Erik Cernak

Tampa Bay Lightning
Scott Thomas

Fantasy Summary

Cernak is a mobile, physically mature, and intelligent stay-at-home defender who has the raw skills to develop a well-balanced two-way game.

Fantasy Upside 5.0
NHL Certainty 8.5
Country SVK
Position D
Roster Type NHL
Shoot/Glove Right
Date of Birth May 28, 1997
Height 6‘4”
Weight 203 lbs
Drafted 2015 Round 2; Overall: 43


November 2019 – Erik Cernak enters his second NHL season with higher expectations and responsibility, as he currently anchors the right side of Tampa’s second pair with veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh as his partner. Cernak has just one goal through Tampa Bay’s first 20 games in 2019-2020, however, the strength of Cernak’s game comes in his defensive ability and physicality, where the young Slovakian has not missed a beat. Cernak won’t likely ever develop into an offensive option, however, he projects optimistically as a steady defensive-minded top-four defenseman. Brandon Holmes

April 2019 – Cernak finished his 2019 season as a key contributor in Tampa Bay’s lineup after receiving his first call-up from Syracuse in November. Cernak carved out a steady role on Tampa’s bottom two pairs and found time on the penalty kill as well, where he put his defensive skill-set to work as Tampa Bay only allowed four powerplay goals against during his 104:09 of ice time on the penalty kill. In addition to a flourishing defensive game, Cernak showed an improvement to his offensive abilities in 2019 as he was able to move the puck with great efficiency from the backend, as he posted five goals and 16 points in 58 regular seasons in addition to his three points in the postseason. With Tampa Bay’s impending cap crunch coming, Cernak figures to be a reliable component of the Bolts’ defensive core moving forward and may even see a consistent role in Tampa’s top four as early as the 2019-2020 season. Brandon Holmes

November 2018 – Cernak has been recalled from the Syracuse Crunch and will make his NHL debut tonight in Buffalo. He has registered seven points in nine games this year in the AHL, ranking first on the Crunch for points by defensemen and second in the AHL for power play goals by defensemen. He has continued his progression in the minors and continues to grow into a solid two-way player. It perhaps comes as a surprise that he received the call before Cal Foote, however his steady play has warranted it. Look for him to get his feet wet on the third pair as he gains confidence. The likelihood of him seeing time on the man advantage at this point is low given the depth of Tampa’s defense. Jordan Deshane

April 2018 – In Cernak’s rookie season with the Syracuse Crunch, the well prepared blue liner became a steady and consistent force on both sides of the puck in the AHL ranks. His modest offensive production was reflective of his two-way style of play, and should be expected to improve as his development continues with the Crunch. Cernak’s NHL outlook remains a long-term path with Dominik Masin and Cal Foote both outranking the former Otter, however, his strength and consistency indicate that he has potential to eventually slot in as a bottom-pair defender at the NHL level. Brayden Olafson

September 2017 – After pairing up with fellow prospect Mikhail Sergachev for much of his Lightning pre-season audition, Cernak has been assigned to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. Cernak showed surprising flashes of offense while paired up with Sergachev, however in all likelihood that was a blip on the radar. The second-round-pick is showing good potential to eventually develop into a depth shut-down defender, but first will need to prove he is capable of doing so in the AHL. Syracuse doesn’t lack defensive depth, so his best chance of earning more ice time could be to find a niche, likely as a penalty-killer and prove himself as a specialist first. Brayden Olafson

May 2017 – Cernak’s reputation as a defensive specialist remained intact as the Erie Otters make a valiant effort in the Memorial Cup final, only to come up short in the final period. A fan favorite in Erie, Cernak will almost certainly report to the Crunch after training camp, as his defensive development is in need of greater challenges. It will be tough for the Slovak to ever make much of a fantasy impression, even in multi-category leagues, as his offense will likely be insignificant. His somewhat one-dimensional style of play may also impede his progress for some time in the Lightning system. Brayden Olafson

May 2017 – The hulking Slovak was an offensive threat for the Otters in the early happenings of the OHL playoffs, but in the deeper competition has trailed off. He remains a strong physical presence for Erie who have benefited from the space that Cernak is able to create for some of the Otters more skilled players.  Cernak, who took a rigid position earlier in the season regarding his professional status in the LA Kings organization has been a significant component to the Otters playoff success. His offensive upside will need to see a drastic improvement in order for him to become a relevant multi-category prospect. Brayden Olafson

