2009-10 is the second year in the AHL for Alexander Vasyunov. The 21-year-old Russian left his KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl last season after just two games. His adaptation towards the more demanding North American game was initially hard, but lately has been more productuve, and he recently scored his first pro hat trick. On the season he has 12 goals and 27 points in 48 games for the Lowell Devils.
The 6’0", 190 lb. left winger hasn’t yet made his NHL debut. But it still looks like the Devils, who took him in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, are more than willing to give him a chance, like they did with the other Russian prospect in the organization, Vladimir Zharkov. While it’s hard to predict when exactly the Devils might call Vasyunov up, he should see some time at least by next season.
HF: Partway through last season you left for America. How did you arrange your move? Lokomotiv simply let you go?
AV: All went very well with my old team. We shook hands and wished good luck. (smiles)Russia
HF: Was it hard to adapt?
AV: The first season was very hard. You know, getting in a new country, within a new team, with new parents. And the language barrier too. There is also an absolutely different level of hockey and I needed to get used to everything.
HF: Throughout your whole career you scored more goals than assists. This year it’s the other way around. Did you change something in your style?
AV: No, I never tried changing my style. Simply it’s turned out this way. (smiles)
HF: You haven’t yet played in the NHL. Did the Devils explain you why? Are you disappointed not to play in the NHL?
AV: At the beginning of the season I didn’t play any exhibition games, but I was in good shape anyway. I tried hard to get to the Devils’ roster, but they told to me that I have to work more in order to play in the NHL.
HF: Your role grow since the last season, and you look a lot more confident. What do you think you need to do so that next season the Devils will think that they truly need you?
AV: I don’t have enough consistency. I can play a game perfectly, and then the next two I might play very bad. I have to work on this aspect, after all the most important part of a hockey player is his head.
HF: On December 16th you scored a hat trick against the Springfield Falcons. Surely it was great…
AV: Yes, of course it was pleasant, but it’s in the past already.
HF: Can you try comparing the game in the AHL and in Russia?
AV: Probably the main difference is that in the AHL there is the small ice surface. Because of this, there are more battles for the puck and less time for decision-making. In Russia, the game is a bit slower and with more reasoning.
HF: What did surprise you in the pro game? The speed? The more emphasis on physical play?
AV: Nothing surprised me especially when I came here to play. Only fights surprised me, at first.
HF: Did you have to change any of your equipment after your arrival in America?
AV: No, I have special preferences only for the stick so all remained the same.
HF: With whom are you playing?
AV: My partners are always different.
HF: How do you spend your free time in Lowell?
AV: I like spending free time at the computer, or visiting my friends from Boston.
HF: Did you find a girlfriend in America or do you have one back home in Yaroslavl?
AV: No, I don’t have a girlfriend right now, but I do hope this will soon change! (smiles)
HF: How is your English now? Getting better?
AV: Yes, I think my English is improved. I understand the coach and my partners, the rest is not important.
HF: How would you describe yourself personality-wise?
AV: I’m modest, kind, loving the family.
HF: Are you still in touch with Vladimir Zharkov?
AV: Yes, of course, sometimes we call up each other.