Player of week Alexeyev already one of WHL’s top blueliners, but insists he can be even better
The ultimate teammate and a perfectionist to boot.
Those are two attractive attributes of Red Deer Rebels defenceman Alex Alexeyev, the current Western Hockey League player of the week.
“It is pretty great, awesome feelings,” said the Russian rearguard of his league honour, awarded this week after he scored three goals, added five assists and was a plus-10 in four games during the seven-day stretch ending Oct. 28.
“I couldn’t do this without my teammates because they really help me with this. I really appreciate it. It’s really a special moment for me because it is the first time in my WHL career I am named player of the week.”
Alexeyev, in the same vein as his Red Deer teammates Dawson Barteaux, Reese Johnson, Brandon Hagel and Jacob Herauf, returned from an NHL training camp in September and promptly elevated his game to a higher level.
The 18-year-old — he turns 19 in two weeks — was selected by the Washington Capitals in the first round, 31st overall, of June’s NHL entry draft and will be playing somewhere in the Caps organization next season.
That shouldn’t be a major leap for the six-foot-three, 200-pound rearguard, who on many nights this fall has looked like he could play pro right now.
But Alexeyev, who has notched seven goals and collected 20 points in 15 games to date this season, downplays his relative major junior dominance. He insists he still has plenty to learn with his current club.
“Yeah, I feel like I play really good, but I still need to improve myself in all areas . . . getting better every day and getting better in shape and hockey and everywhere,” he stated.
“It’s my third year and now of course I have to get better every year getting used to this league. I hope I will get better every day here and learn some new stuff.”
While attending Washington’s camp, Alexeyev took note of how the veteran players embraced the newcomers. He returned to Red Deer determined to follow suit with his younger teammates.
“I brought lots of stuff from Washington that I learned as a young guy and I’m going to try to bring to young guys on the Rebels all this stuff,” he said.
“I learned there how all guys are supposed to help the young guys and what they should say in dressing room and how they should work off the ice and on the ice, all kinds of this stuff.”
For a second successive year, Alexeyev will suit up with the Russian team in the WHL portion of the Canada/Russia Super Series. The games will be played Monday and Tuesday in Kamloops and Langley.
He made his first appearance in the competition last November and although he appeared to fare well, was his own worst critic.
“Last year was pretty tough but hopefully this second year is going to be a lot better because I get used to this league,” said Alexeyev. “I know all these players so hopefully it will be better this year.”
From one international event to another of an even higher calibre, Alexeyev should be a virtual shoo-in to make the Russian team for the 2019 World Junior Championship set for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria.
He came up short last year in his first attempt to earn a berth on the team and will use that disappointment as motivation this time around.
“Last year they cut me from the roster. This year I’m going to do my best and prove to them that they made the wrong move last year,” he said.
The Rebels return to action Saturday against the host Calgary Hitmen.
Rebels crack Top 10
The Rebels, with their 10-4-1-0 record, are No. 10 on this week’s Canadian Hockey League Top 10 rankings and are one of four WHL teams on the list. The Prince Raiders, who have racked up 15 wins and suffered just one loss, to Red Deer, are the top-ranked team. The Vancouver Giants (11-3-2-0) and the Victoria Royals (9-3-0-0) are ranked sixth and seventh. The Rebels achieved honourable mention last week.