The second highest member of the Sarnia Sting on this list checks in at number seven.
Born: February 12, 1994
In the world of sports there are plenty of clichés we can bandy about to describe the unknown entity. The X Factor or the Wild Card both do the trick most of the time. In the case of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the unknown entity is called Alex Galchenyuk.
Here’s what we do know. Galchenyuk is a phenomenal talent and was on pace to help lead the Sarnia Sting to what looked like a very promising season before injuries took hold. He scored 80 points as a rookie in the Ontario League after scoring 80 as a midget player living in Chicago. Those 80 points in midget — 87 to be exact — came in just 38 games.
Unfortunately, we don’t know what the ceiling is. A pre-season knee injury limited Galchenyuk’s season to just eight games between the regular season and the playoffs and the limited viewings have thrown any gauge of his progress to this point off the mark. We know that the talent is there, but where it stands among other players his age remains to be seen.
Despite the question marks, it’s unlikely that teams will pass on the American — yes, American — and he will likely be off the board by the time the sixth pick rolls around. But what type of player are we looking at here?
“Some of the comparisons you get, I’ve heard his game compared to Marian Hossa but I’ve heard when he was with Chicago he had the best hands since Bobby Ryan when he played in that league,” said Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News. “I’ve also heard that the attention to detail he has on the ice reminded another scout of Stamkos when he was at Sarnia so there’s lots of accolades being thrown his way. It’s kind of funny because the being-injured-for-a-year thing just means you may need to wait another year to get him back on his feet in Sarnia, no need to rush him.”
It’s no secret that teams will gladly wait a year to get a bonafide top six talent in the NHL. Regardless of how we spin it skill reigns supreme in this league and with a possible lockout coming in 2012-13 waiting a year for Galchenyuk to grow in junior another year appears to be a reasonable — if not prudent — risk to take.
As things stand he appears poised to pick up where he left off at the tail end of 2010-11.
“He did great with the physical test at the combine, I don’t think there’s any question with how he’ll come back from the knee injury, he plays his position well, he’ll throw a check, I think the one question is his acceleration — they always talk about first step quickness and his isn’t great according to a scouting report I read.” said Neate Sager, editor of Yahoo!’s Buzzing the Net. ”Once he gets going he’s pretty quick — he actually won the fastest skater at the NHL R&D camp last summer.”
There have been some drive-by attempts to suggest that the KHL may lure Galchenyuk — and fellow prospects Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov — away from NHL teams. The problem with that connection, of course, is that in the case of Galchenyuk you have a player who considers himself American and not many American players are clamoring to play their hockey in the KHL.
“I think with him and Yakupov and Grigorenko they’ve come over here, they want to play in the NHL. I think Grigorenko gets the roughest ride because there are other concerns with him and people tend to pile on,” said Kennedy. “Once you start poking holes it’s like ‘Well there’s also this, and there’s also this.’ The kid was wearing a Canadian flag golf shirt to the combine. He really wants to do it.”
The intriguing part of Galchenyuk’s game is that his high end potential could see him emerge as the top impact player from the 2012 draft. While Yakupov stole the show with bigger numbers in Sarnia, Galchenyuk may actually be the more complete player making the conscious effort to play a two-way game.
The flipside to that, of course, is when you have players this skilled, you have to get the puck away from them for defense to be a concern at all.
From the horse’s mouth