There’s a saying: “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
However, in the case of 2014 Sharks fourth-round Draft pick Alexis Vanier, it might as well be: “The bigger they are, the harder they hit.”
Really. This guy destroys people. He’s only 18, but this defenseman is built like a man-child, and seems to revel in using his brute strength to bully smaller opponents.
A Quebec native, Vanier’s command of the English language is still a bit spotty. However, he is perfectly capable of getting his message across, although his track-record suggests that the only message he ever tries to send opponents is: “Get ready for pain.” Or: “Préparez-vous pour la douleur” in his native language.
- At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Vanier is a hulking, physical, stay-at-home defenseman in every sense of the words. However, Vanier uses his muscle to do more than just physically punish his opponents; he also uses it to pound the puck, having improved from scoring 0 goals in 2012-13 to 15 this past season.
- Had his 2013-14 season curtailed by a shoulder injury, which was operated on in April. Vanier just started skating again last week, and is expected to be fully healthy when the season starts this coming fall.
- Plays for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar, whose French team name – Drakkar – roughly translates to the singular “Viking ship” in English.
- Baie-Comeau is one of the most remote outposts in Quebec-based junior hockey. It is a nine hour drive northeast from Montreal, along the St. Lawrence River. Or to look at it another way, winter temperatures in Baie-Comeau “average” in the neighborhood of zero degrees Fahrenheit, with wind chills that can get as low as -40 to -50 degrees.
- In a moment of humorous candor, Vanier was asked by reporters what he thought of his own skating, following his selection. Vanier’s reply: “It’s good.” The next immediate question he faced was what he felt he most needed to improve upon. His answer: “My skating.” Certainly a very honest answer, but an answer that is a sneak peek into Vanier’s not seeing “good” as good enough. He wants to be better.