Red Deer Rebels defenceman Alex Alexeyev is still living on cloud nine.
The Russian blueliner had a dream come true last Friday when he was selected in the first round of the NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals.
It got even better that night when he received a a FaceTime call from one of his hockey heroes – Alexander Ovechkin.
“Someone gave me a phone, and there was Ovie’s face. I was so happy. He was just a nice guy. (He) congratulated me,” Alexeyev said.
“I was watching highlights of him (as a kid) and playing PlayStation as him. Same thing with Kuzy (Evgeny Kuznetsov) and (Dmitry) Orlov. Watching them play in the World Juniors when they won and how they played in the NHL. Now it’s pleasure to be here because one day I’m going to meet them.”
Alexeyev said he can’t wait to suit up alongside fellow Russian players Orlov and Kuznetsov.
For now, the 18-year-old has been soaking up the professional hockey life at Capitals Development Camp, where he’s already had an impact and learned to elevate his defensive game and gain some exercise and nutrition tips.
He even scored an overtime goal to win a 3-on-3 mini-tournament at camp.
“We played six games, half ice. We were in the final and I scored in overtime. Just a breakaway and put it five-hole,” Alexeyev said.
“It (has been) amazing. I’m still happy with my smile. It hasn’t went away. It’s a nice team here and nice people all around. I feel like a pro. It’s nice to be here.”
Alexeyev played 45 games tallying up seven goals and 30 assists this season in his second year in the WHL. He said he wasn’t sure if that was enough to get him picked in the first round.
In late January, Alexeyev was out for almost three weeks after his mother died in Russia. He also missed time when he missed time with an upper-body injury and a broken finger.
His mother’s death was something that weighed heavy on his shoulders when he returned to Red Deer. Alexeyev said when he was picked by the Capitals on draft night, he felt the weight lift just for a few moments.
“I just feel like it’s so much easier now. I feel like I deserve it from the stuff I’ve been through. Big weight off my shoulders and started being happy for myself and for my family who helped me on my way to this dream,” Alexeyev said.
“(My mom) would be happy to see me in a Washington Capitals jersey and I wish she was there at the draft and saw me being happy. She would be happy, too.”
Alexeyev will return to St. Petersburg when development camp finishes and spend some time with his family. He plans on training in California this summer, then will head to Capitals Rookie Camp in the fall. From there he hopes that one day soon he’ll be contributing to a Washington Stanley Cup run and eventually hoist the NHL’s most prestigious trophy.
“It’s just my dream come true. I’ve been dreaming about this since I first stepped on the ice. About the NHL and now I’m here. I’m just happy,” he said.