Brotherly advice helping Whalers’ Peters navigate his draft year

By Jason Menard

Alex Peters - Plymouth Whalers

Photo: Plymouth Whalers defenseman and 2014 prospect Alex Peters played for Team Orr in the 2014 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, getting on the scoresheet via a two-minute penalty (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Plymouth Whalers’ defense prospect Alex Peters benefits from a pair of older brothers who have been through the NHL Draft experience and seen it all — literally, as they both bring a goal line perspective to the game and the draft process that Alex says has been beneficial.

“They’ve given me some helpful pointers along the way and have really helped set out a guide for me to follow to help with the experience so far,” Peters explained. “They basically just said you can’t focus too much on the draft. You just have to play your game and let everything fall into place.”

Eldest brother Justin spent the last half of his final OHL season backstopping the Plymouth Whalers after two-and-a-half years with the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors. He was selected in the second round of the 2004 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. Since his NHL debut in 2009-10, Justin has played in 68 games.

Middle brother Anthony bounced around the OHL playing for Kingston, Belleville, Mississauga, and Saginaw. He’s spent the past two years playing with St. Mary's in the Canadian university system.

In addition to navigating the draft, Alex’s older brothers have given him some tips on navigating the defensive zone.

“They’ve told me about positioning, how it’s easier for them to stop the puck and what position I should be in to help them out,” he explained. “They’ve also said how talking with [goaltenders] really helps out a lot.”

But, despite ample opportunities for hand-me-down equipment, Peters said he was able to avoid falling into the crease.

“Ever since I was young, goalie never really worked for me,” he said. “Out-player was a better suit, so I went that way.”

And, as a defensive defenceman, things seem to be working out for the 6’3”, 210-pound defender. In Central Scouting’s most recent rankings, Peters is listed as the 36th-best North American prospect. Although pleased with his spot on the list, Peters isn’t going to let the ranking get to his head.

“It wasn’t much of a reaction. That matters little, but when it comes down to it, it’s only what happens at the end of the year that counts, so I’m not focusing too much on it now,” he said. “Obviously it’s motivation to say I’ve got to work harder to keep the spot or go up even higher.”

Peters has the size and temperment to be a solid defensive defenseman. He participated in this year’s Top Prospects Game and has played a key defensive role for a Whalers' club that has pretty much setted into a playoff spot.

“I’m a shut-down D-man. I like to move the puck and sometimes jump up in the rush, but mostly I just try to shut them down,” he said. “There’s a player on Washington, Karl Alzner, and I play the same type of game as him. It’s just solid defense.”

But could there be a spark that’s going to lead to an offensive explosion starting? After going goalless last year, Peters has scored three in 35 games this year.

“I don’t know about that. It’s just the bounces have gone my way so far,” he said.

With the draft quickly approaching, Peters is focused on improving his individual game within the context of a Whalers playoff run.

“Everybody can work on a lot of things and for me that’s skating and, obviously, stickhandling. I’m not the offensive guy, so hopefully that improves and it helps me boost my game,” he said. “The better the team does, the more opportunity we have to play, and the better we look when we win. Hopefully we can spread the gap between us and ninth place.”

As a native of Blyth, ON, you could expect Peters to be either a Maple Leafs or Red Wings fan. Instead, Peters chose to support his big brothers.

“I was always just cheering for my brothers and whatever team they were playing for was my number-one priority,” he said.

So does that make Peters a Carolina Hurricanes fan?

“Well, right now, when he’s playing.”

And as for brotherly competition, will that extend to Alex trying to outdo Justin’s draft positioning?

“Well, it’d obviously be nice to be a bit higher than him,” he said. “It’s not that much of a competition, though — I just want to go to the place that best fits me.”

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