The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Raw Charge community. Ten writers and 106 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked, plus Honorable Mentions.
Alexander Volkov was more than a bit of a surprise pick for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He was selected 48th overall as a 19, almost 20-year old overage pick out of Russia. He was an under the radar pick among public scouting services. The Lightning though had him on their draft board and had thoughts that someone else might take him so they snagged him with their second round pick.
Volkov spent 2016-17 playing in the SKA St. Petersburg organization in Russia. He played 16 games in the MHL with six goals and 11 points. He also played in four playoff games putting up two goals and four points. He also spent time playing in the minor league VHL posting three goals in 15 games. He added another goal and three points in eight playoff games. In his previous season in the MHL, he scored 16 goals and 27 points in 42 games.
With SKA’s stacked roster, Volkov was not looking at good opportunities to move up and wanted to find an opportunity to play elsewhere. At 6’1” and 192 pounds, he had the size and hands to put himself on the radar. His 200-foot game was also touted as being a strength of his. He got out of his contract with SKA and signed an entry level contract with the Lightning.
His rookie season in the AHL went much like it did for the other rookies on the Syracuse Crunch. He started off slowly and gradually turned it on as the season went on. He ended up posting 23 goals and 45 points in 75 games to come in fourth in scoring on the Crunch. He added another three goals and six points in seven playoff games.
Volkov came to North America not having a lot of English, but quickly showed that he was a very coachable player that understood what the coaches were asking of him. The goal for him was to continue to improve throughout the season and he did just that. While the Lightning have been known for bringing in Russian players, he only had one teammate through the year that spoke Russian in Dennis Yan to help him make the transition.
Volkov’s ranking last year I feel owes to the fact that we knew very little about him. Getting to see a full year of action in the AHL has given us more of an idea of what the team has with Volkov. He looks to be a player that eventually will slot into the middle six in the NHL. He may still be another year or two away from making the NHL line-up though with so many other forward prospects vying for just a handful of roster spots in Tampa Bay.
With a year of experience under his belt, it won’t be a surprise if Volkov takes a big step forward offensively for the Crunch. He should be a prominent fixture in their top six and is expected to score goals for the team as they look to take another run at a Calder Cup Trophy. I would not be surprised if he scored 35 goals and 60+ points in this upcoming campaign as one of the Crunch’s leading scorers.