The Columbus Blue Jackets top 2017 NHL Draft pick is entering his (hopefully) final season in Finland.
Alexandre Texier is the highest drafted Frenchman ever and he has just as high of exceptions heading into his last season in Finland’s SM-Liiga. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect will have just turned 19-years-old when he starts his second, and hopefully, final year with KalPa.
The Jackets traded up in the 2017 to draft the center and should be happy with his development to this point. Texier started his professional career in the French league as a 17-year-old. The subpar league was where Texier caught the eyes of NHL scouts scoring 10 goals and nine assist in 40 games.
Texier saw a significant step up in competition upon signing with KalPa. His 13 goals and nine assist in 53 games helped him finish fourth in scoring among players under the age of 19. His deployment hampered Texier a bit as he saw only second unit power play time and was generally a third line player.
Another season in Finland is exactly what Texier needs. It is the third best league in Europe, just behind the Swedish league and the KHL.
With KalPa, he not only gets to play against great competition, but with great young players as well. KalPa is the youngest team in Liiga and there are two fellow 2017 2nd round NHL draft picks – Montreal Canadiens pick Joni Ikonen and Carolina Hurricanes pick Eetu Luostarinen – who will join Texier again this season.
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The youngsters get to play under a great Finnish NHLer as well. Sami Kapanen is the head coach of KalPa and is a great asset for Texier as he develops. Kapanen played 831 games in the NHL and scored 458 points over 12 seasons in the league.
This year, Texier should see increased ice time on both the power play and in 5v5 situations. KalPa will again be a middle of the pack team, but they will rely on Texier to help increase goal scoring from last season when they finished fourth from last in the league.
Texier is a stud scorer and his ceiling this season is doubling his production from last year. 45 points in a 60 game season would be an impressive lift for him, but it’s possible.
More likely is that Texier gets second and third line duties and flirts with the 35 point mark. He still should get top power play unit duties to help bolster his numbers and push him towards 20 goals.
I find it hard to imagine Texier scoring any less than 30 points this year. His play drastically improved as the season went on and he showed flashes of brilliance in the World Championships while playing on a completely over-matched France team.
One thing that might affect Texier’s season is his involvement with the French World Junior Championship team. Texier has always competed for his native country in any IIHF competitions and I wouldn’t expect that to stop this season. That will take him away form KalPa for a few games in early December as he tries to lift France into the top IIHF WJC division.
Texier is in the final year of his contract with KalPa and, barring any unforeseen changes, should be heading over to North America after the 2018-2019 season concludes. He should be a big force for the team and continue to prove that he is one of the top two prospects in the Columbus Blue Jackets system.