On The Horizon: Alexander Ovechkin

By Jake Dole
Many fans caught a glimpse of this 16-year old (Moscow) Dynamo at the recent U-17 challenge. Russian prospect Alexander Ovechkin is making a lot of noise in the scouting community, as many consider him to be the early favorite for the 2004 NHL draft.

Born on the 17th of September, 1985, Ovechkin missed 2003 eligibility by a thread (or a couple of days to be exact). His on-ice intelligence and pure game-breaking ability makes one question the validity of his birthdate. However, there is no mistake; this phenom will not be property of an NHL team for more than 2 years.

He has drawn comparisons to Ilya Kovalchuk, last year’s first overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. And rightfully so, considering that Ovechkin is getting regular icetime with the Moscow Dynamo of the Russian Superleague (the top hockey league in the country).

So far in 10 games, Ovechkin has collected 2 goals, 3 points and has earned a first star honour in a recent match.

Alexander has fit in perfectly with his fellow ‘Dynamites’, playing on the line with Raviil Yakubov and Alexei Tereschenko. A right winger, Ovechkin has demonstrated maturity and poise beyond his years, earning praise from critics, fans and coaches alike.

Ovechkin’s 7 goal, 20 point performance (in 13 games) in the Russian 1st division earned him the call-up to the top club, where he has surprised many by consistently piling up the points.

Alexander is a big, balanced skater whose skating skills make scouts drool. I had the opportunity to ask a scout (who resides in Russia) for his opinion on Ovechkin. He said, “Talent-wise, (Ovechkin) is top 5 in the world… He can score at will. He also has size, and could grow to 6’4″ before he is drafted. Just a great combination of a player. I guess he is a more rounded and filled out version of Joe Thornton.”

Ovechkin’s teammate, Yakubov has become, sort of a tutor, for the youngster, teaching him the highs and the lows of pro hockey. There has been a lot of chemistry between the two and Alexei Tereschenko.
“Alexei Tereschenko and I are doing our best to help the team”, said Ovechkin, “during practice we work on this play: Alexei dishes me the puck from behind the net and I try to fool the goalie”.

It will be no surprise if this young gun will be fooling goalies in the NHL for years to come. There is no way of knowing if he will progress as well as Kovalchuk, but he already shares similiar maturity and work ethic. Unlike Ilya, Ovechkin’s style is not as heated and intense. Alexander plays a less fiesty game, but he passes with more regularity than his countryman Kovalchuk.

It is interesting to point out that Ovechkin, at 16, is already contributing in the Superleague, as Kovalchuk dominated with Spartak Moscow of the High League last year. And it is no secret that the two leagues don’t even compare in playing style. The High League to the Superleague is like the AHL to the NHL.

Up Close and Personal

Alexander Ovechkin is a big fan of the National Hockey League which, he says, he watches with regularity. He is a big fan of the San Jose Sharks, as his favorite player is Owen Nolan.

Read more about Alexander and other futures in the recently released Beyond Tomorrow. Also catch Eugene Belashchenko’s Profile of Alex Ovechkin.