When Washington Capitals prospect Alex Alexeyev is on the ice, you can’t miss him.
The 6-foot-4, 196-pound blueliner is a presence, but it’s not just his size that makes him prominent. It’s his defensive game, one where he skates fluidly and rarely is caught making a mistake defensively.
“I just play simple,” Alexeyev said. “Defensemen should play simple. When I have a chance to create something offensively, I’m going to do it.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for the 18-year-old blueliner. Just a little over a week ago, he was taken 31st overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Then it was off to Arlington, Virginia, where he wrapped up development camp Saturday.
“It’s amazing feeling especially,” Alexeyev said. “It’s amazing feeling and this is really good organization. They just won Stanley Cup, so it’s a pleasure to be here.”
Like many of Washington’s prospects and draft picks over the years, the Russian defenseman is a product of the WHL, He’s been with the Red Deer Rebels over the last two seasons and had a break out year last year, putting up seven goals and 37 points in 45 games.
He’s since been working to adjust to North American hockey, a transition that has taken time but has helped him develop on and off the ice.
“The WHL has really helped me as a player and person,” Alexeyev said. “I learned language and I really appreciate the Red Deer Rebels picked me in the draft.”
As he continues to grow his game, he has learned to play a stronger 200-foot game. He’s sound defensively and isn’t afraid to get physical, while he can also start the breakout and quarterback the power play as a puck-moving defenseman.
“Two-way defenseman,” Alexeyev said of his play. “I have good vision, good shot, good skill.”
In the offseason, he plans to go back home to Russia and then, later on in the summer, he will head to Los Angeles to continue his training and development, hoping to add some muscle that should benefit his physicality, size and injury tolerance heading into his first training camp.
“I still have to get better in lots of areas and mostly, I don’t think I’m weak, but I think I need to be better in the physical part, which I’m going to do this summer,” Alexeyev said. “So, I’m going to be better.
Alexeyev Joins the Capitals
Since joining the Capitals’ organization, Alexeyev has been all smiles. Hailing from St. Petersburg, he watched players like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov growing up, as well as Dmitry Orlov.
Coming into development camp, he’s been excited to get the opportunity to meet and work with fellow prospects, and is looking forward to getting to work with some of the players that currently grace the Capitals roster.
“First of all I just want to get to know each other with the team and work on and learn some stuff from the [NHL and AHL],” Alexeyev said.
Some of Alexeyev’s hockey idols (and players he models his game after) include Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson, as well as Shea Theodore, who he watched this year in his campaign with the Golden Knights. He also looks up to fellow countryman Dmitry Orlov, who he hopes to get advice from and bond with come training camp, where he could potentially compete for a roster spot. However, that’s far from his mind now.
“I don’t really like to talk about future, but I can tell you what, it’s going to be fun week,” Alexeyev said. “I think I should still work harder and every day get better and better, so we’ll see in September.”
Alexeyev’s Time in D.C.
Prior to attending camp, Alexeyev had never visited D.C. and has since taken the time to explore and get to know the city.
“It’s my first time. Amazing place,” Alexeyev said. “We went in a truck and drive on a bus there, so I saw lots of nice places. Really nice city.”
In addition to learning more about the city, Alexeyev said he takes the time off the ice to rest and unwind a bit with “good food,” followed by “[getting] back to bed and sleep.”
He’s also taken the time to check out some of the local restaurants around Arlington and D.C., searching out places that serve sushi, his favorite food. But ultimately, the best part of his experience has been working on his game and getting a taste of the NHL at development camp.
“The first couple days feel uncomfortable because I got all new equipment,” Alexeyev said. “After this, I feel so much easier on the ice and I feel better because of the stuff here, the trainers help me a lot, so it’s really good. I feel amazing right now.”
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.