There were many questions surrounding the projected fourth-ranked North American skater, Alex Galchenyuk. The 18-year-old currently plays for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL and although he has spent a lot of time in Moscow, Russia, he considers himself to be American as he was born in Wisconsin.
Galchenyuk was drafted first overall at the 2010 OHL Priority Selection Draft by the Sarnia Sting. It was his impressive final season of minor hockey with the U16 Chicago Young Americans when he recorded 44 goals and 43 assists that put him at the top of the list. In his first season with the Sting, he put up 31 goals and 52 assists in 68 games. His teammate Nail Yakupov is ranked to go number one overall at this year's 2012 NHL Draft. The two go hand in hand when it comes to putting points up for the Sting.
Galchenyuk hit a stretch of bad luck the following pre-season when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee forcing him to get surgery to repair the knee immediately, benching him for all but the final two games of the season and four playoff games.
"It was really difficult but it's life," he told media on Friday's at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto. "Last year I played 68 games- I didn't miss a single game and didn't miss a single practice. This year was a good lesson a good experience for me and I take it really seriously and I also take it positively. I was positive that I could come back and I believed in myself.
"I felt pretty bad sometimes because you see on the TV all the rankings and you can't do anything but sit on the couch with your crutches. It was really tough sometimes but at the end of the day it's not about the rankings, it's about playing in the NHL."
The combine is where the athletes go through a number of fitness and strength tests to see where they are at physically as well as sit through a number of NHL interviews where they are tested mentally. Galchenyuk did a great job of showcasing how well he has healed and bounced back from his injury as he topped the charts in the anaerobic peak power output test. This test measures how explosive of a skater he is. He finished in first place with 15.6 watts/kg.
The hardest part of the testing?
"The bikes," he said. "The players that have been here before say the bikes are the hardest and that is absolutely true- they are by far the hardest."
Galchenyuk cracked a smile when the simple question of, 'are you happy it's over? came out on Friday.
"Yes, of course! Now all the fun starts, I'm really looking forward to the draft. It's been great to see the NHL logo all over the place here. Since I was a little kid I wanted to play in the NHL, it was my dream. To be involved with the teams and the media and seeing the teams walking around was cool. As a kid you watch them on TV and now we get to talk to them, it was really exciting."
Like many young players, Galchenyuk has his own twitter account these days. He is quite active using it and was asked by media how much fun he has with it.
"I think a lot of people have been following along leading up to the combine," he said. "You want to have as many followers as you can, and it's been fun for me as a young guy to see what other people say. It's nice for people to share their experiences and I share my experiences. I think twitter is really cool."