Just because Sarnia Sting center Alexander Galchenyuk doesn't have a number beside his name on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings for North American skaters, it doesn't mean he won't be a top-five selection at the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh on June 22.
Galchenyuk had season-ending surgery Oct. 27 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and hasn't played a single minute all season in the Ontario Hockey League. He suffered the injury in a preseason game against the Windsor Spitfires on Sept. 16.
"I'm just trying to support our guys from the sidelines, although I can't describe how hard it is to watch," Galchenyuk wrote in a recent blog for NHL.com. "I would much rather be out there with them, but at least I get to spend more time at the rink now. I guess sometimes life throws out these challenges for you and you start appreciating things a lot more after you don't have them for a while. Right now I'm making the most of my situation and I'm hungrier than ever to get back out on the ice. I know that when I do go back that I will appreciate my time on the ice and being with my teammates even more."
2012 NHL DRAFT
D-men dominate top 10 in midterm ranks
Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer
Teams needing to build their blue line in the upcoming NHL Draft will be in luck, as the midterm rankings from Central Scouting indicate plenty of the top prospects are defensemen. READ MORE ›
Playing alongside Nail Yakupov in Sarnia last season, Galchenyuk had 31 goals and 83 points in 68 games. It was enough to make believers out of any scout who had the opportunity to watch him.
"One element for Galchenyuk is the fact he played last year, and going into this season he was already recognized as one of the top prospects," Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr, told NHL.com. "I think most of the teams are pretty comfortable in knowing the type of player they'll be getting. Obviously you'd like to see him play during his draft year, but the scouts and general managers are going to be more concerned with how the surgery went, what type of surgery it was and how the recovery process is going along."
There's little doubt Galchenyuk will be in high demand at the NHL Scouting Combine in May.
"Where he goes in the draft is going to depend how well he recovers from (his injury)," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, who specializes in OHL players, told NHL.com. "It's going to make the Combine that much more important when the doctors look at him. My guess is he'll bring the MRI results to the Combine in order to have doctors make their evaluations.
"As long as it's not career-ending, I really can't see it affecting him that much. He's too good a player."
Galchenyuk and Yakupov were the top two prospects on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary ranking of the top 25 skaters from the Ontario Hockey League in November.
"Alex is like a conductor; he's a guy who can control the game and makes really good decisions," said Igor Larionov
, the agent for both Galchenyuk and Yakupov. "But (Galchenyuk and Yakupov) are both special. They play in the defensive end as well, so they're not just one-dimensional."
Galchenyuk, whose father, Alex Sr., played for Belarus at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, was born in Milwaukee during a time when his father played for the Milwaukee Admirals of the International Hockey League. The younger Galchenyuk holds dual U.S. and Russian citizenship, but played for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka
Memorial Tournament over the summer, where he had 2 goals and 3 points in five games. He also was invited to the NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August.
Galchenyuk, who draws comparisons to Chicago's Marian Hossa
, has lived in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Russia, and speaks Italian, Russian and English.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale