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2019 NHL Draft prospect profile: Nikita Alexandrov is a solid pivot who flashes high-level skill

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Normally looking like a run-of-the-mill responsible centre, Alexandrov will occasionally pull off a series of jaw-dropping moves.

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There are few German-born players in the NHL today. Two of them play for the Edmonton OilersLeon Draisaitl and Tobias Rieder — and there are a couple of established goalies. It is not a big draft-eligible market. But as hockey grows, so is the interest for the sport in Germany, and so is the quality of domestic leagues.

Birthplace: Burgwedel, GER
Shoots: Left
Position: C
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 179 lbs.
Team: Charlottetown Islanders

Nikita Alexandrov is of Russian descent, but was born in Germany. He played in the German youth leagues and dominated the Junior levels, scored 61 points in 36 games as a 16-year-old in the U19 DNL before joining the Charlottetown Islanders for the 2017-18 season. Since then, he has shown steady progression in North America.

EliteProspects

Alexandrov acts as a solid centreman for the Islanders. He doesn’t have the biggest frame at 6’0’’ and 179 pounds, but he is hard to knock off his skates and is at ease playing in heavy traffic.

His offensive game is based on driving the net. He doesn’t bulldoze his way there, but instead relies on a combination of physicality and awareness to slip through the defence to attack the doorstep. He protects the puck well with his body and he keeps his head up to find holes in the goalie’s coverage.

Nikita Alexandrov wears #14 with the Charlottetown Islanders, and at the CHL Top Prospect Game.

He is not the fastest in a straight line, but has good acceleration, allowing him to escape from tight spaces with possession.

This was one of the best sequences from Alexandrov’s season. After an offensive faceoff, he found the puck and scored a beautiful goal:

His Bobby Orr-like finish is a testament to his skill. He flashes agile hands and will sometimes string together two or three moves to create space for himself. He can also be quite deceptive in those sequences, reading the defence and adjusting the position of the puck to keep possession under pressure.

Beyond his net drives and board work, Alexandrov is also a smart passer with the vision to find his teammates in scoring areas. He can act both as a setup man and scorer. The advanced stats from Mitch Brown’s tracking project paint him as an effective two-way player — which he should also become at the next level.

From Mitch Brown CHL tracking project

In the games tracked, Alexandrov was great at limiting opposing shot attempts, recovering dump-ins, and getting the puck out of the zone in a controlled manner. He was also effective on the backcheck.

The main issue with the centreman is that he is inconsistent. It’s why ‘’flashes of skill’’ is probably the appropriate way to describe his game. Watching him, it sometimes feel that there is much more offence that has yet to be unlocked.

There are some sequences where he shows high-level abilities, like the ones above and the clip below, where his innate understanding of how to move defenders and create space for himself, and the talent to execute, are on display. But for long minutes during games he goes back to a very simple approach, relying on the cycle to try to create his offence.

It might be because he wasn’t playing at a competitive level in the German leagues before coming over last year. The prospect’s background indicates that he could realistically still be adjusting to the North American game and integrating his skill into his everyday play.

Which may also makes the age factor less important for the centreman. He was born a day later than the cutoff of September 15. He is then almost a full year older than Nick Robertson (September 11 birthday). But contrary to the assumptions made for older draftees, in the case of Alexandrov, he could have just as much room for growth.

Even considering his weaknesses, there is already a lot to like about Alexandrov. He plays a game that should translate to the professional leagues (with some adjustment). His big jump from Central Scouting’s midterm rankings (45) to the end-of-season list (29) is also an indication that he recently made more believers out of scouts.

Rankings (not all rankings are final)

Elite Prospects: #64
McKenzie/TSN: #75
NHL Central Scouting: #29 (NA Skaters)

In June, he could realistically be selected somewhere in the second to early third round.