ALEXEI STONKUSâ€™S FIRST NORTH
Alexei Stonkus is a
promising offensive defenseman. He is one of several available out of Yaroslavl
at the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, joining Denis Grebeshkov and Denis Grot. He is a
member of the Russian â€™84 Junior Team and spent most of the last season with
Elemash Elektrostal, on loan from Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. RussianProspects and HF
writer Eugene Belashchenko caught up with Denis, while he was visiting Toronto
for the pre-draft physical examinations and NHL team interviews.
Alexei, how are you?
Everything is good.
First of all, can you tell
me where you were born, how you started to play hockey?
I was born in Yaroslavl. My
father took me to play hockey.
Who influenced your
development as a hockey player the most?
My father, he took me to
hockey from my childhood.
How would you describe your
style of play to those who are not familiar with you?
Well, I am an attacking
In what characteristics of
your game do you feel you need to work on the most?
I need to work on every
aspect of the game â€“ but most of all on my passing.
You spend most of the past
season with Elemash. Did you set any goals at the beginning of the season? Do
you believe that you achieved those goals?
Well, I started the season
of with Yaroslavlâ€™s
second team. There I had goals to move up. When I was transferred there [to
Elemash â€“ EB] the goals changed to play better with the guys and go to the World
Championships [U18 â€“ EB].
In April you did play at the
World Championships. It seemed you guys did play well together, since you
finished the tournament â€œsilverâ€. So, you guys had success everywhere, except
for the last game. What were impressions regarding the tournament? How did you
My level of play was a bit
worse then it was in Tyumen [5 Nations Tournament in Tyumen]. But, besides
that, everything was great except for the last game, of course.
What were your impressions
regarding the last game?
Well, we simply werenâ€™t
prepared for the game.
What was your role on the
â€™84 national squad? Did you get a lot of minutes on the power play, short
I did not play often on the
power play. I played more on defense, — short handed. I played with Shinin,
and we played well together.
This year you were invited
to the annual NHL draft which this year is held in
The Central Scouting Bureau ranks you 29th amongst European skaters â€“
which gives you a very solid chance to get drafted very high in the draft. What
are your feelings regarding this? Do you feel the pressure of the upcoming
No, nothing really.
Currently you are undergoing
pre-draft preparations where you have to take various physical tests? Do you
have any impressions regarding them? Is there a difference between those what
you are doing in Toronto
and what you usually did in Elemash?
Of course, I would say very
significant differences. Things werenâ€™t like this in Elemash.
What did you while with
Elemash that differed from this?
Well, in Elemash we mainly
exercised to stay in shape, — here it seems the more the better.
Is this your first visit to
I understand you guys went
Maple Leafs game against Carolina.
What did you think? Do you think there are any differences between the NHL and
hockey in Russia?
The game here is definitely
faster, more physical. Besides that, it is also made into a great show.
What are your plans for next
To make Yaroslavlâ€™s main
– Eugene Belashchenko