Coming into his draft-eligible season with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, forward Alex Galchenyuk appeared poised to be a top-five draft pick alongside good friend, teammate and perceived top selection Nail Yakupov.
But a torn ACL suffered during the preseason in September sent Galchenyuk’s draft stock into question, as the now 18-year-old missed all but the final two games of Sarnia’s regular season.
Even still, Galchenyuk is the fourth ranked North American skater according to the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Service.
“[The injury] was cause for concern, but I don’t think it has done too much to alter his draft status at all,” said Hurricanes Director of Amateur Scouting Tony MacDonald.
Despite not recording a point and going minus-4 in his two regular season games, Galchenyuk rebounded in the playoffs with 4 points (2g, 2a) as Sarnia bowed out in six games. The fact that Galchenyuk – who was left off the midterm draft rankings – was able to return from his injury and factor in on the scoresheet in the playoffs might have salvaged what could have been a falling draft stock. It also speaks to his work ethic and commitment that he was able to return to game-action in the same season.
“He was just starting to hit his stride in the playoffs when they were eliminated,” MacDonald said.
|HOMETOWN: MILWAUKEE, WI |
|HEIGHT: 6-1 |
|WEIGHT: 185 |
|BIRTHDAY: FEB. 12, 1994 (AGE 18) |
Because of his season-long injury, scouts have to largely rely on what they saw in his previous season with Sarnia, which was very productive. As a 16- and 17-year-old in the 2010-11 season, Galchenyuk ranked second among OHL rookies and third among all CHL rookies in scoring with 83 points (31g, 52a) in 68 games.
He preceded his first season in Sarnia by posting 87 points (44g, 43a) in just 38 games with the Chicago Young Americans midget team. The next highest scorer in that league had 33 fewer points than Galchenyuk.
“We watched him closely his underage year in Sarnia,” MacDonald said. “He is a pretty explosive player who put up some big numbers as an underage kid.”
With the state of his fitness and durability virtually unknown due to the injury, the combine – especially the physical testing – became that much more vital. It was a final chance for team doctors to access his health after the six-month rehab process.
While Galchenyuk’s draft rank might have been in flux, the assessment of his talents is not. The center is seen as a skilled playmaker with tremendous vision and the ability to find the back of the net with a laser shot. Some scouts have compared him to Marian Hossa.
Galchenyuk’s style of play is somewhat representative of his personal background. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Galchenyuk followed his Belarusian hockey-playing father around the globe during his career. This took him to Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Russia before settling back in the United States as a teenager. Trilingual (he speaks English, Russian and Italian) and a dual citizen of the United States and Russia, Galchenyuk dresses for the U.S. in international play.
Similar to Filip Forsberg (profiled here), Galchenyuk is such an elite forward that he might not be available at eighth. Should he slip due to concerns over his injury, one team in the top 10 will likely look past it, in favor of his skill set that should enable him to become a future all-star center in the NHL.