It’s not hard to get caught up in World Junior fever.
You have your country to root for and the chance to see plenty of prospects you don’t normally watch. For Blue Jackets fans, players like Emil Bemstrom and Tim Berni were thrust to the spotlight with their performances. Daniil Tarasov and Kirill Marchenko didn’t play big roles for their teams, but they played enough to show a glimpse of what they are capable of.
Going on simultaneously to the World Juniors was another tournament, the Spengler Cup. It isn’t the prospect-laden tournament that the WJC is, however the Blue Jackets still had a top prospect participating.
Alexandre Texier, the Blue Jackets' No. 2 prospect in our summer rankings, and his team KalPa Kuopio were one of six teams participating in the tournament. Texier had a strong tournament for KalPa, recording one goal and three assists in four games. He added another goal in the shootout in the final as KalPa defeated Canada, becoming the first Finnish team to capture the historic trophy.
.@atexier99 ne pouvait pas mieux finir 2018 : il a remport avec @KalPa_Hockey la mythique Coupe Spengler.
Il a inscrit 3 pts durant le tournoi, un tir au but en finale face au Canada et soulve le trophe seulement 19 ans.
Vido de cette aventure.#KalPa #CBJ #CBJProspect pic.twitter.com/CZQ1Fxob1V
— Nicolas Jacquet (@Nicozzzzilla) December 31, 2018
This is a great highlight pack of what Texier did in the tournament.
His speed and vision are on display. I watched the finale and even though KalPa didn’t play well, Texier stood out. He’s a dynamic offensive player who, despite being one of the youngest on the team, was one who was relied upon to create offense. Texier was used on the top line as well as the top power play, and generated quite a few scoring chances on the power play when he had extra space to roam around. Time and space was not something KalPa had much of in this one.
KalPa (34% Corsi at 5-on-5 in the game) was content to let Canada control the play and jump on mistakes. Texier was at 29.6% Corsi for the game, as his struggles in the defensive zone are real. It’s improving, but remains his weakest area.
Interesting to see this Texier with Kalpa. Reminds me of my trips to Grenoble in his draft-year, just checking my then reports. Always liked his handskills and speed, since then he improved in his plays without the puck #OnTheRoadToNHL #ScoringStillMissingABit
— Thomas Roost (@thomasroost) December 30, 2018
Typically, Texier has been a strong possession player in the Liiga. He has a 51.3% Corsi at 5-on-5, per the official Liiga website. KalPa as a team is at 49.4%. Against Canada, Texier’s line was one of the only lines able to get quality offensive chances. They were able to skate with the Canadians. This was a good sign for Texier as Team Canada was filled with former NHL players.
When Texier was on the ice you could see the team ran through him. He wanted the puck, banging his stick on the ice for passes. This jives with what he has done during the regular season.
CAR's Eetu Luostarinen
CBJ's Alexandre Texier pic.twitter.com/BZGIjcCrjw
— Evan Oppenheimer (@OppenheimerEvan) December 25, 2018
Betweenness, which you can read about here, is essentially a measure of how directly involved a player is in his team’s offense. As you can see Texier is very involved in his KalPa’s offense.
Overall you would like to see Texier get a few more points. He has 16 in 31 games in the Liiga, which is fine, but for how involved he is you would think he would have more. His growth this season is impressive, he’s gone from a bottom six player to the top line. He needs to continue to improve his defensive game before he’s ready for the NHL. If it’s like anything else we have seen from Texier this year that will improve with time.
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