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|13 сентября 2006
Stint in Russia gave Alexeev strength // St.Peterburgh Times
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
BRANDON - Nikita Alexeev certainly doesn't lack confidence.
Ask him what he expects of himself this season and the wing is blunt.
"To light it up," he said. "This is a big opportunity. I'm going to take it."
Quite a statement from a player who in 81 NHL games has just eight goals and 14 points and is minus-15.
But Alexeev spent last season playing for Avangard Omsk in his native Russia and said the experience made him a better player.
For starters, Alexeev said, he learned to get his shot more consistently on net. He also learned to "attack" the net, meaning he's ready to go into the dangerous areas in front.
"It reminded me of how hungry I was," Alexeev said of his time in Russia. "It brought back memories from when I was first coming up, and it made me remember the feelings and responsibility."
The Lightning has been waiting for Alexeev, 24, since making him the No. 8 overall pick of the 2000 draft.
He had four goals in 44 games in 2001-02. He scored another four in 37 games in 2002-03, and scored once in 11 playoff games.
But questions about work ethic, consistency, plus a lack of production even in the minors - he has just 25 goals and 49 points in 157 American Hockey League games - held him back.
"It's all past," said Alexeev, who signed a one-year $450,000 contract. "This is a new beginning for me."
One thing that hasn't changed is Alexeev's chiseled physique. He is listed as 6 feet 5 but said he believes he grew an inch in Russia and is 230 pounds.
"I got thicker and stronger," Alexeev said. "I can dominate. I can dominate every year."