Russian prospect Alexander Ovechkin is known for his great shot, blazing speed but not for his ability in other sports.
The 19-year-old left winger is the top-ranked European skater according to the Central Scouting Bureau but that doesn’t tell the whole story; this guy could possibly be a two-sport athlete if he wanted to pursue that.
Ovechkin played all sports growing up so you know that he is a special athlete right out of the box. His best sports were soccer, football, and basketball. He seemed most proud about his basketball prowess. Possibly it stems from the fact that his mother, Tatiana, played on two Russian Olympic basketball teams (1976 and 1980). His father played soccer so there is no coincidence that he is a gifted sportsman.
“I play center,” said the 6-foot-2-hockey player. “I can jump.”
Ovechkin is likely to be the #1 pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft – – a pick held by the Washington Capitals. Right now some of the top prospects are touring with the NHL to be seen. There are some great perks like getting to see a Stanley Cup Finals game! Does this future great dream of playing for the ultimate prize?
“Yeah I hope so, I want to play in one.”
This kid has a great sense of humor as outlined above and he is very confident. He should follow in the footsteps of Atlanta superstar Ilya Kovalchuk and never see a day in juniors or the AHL unless there is a lockout. The one difference between Ovechkin and Kovalchuk is his tremendous work ethic; it took Ilya a few seasons to become totally committed on and off the ice.
When the Washington Press was grilling the young Russian about coming to their team, claiming that they needed a scorer, he had a great answer.
“You have Alexander Semin,” he said confidently.
This winger can think on his feet and the way that he kept the media off balance was a veteran move. Semin is a fellow countryman and they will always stick together, especially since they are both terrific players. Ovechkin had seven points in six 2004 World Junior Championship games plus he had 25 PIMS. He was only the second player in Russian Hockey history to play on the National team at the age of 17! Hall-of-Fame goalie Vladislav Tretiak was the other. He definitely plays with an edge and that is necessary in the NHL today.
Growing up in Moscow Ovechkin became quite a collector of hockey cards and memorabilia. This shows that he has a real respect for the sport and the players that came before him.
“Yeah I collect cards,” said Ovechkin. “I have five or six albums. My favorite is a Wayne Gretzky card.”
Like every good collector, Ovechkin has a special room dedicated to his prize pieces. If you don’t have a room like that, as I do, then you should get one because it becomes a fun place to hang out and look through your stuff once in a while.
“I have a puck from my first goal in the WJC,” said Ovechkin. “I also have my first goal puck from the Russian Championship.”
There are two things that will hold true in the coming years. Ovechkin will score a boatload of goals and his first NHL hockey card (he already has had some Russian hockey cards released, his first card, according to the Charlton, was in the 2002-2003 Russian Future Stars
set) will be very sought after.