the coaches were really, really nice, so we were skating most of it with the development team, so I know the best from these coaches.”
While certainly exhilarating, that first training camp for players can be overwhelmed, even awkward, as they enter the unenviable situation of not knowing anyone. For Chromiak, though, he found someone to make him feel at home right away.
“[Among the] players, I was spending most time with Lukas Parik because he’s from the Czech Republic and we speak the same language,” recalled the 19-year-old. “So, we were spending the most time together and, I mean, it was good to be with someone familiar and speak in our own language.”
While this past training camp wasn’t his first time in the City of Angels, Chromiak admitted that it was his first experience to really see what Los Angeles had to offer. After all, the left winger’s previous trips to southern California were limited to his hotel room due to COVID-19. The wait, while it may have been frustrating for the youngster, was nonetheless worthwhile.
“This year I was there almost– I think it was more than a month, maybe five weeks, so yeah, I had a chance to go see cool places,” Chromiak said. “I really liked Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach, I was at the Dodgers game and the LA Galaxy against LA FC game. So, it was really cool. The whole five weeks, we had a lot of fun, so it was great.”
As for training camp itself, Chromiak was impressive. So impressive, in fact, that the Kings rewarded him with an entry-level contract. The Ilava, Slovakia, native, however, was sent back to the OHL. But, if Chromiak was disappointed not to make the big club’s roster, he has done an admirable job of concealing it.
Following his rookie campaign in the OHL, where he scored 33 points (11-22-33) in just 28 games, Chromiak was determined to pick up right where he left off. Of course, it had been a year-and-a-half since he played in the OHL. If there was any concern involving rust from too long of a layoff, though, the 5-foot-10, 192-pounder proved to both the Kingston Frontenacs and himself that there was no reason to worry, scoring 13 points (6-7-13) in only nine games thus far.
“The season in Kingston [has been] good so far,” noted the Kings prospect. “I wasn’t here for almost 18 months, so it was a great feeling to be back and meet all of my old teammates and also the new, young players. The season is going pretty good. Unfortunately, we lost the first two of the three in the first three games, [but] we kind of bounced [back] from that and we show that we can play a really good game, and we just we just learned from the losses. So, we have a good streak and we just have to keep working hard, and hopefully, we’ll win another game.”
After opening the season with a convincing 8-1 win against Ottawa on Oct. 8, the Frontenacs followed that up on a sour note with a 7-2 loss to the Mississauga Steelheads. The next day, the 67’s avenged their blowout loss with a 3-2 victory. Since then, though, the Fronts won four of their next six games. And, since both of their losses since then have come in overtime, Chromiak and the Fronts enter this weekend riding a six-game point streak.
Additionally, while Chromiak’s individual play has been noteworthy in itself, he is receiving a good amount of support from linemate Shane Wright, who is the front-runner to be next year’s first-overall draft choice in the NHL.
“We played together my first year [in 2019-20] here, so I think we have good chemistry together,” Chromiak noted. “It’s fun to play with him. He’s such a smart player, and he’s strong on the puck. I like to play with him, and hopefully, we will [continue to] help the team with scoring goals and winning the games.”
Entering this weekend’s action, the duo has produced seven goals together this season.
As for this season’s goal in Kingston, it’s simple.
“Our only goal is to win a championship,” a direct Chromiak stressed. “I think we have a good team for that, and we just have to keep working hard and being the best team in our division and best in the league. Obviously, our goal is the highest possible, so we want to win as many games as we can in the regular season and in the playoffs.”
He may not have had a ton of fanfare when he was drafted just over a year ago, but if there were a competition for most-impressive prospects since being selected, Martin Chromiak would be the first to cross the finish line.
It’s no secret that the LA Kings are rich in prospect depth and that is only amplified with Chromiak’s presence. So, be on the lookout for more of Martin Chromiak this season. He may not be donning the silver-and-black but if his play this season has been any indication so far, cracking the Kings roster will come much sooner than later. And when it does, be sure to strap yourselves in for an exhilarating ride.