Produced by the WHL in partnership with BC Tree Fruits, “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” is a multi-part series highlighting the next generation of WHL stars set to embark on a journey pursuing NHL dreams. “Growing the Game’s Best Talent” can be seen monthly at WHL.ca, featuring a key member of the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft Class. Together, the WHL and BC Tree Fruits are “Growing the Game’s Best Talent.”
Calm, cool and collected, defenceman Alexander Alexeyev is ready to take the National Hockey League by storm.
Ranked 22nd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, there’s a strong possibility that Alexeyev could be taken in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft this coming Friday. If not, he certainly won’t have to wait long on Saturday.
But regardless of whichever team selects the product of St. Petersburg, Russia, they’ll have a player motivated to make it to the NHL level sooner rather than later with the skills to back it up.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound 18-year-old has the size to adequately protect the puck and hasn’t shied away from being a part of the Rebels’ offensive rushes up ice. Part of his growth in on-ice confidence this year allowed him to help the Rebels more offensively, contributing 37 points (7G-30A), with 40.54 per cent of those points coming on the power play.
Looking at Alexeyev’s production in 2018 compared to 2017, it’s easy to see that he was able to elevate his game at the right time as the Rebels became a formidable opponent down the stretch.
“It was amazing,” Alexeyev said of his team’s push to earn them a spot in the 2018 WHL Playoffs. “Because it was my first playoffs and first [playoff] game I was a little nervous.
“I actually enjoyed this because the whole energy the team’s bringing and I play really good I think.”
Once the calendars flipped over to January 1, 2018, Alexeyev recorded 16 points (3G-13A) in 17 games, including an eight-game point streak. If not for an unfortunately-timed upper-body injury at the end of February, he may have been able to push the Rebels further up the standings. But the good news for Rebels fans and Alexeyev is that he’s determined to conquer any and all unchecked challenges.
“Next season after draft when I start playing for Rebels, I be leader and act like I’m deserved to play NHL,” said Alexeyev, who credited his coaches for trusting him with more ice time this past season.
Alexeyev got a brief taste of the big league spotlight earlier this month at the 2018 NHL Scouting Combine, where he had a chance to gain valuable feedback from NHL executive staff and perform to his physical best.
“They told me I’m really good player and I have good skill, pretty good shot and [a] really good hockey sense,” the import blueliner said. “I’m pretty sure they really liked me.
“As a person, I think they said that I’m really good guy. They enjoyed talking to me.”
Urged to work on the speed and physical aspects of his game, Alexeyev has an idea of what NHL teams want to see from him going forward, though only one stands to reap the benefits.
“[The] combine was actually really good because there’s really atmosphere and there was really nice people,” added Alexeyev. “They let us feel like it’s already high level, pro level, so it’s something cool.”
Focused on being the best he can, Alexeyev is determined to make one team feel like a winner upon selecting his name this coming weekend, ready to prove it on the ice with his raw talents.