Victoria Grizzlies Alex Newhook (18) fights off the Alberni Bulldogs on March 4 at The Q Centre. (Spencer Pickles/Black Press)

Victoria Grizzlies Alex Newhook (18) fights off the Alberni Bulldogs on March 4 at The Q Centre. (Spencer Pickles/Black Press)

Island prospect aims for the top of the NHL draft

Victoria Grizzly Alex Newhook thinks he has a lot to prove between now and next June

Connor McDavid. Auston Matthews. And, this year, Rasmus Dahlin.

Late June is the time of year when teenage players suddenly become household names for hardcore hockey fans across the country as the annual NHL draft takes centre stage.

Victoria Grizzly Alex Newhook could be joining them 12 months from now. In a slew of projections for the 2019 NHL draft, Newhook was ranked to go in the top five, in some instances as high as second.

But first, he has some business to take care of here.

At the tender age of 17, Newhook will be captaining the Victoria squad – a title he’s excited to take on, even though it’s a big responsibility.

Lance Black, president of the Grizzlies, said when he first met Newhook, Newhook was only 16, but had the poise of a 20-year-old.

Black said Newhook leads by example, and when he speaks, his teammates listen, adding he takes nothing for granted, is focused and is the type of person the Grizzlies want in a leadership role.

Newhook admitted it took a bit of deciding whether or not to come back, but he said when he laid out all his options and took into account the city, organization, and teammates, he felt Victoria was the right fit. The Halifax Mooseheads own Newhook’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) rights.

“I was happy in Victoria last year,” he said. “Going back to Victoria is something I’m excited about.”

He feels the familiarity of it all will help him play at his best before in his draft year.

He said that hearing his name in the mix at the top of the draft is exciting, but admits he still has a lot to prove and it’s still a long ways away. While he has his sights set on Boston College, being drafted is what he is striving for, plain and simple.

“Next year is going to be a huge year for me, being in your draft year motivates players,” he said.

Reflecting on last season, Newhook was pleased with the Grizzlies’ regular season, finishing at the top of the Island division, and he hopes to lead the team with consistency into the off-season next year.

“When playoffs come around, we want to keep it up, getting eliminated in the second round was tough, so we want to use that momentum going forward,” he said.

Newhook has been enjoying time with family and friends back in Newfoundland since the end of the Grizzlies’ season. He said the past few months are the most time he has spent at home in the past two or three years.

He continues to take his high school courses in B.C. through distance education and takes his tests in Newfoundland. He was able to watch his younger sister, Abby, play hockey when he got home, which is rare because of the distance, mentioning he’s always impressed with how much improvement he sees in her game.

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