Texier ready for whatever opportunities come his way
First-line minutes could be in the cards for standout young Frenchmanby Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com
It could all be a lot to Alexandre Texier.
Not only is the 20-year-old from France in his first NHL training camp with the Blue Jackets, he's been skating with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson. That would mean, at 20 years old and with just 10 NHL games under his belt, Texier could be in line to replace Artemi Panarin on the Blue Jackets' top line.
Did we mention he's 20 years old?
We kid, of course, but it could be a bit overwhelming to Texier, if he were the kind of guy to find such things overwhelming.
But he's clearly not. He wasn't overwhelmed a year ago when he joined the Blue Jackets for his first game in a contest the team needed to win to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He wasn't overwhelmed when he stepped into the playoffs and scored two goals in the win that eliminated one of the best regular-season teams in NHL history in the first round.
Video: TBL@CBJ, Gm4: Texier snipes early power-play goal
So he's not about to be overwhelmed by playing with two guys he calls "superstars" if he ends up on the Blue Jackets' top line this year.
"You have two good players, but my game is not going to change because I play with them," Texier said. "It's going to be the same. When you give them the puck, they're going to give it back for sure, so it's always nice to play with some pretty good players like that.
"I'm just going to play my game, not try to do too much. I don't think about that, just enjoy it and I'm really happy to play with them."
That attitude is one of the reasons Texier is in the mix to join that valuable spot to begin with. Head coach John Tortorella said nothing is set in stone when it comes to his season-opening lines, but Texier's combination of skill and confidence makes him an intriguing option.
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"It's still early, but like I said last year, just for him to get some time with us and playing some playoff games and just seeing how he handled himself, it was very exciting," Tortorella said. "That excitement has not been curbed at all as far as how he's handled himself in camp.
"We'll let it play out, but I think he is a guy that some young guys should look at. Although he's young, other young guys should be looking at him in how he handles himself because he's all business every day. I have learned to really respect that about him. He comes to work every day, so yeah, we're really excited about having him here and seeing how he's progressing."
Tortorella is far from the only Blue Jacket excited about what Texier brings to the table. When asked at the team's annual media day before the start of camp which young players he's been impressed by, Atkinson pointed immediately to Texier.
"I look at a guy like Texier, who played with us a little bit the last couple of regular-season games and into the playoffs," Atkinson said. "You saw how well he did at Traverse City (at the NHL Prospects Tournament), which should be no surprise. Just talking with him and seeing him on the ice, the fire in his eyes and in his belly as well, I'm looking forward to him stepping up and playing a big role."
All Texier has done since coming to North America is impress. After leading KalPa of the Finnish Liiga a year ago in scoring thanks to a dynamite second half, Texier joined AHL Cleveland at the end of last season and scored five goals in seven games.
ROAD TO THE NHL: From France to Finland, how Texier became a young CBJ standout
That earned him a promotion to Columbus at the end of last season, and after impressing in the playoff-clinching win vs. the New York Rangers, Texier scored his first career goal in the regular-season finale vs. Ottawa. He then added two goals in the Game 4 win vs. Tampa Bay, then returned to Columbus to take part in both the team's annual summer development camp for prospects as well as the Traverse City tournament.
Texier was one of the best players in Traverse City, scoring four goals, including two in overtime. In other words, he's checked every box to this point, though Texier insists he's not spending time thinking about what he's done in the past.
Video: Highlights from the third place game in Michigan
To that end, he spent the summer working out, adding seven pounds of muscle in an effort to be able to play a stronger game after Boston's physical play helped neutralize him in the second round of the playoffs.
Time will tell whether it's enough to earn him top-line billing to start the season, but Texier doesn't seem to worried about that, either. He'll just do his best and let things land where they may.
"My game is not going to change," he said. "I have the same mind-set on and off the ice. Everything will be fine if I play my game. All the time, I'll smile and enjoy the moment. You're going to have some tough times, but that's part of professional hockey. I'm ready for that, and I can't wait to play some more games."