February 2017 – After joining the Otters part way through the season, Cernak has slotted right back into his groove as a strong physical presence on the contending CHL leaders. He was moved in the Ben Bishop deal from the crowded King’s farm system to the crowded Lightning farm system where he’ll hope to earn a spot with Syracuse in the fall. Cernak is not considered an offensive weapon in terms of fantasy, and so long as the Lightning blue line remains at its current depth, he will struggle to leapfrog other prospects in the system for a few years.  Brayden Olafson

September 2016 – Cernak spent the 2015-16 season with the Erie Otters. He scored four goals and 11 assists in 41 games (0.37 points per game). His play picked up a bit in the playoffs, when he scored six points in 13 games (0.46 points per game). He also played for Slovakia in the World Junior Championship (U20), playing four games without scoring any points. The bigger story for Cernak this past season, had to do with his expectations. Cernak had been assigned by the Kings to report to the Otters (where he had been drafted), but he refused to report. Rather, he joined the Ontario Reign, where there was not a spot available for him, so he served as a healthy scratch. In late October Cernak finally reported to Erie. It will be interesting to see where he ends up playing this upcoming season, as both Ontario and L.A. will likely have crowded blue-lines again. Philip Kamhi

October 2015 – After some wrangling, the hulking Slovakian defenseman has finally agreed to join the Erie Otters. Sheng Peng

June 2015 – Kings take Cernak 43rd overall. Zero fantasy value, but should re-evaluate in one to two years to see if any offense develops. Dobber

June 2015 – When you watch Erik Cernak you see a huge defensive defenseman who battles hard in front of his goalie and in the corner capable of using his size to outplay guys physically. Already playing in a men’s league in Slovakia, Cernak is playing with older players and contributing playing a regular shift in the top four D of his team while also playing on both the penalty kill and powerplay. The big man’s most impressive trait is his ability to not take penalties in his battles as in his 50 games at the top level of Slovak hockey in the 2014-2015 season and playoffs Cernak only took 22 penalty minutes. Benjamin Gallant


 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2009-2010 Slovakia K&B Stars QC Int PW - - - - - |          
 2011-2012 HC Kosice U18 Slovakia U18 37 5 4 9 61 |          
 2012-2013 HC Slovan Bratislava U18 Slovakia U18 1 0 2 2 0 | Playoffs 1 0 2 2
  HC Slovan Bratislava U20 Slovakia U20 30 4 6 10 18 | Playoffs 12 0 1 1
  Team Slovakia U20 Slovakia2 8 2 0 2 18 |          
  Slovakia U17 WHC-17 5 0 0 0 8 |          
  Slovakia U17 (all) International-Jr 9 1 1 2 10 |          
  Slovakia U18 WJC-18 6 0 2 2 8 |          
  Slovakia U18 (all) International-Jr 8 0 3 3 8 |          
 2013-2014 HC Kosice U20 Slovakia U20 8 1 3 4 16 |          
  HC Kosice Slovakia 13 0 0 0 0 | Playoffs 7 0 0 0
  Team Slovakia U20 Slovakia 20 2 1 3 2 |          
  Slovakia U18 WJC-18 5 0 0 0 6 |          
  Slovakia U20 WJC-20 5 0 0 0 4 |          
  Slovakia U20 (all) International-Jr 7 0 1 1 4 |          
 2014-2015 HC Kosice Slovakia 43 5 8 13 16 | Playoffs 7 0 1 1
  HC Kosice Champions HL 6 0 1 1 4 |          
  Slovakia U20 WJC-20 6 0 2 2 4 |          
  Slovakia U20 (all) International-Jr 5 3 2 5 8 |          
  Slovakia (all) International 3 1 0 1 6 |          
 2015-2016 Erie Otters OHL 41 4 11 15 35 | Playoffs 13 0 6 6 10 
  Slovakia U20 WJC-20 4 0 0 0 2 |          
 2016-2017 Erie Otters OHL 50 3 18 21 53 | Playoffs 22 1 8 9 10 
  Erie Otters M-Cup 5 0 2 2 2 |          
  Slovakia U20 WJC-20 5 0 1 1 2 |          
 2017-2018 Syracuse Crunch AHL 71 5 13 18 70 | Playoffs 7 1 1 2
  Slovakia (all) International 2 0 0 0 2 |          
 2018-2019 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 58 5 11 16 58 | Playoffs 4 0 3 3
  Syracuse Crunch AHL 9 2 5 7 14 |          
  Slovakia WC 7 3 2 5 8 |          
  Slovakia (all) International 9 4 2 6 12 |          
 2019-2020 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 67 5 7 12 59 |