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Author: Yevgeniy (Eugene) BelashchenkoDate: 06/03/2002
Alexei Stonkus Exclusive Interview

Alexei Stonkus is a promising offensive defenseman.  He is one of several available out of Yaroslavl at the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, joining Denis Grebeshkov and Denis Grot.   He is a member of the Russian ’84 Junior Team and spent most of the last season with Elemash Elektrostal, on loan from Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.   RussianProspects and HF writer Eugene Belashchenko caught up with Denis, while he was visiting Toronto for the pre-draft physical examinations and NHL team interviews.

 

Alexei, how are you?

Everything is good.

 

First of all, can you tell me where you were born, how you started to play hockey?

I was born in Yaroslavl.  My father took me to play hockey.   

 

Who influenced your development as a hockey player the most?

My father, he took me to hockey from my childhood. 

  

How would you describe your style of play to those who are not familiar with you?

Well, I am an attacking defenseman.

 

In what characteristics of your game do you feel you need to work on the most?

I need to work on every aspect of the game – but most of all on my passing. 

 

You spend most of the past season with Elemash.  Did you set any goals at the beginning of the season?  Do you believe that you achieved those goals?

Well, I started the season of with Yaroslavl’s second team.  There I had goals to move up.  When I was transferred there [to Elemash – EB] the goals changed to play better with the guys and go to the World Championships [U18 – EB].

 

In April you did play at the World Championships.  It seemed you guys did play well together, since you finished the tournament " silver" .  So, you guys had success everywhere, except for the last game.  What were impressions regarding the tournament? How did you play there?

My level of play was a bit worse then it was in Tyumen [5 Nations Tournament in Tyumen].  But, besides that, everything was great except for the last game, of course.

 

What were your impressions regarding the last game?

Well, we simply weren’t prepared for the game.

 

What was your role on the ’84 national squad? Did you get a lot of minutes on the power play, short handed?

I did not play often on the power play.  I played more on defense, -- short handed.  I played with Shinin, and we played well together. 

 

This year you were invited to the annual NHL draft which this year is held in Toronto. The Central Scouting Bureau ranks you 29th amongst European skaters – which gives you a very solid chance to get drafted very high in the draft.  What are your feelings regarding this? Do you feel the pressure of the upcoming draft?

No, nothing really.

 

Currently you are undergoing pre-draft preparations where you have to take various physical tests? Do you have any impressions regarding them? Is there a difference between those what you are doing in Toronto and what you usually did in Elemash?

Of course, I would say very significant differences.  Things weren’t like this in Elemash. 

 

What did you while with Elemash that differed from this?

Well, in Elemash we mainly exercised to stay in shape, -- here it seems the more the better. 

 

Is this your first visit to Toronto?

Yes

 

I understand you guys went to Toronto Maple Leafs game against Carolina.  What did you think? Do you think there are any differences between the NHL and hockey in Russia?

The game here is definitely faster, more physical.   Besides that, it is also made into a great show.

 

What are your plans for next year?

To make Yaroslavl’s main squad.

 - Eugene Belashchenko


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