ST. LOUIS -- Nikita Alexandrov already had plenty of motivation being the top pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 NHL Draft, but the fact they will enter this season as defending Stanley Cup champions fires up the 18-year-old center prospect even more.
"I think it was exciting for me; they won the Cup for a reason," said Alexandrov, who watched the Blues' 4-1 win in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins on June 12 when he was at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. "I know it's a winning organization. Everyone wants to win, so I'm really happy to get drafted by a winning organization."
Alexandrov, born to Russian parents in Burgwedel, Germany, left his homeland after finishing the 10th grade to come to Canada in 2017. He has played the past two seasons for Charlottetown of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and had 92 points (40 goals, 52 assists) in 130 regular-season games, including 61 points (27 goals, 34 assists) in 64 games last season.
He was selected by St. Louis in the second round (No. 62) of the 2019 draft on June 22. The Blues had traded their first-round pick (No. 31) to the Buffalo Sabres to acquire forward Ryan O'Reilly.
"I was fortunate enough to watch [Alexandrov] play against one of our kids (forward Mathias Laferriere) in Cape Breton, so I got to watch him a couple times," said Tim Taylor, the Blues director of player development. "He's slick. He doesn't look like he's the guy with the most speed, but then he gets the puck and he separates himself. He's a very smart player. He's a good kid, he's a good problem-solver. Intellectually, he's a smart kid. Most kids, especially Russian backgrounds, are a little more reserved. He's outgoing."
Alexandrov (6-foot, 190 pounds), spent a week in St. Louis during Blues development camp in June and said it was important for him to work on his offensive skill and compete level.
"I really have to have a good summer and then obviously after, I can see how long I will need to make the next step," said Alexandrov, who models his long-skating stride after Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov and the hands and quick shot of Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews.
Those are some character traits Alexandrov believes caught the Blues' attention.
"Throughout the year, they obviously talked to me," he said. "I think at the combine, we had a really good conversation and a really good meeting. I just had the feeling kind of too, going into the draft and being a second-round pick, that's where I thought I was going to go. Obviously it came out good."
Alexandrov will spend the summer in Germany and return to Charlottetown for a third season; that is unless he can become the next Robert Thomas, the forward who was the No. 20 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and made the St. Louis roster out of training camp.
"It will be a really hard summer for me," Alexandrov said. "I will try for sure to make the [Blues] right away, but if not, obviously go back to Charlottetown in Quebec and spend a year there and see what's next."
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