Red Deer Rebels defenceman Alex Alexeyev was picked 31st overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals on Friday night. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Video: Red Deer Rebels defenceman Alex Alexeyev drafted by Washington Capitals

Alexeyev picked 3st overall by reigning Stanley Cup champions

In a season full of ups and downs, Alex Alexeyev enters the summer with a shining moment to overcome it all.

The Rebels Russian defenceman was selected by the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in the first round, 31st overall in the NHL Entry Draft in Dallas, Texas on Friday night.

“I’m so happy I can’t believe it, I don’t know how to explain my emotion, so happy,” Alexeyev told Sportsnet after he was picked on the opening night of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

Alexeyev, 18, is the first Rebel to be selected in the first round since Haydn Fleury was picked seventh overall in 2014.

It was a tumultuous year for the defender, who missed time early in the season with an upper-body injury, then broke his finger trying to catch a pick midway through the campaign. He also suffered through an unthinkable family tragedy, when his mother died in January and he missed more than a month of the WHL season.

“She would be so happy to see me in this jersey. I hope she sees me right now,” Alexeyev said on Sportsnet after the selection.

Through it all this season, the six-foot-four, 195-pound defender registered seven goals and 30 assists in 45 games, along with five points in three playoff games.

He played in all situations for Red Deer and most often drew tough assignments against the other team’s top line.

The defenceman was ranked number 22 among North American skaters heading into the draft on Friday. He was one of 14 defencemen picked in the first round.

He was originally selected by the Rebels 49th overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft. In his first campaign with the Rebels, he notched four goals and 17 assists in 41 games but missed most of the second half with a shoulder injury.

Alexeyev was one of only two WHL players selected in the first round, with Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs going to the New Jersey Devils in the 17th spot.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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