The son of the late SKA and Russian national team standout Nikolai Drozdetsky, Alexander possesses a natural talent that Philadelphia Flyers chief European scout, Inge Hammarström, likened on draft day 2000 to that of the legendary Igor Larionov. He has yet to approach that lofty billing.
Drozdetsky is more potential than actual production. He is a regular in the RSL.
Drozdetsky probably should have been with the Russian team at the 2000-01 WJC. He was a victim of a controversial selection process for the team. Not only was Drozdetsky conspicuously absent from the final roster, Team Russia coach Petr Vorobiev did not even extend training camp invitations to Drozdetsky or several other prominent young Russian players (including Valeri Khlebnikov, Ilya Nikulin, Sergei Soin, Alexander Frolov, Sergei Mozyakin, Yuri Trubachev, and Sergei Mozyakin). Eyebrows were also raised when highly regarded defensemen Kirill Safronov was cut from the team before the end of camp.
While Drozdetsky did not appear for the national team at the WJC, he did suit up for Russia at the Five Nations Tournament, garnering one assist in four games. In December, he and the other SKA players toured the USA, playing a series of games against NCAA college teams.
On draft day 2000, the Flyers scouts were more excited about Drozdetsky than any other selection they made, including first rounder Justin Williams (who went on to play the whole season with the big club). Flyers chief European scout, Inge Hammarström, who is rarely given to hyperbole when assessing players, pushed hard for Drozdetsky’s selection. Bob Clarke listened and was prepared to take the Russian winger with the Flyers first round pick. Hammarström told him that he thought Drozdetsky had not been scouted properly by the CSB and may still be available when the Flyers turn came up in the third round. He was correct.
After the selection of Drozdetsky became official, Hammarström was unusually excited, telling Clarke that the Flyers had just "hit a home run," comparing Drozdetsky to a young Igor Larionov and predicting that Drozdetsky would be a Flyers regular within two years. Hammarström has a track record of being proven right when he feels strongly enough about a prospect to lobby hard for their selection – the most famous examples being Peter Forsberg, Mikael Renberg, Dmitri Yushkevich, and Janne Niinimaa. Even a couple of his "misses" (Patrik Juhlin, Viacheslav Butsayev) at least played in the NHL and were regulars for a time.
Drozdetsky is a prospect with high upward mobility but still in dire need of filling out. He has most of the physical tools of an impact NHL player. His skating is virtually flawless. He accelerates very quickly and can change directions in a flash. A very strong puckhandler, Drozdetsky is also blessed with good ice vision. He has a quick shot release and soft hands. Perhaps most importantly, he is said to have a strong will to improve and to work at becoming a two-way player.
Drozdetsky's promise has not yet translated to much in the scoring column, something that is not uncommon for young players competing at the senior level of Russian hockey. Sooner or later, though, the offensive numbers must start to pick up. He will also need to add considerable muscle to compete in the pro game in North America.
There is still a lot of work to be done before Inge Hammarström's lofty predictions for Drozdetsky can start to come to fruition.