Alexandre Texier will be joining the Cleveland Monsters on Friday after wrapping up a brilliant season with KalPa of the Liiga, Finland's top professional hockey league. The move was expected, and has now been confirmed by the club.
The highly-touted prospect, who the Blue Jackets traded up to draft with the 45th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, has exceeded expectations in his two professional seasons since being drafted.
Right after the NHL trade deadline passed at 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 25, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen addressed the media, and shed light on why the club was comfortable trading draft picks and prospects to stockpile expiring contracts.
He mentioned Texier by name, and said that he, alongside Emil Bemstrom and Liam Foudy, were essentially non-starters in trade talks. It's easy now to see why: Texier was among the best point producers in a notoriously stingy Liiga, finishing 24th in the league with 41 points in 55 games, while leading his KalPa team in scoring. Remember, Kekalainen's past includes playing, scouting for, and managing a team in Liiga, so his familiarity with the league is noteworthy.
Jarmo Kekalainen raved about 19-year old Texier's season in Finland:
14 goals, 27 assists and 41 points.
For that age, to do that in that league is special. Thats why he was one of those prospects that under no circumstances was going to be moved at the deadline."#CBJ
— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) March 14, 2019
But that still somehow manages to understate just how incredible a season it was for the Frenchman, who's quickly blazing a trail for a country not known for regularly producing NHL caliber talent.
Texier, who won't turn 20 until September, has caught the attention of Blue Jackets management, and could be a dark-horse candidate to make the team out of camp next year. It's also possible that, should the Monsters fail to advance to the playoffs, he could be a 'black ace', a player that practices with the NHL club during the playoffs, that could seize an opportunity should it present itself.
The prospect's season got off to a solid but unspectacular start (a pre-season injury likely didn't help), tallying 16 points in the first 31 games of the season, before lighting the league aflame, posting 25 points in the last 24 games. That meteoric rise gave him the club's lead in points and allowed him to finish the year wearing the golden helmet, a tradition in Liiga in which a team's top point scorer dons a bright gold helmet.
He finished his season brilliantly, scoring two goals, including the OT winner, and adding a beautiful primary assist in his team's season finale.
Texier's season will go down as one of the best U20 season's in the history of Liiga, and the most productive by a KalPa player in their history. He's also among the best Frenchmen to ever play in Liiga.
— CBJ Prospects (@CBJProspects) March 14, 2019
The forward is clearly part of the future of the Blue Jackets. Being thrust into a playoff race at the AHL level should be a challenge for the young player, who is versatile enough to play wing and center, and the organization will certainly be watching to see how he performs on the smaller North American ice for the first time in his career.
For Blue Jackets fans who were upset to see the franchise trade away high draft picks and promising prospects, Texier's arrival in Cleveland is more than welcome.
Stay tuned for more coverage of Blue Jackets prospects, including Texier, as they make their way to North America.
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