Over the course of the season, rookie Alexandre Texier has continued to develop and build on his strong impression last spring. Among players who have appeared ten or more times for the team this year, Texier ranks:
Twelfth on the team in points
Ninth on the team in goals
Seventh on the team in even strength goals
Third on the team in shooting percentage
He has achieved these stats despite missing several games due to an injury earlier this season. Texier, now the rookie hope for this team, is being asked to shoulder a greater responsibility. Here is head coach John Tortorella on his next steps:
#CBJ Alexander Wennberg is back in the lineup vs. #ALLCAPS, but only because of an injury to Emil Bemstrom. He’s lost his spot at center. Coach John Tortorella is clearly fed up with Wennberg, who hasn’t scored (0-4-4) in his last 19 games. This is Tortorella from this morning: pic.twitter.com/ieQI0lR8oU— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) December 9, 2019
It is no secret that Alexander Wennberg has struggled this season. Despite his play on Monday night, John Tortorella appears to have lost faith in the struggling Wennberg. With Boone Jenner having shown some ability to play the position and Riley Nash having the fourth line role on lockdown, Torts has decided that Texier is going to be the future of the team at center, developing the rookie into the role.
There is precedent for this working for the Blue Jackets. Boone Jenner, prior to last year, played limited minutes at center at the NHL level. Since moving to center in mostly full time duty, Jenner has developed into a serviceable player at the position.
Texier, younger and more fleet of foot, could prove to be an evolutionary version of Jenner. Jenner, it is no secret, is not the most fleet of foot nor is he the world’s greatest playmaker. Jenner is, however, defensively responsible and solid in the faceoff circle. These are two areas any young player, particularly one making the transition to the most important position on the ice, could use support and mentoring with. Jenner, having made the transition successfully, could be an invaluable resource to Texier as he grows into a new position in the NHL.
Really like Texier’s work behind the goal here. Instinct to go there, brings a defender with him, takes away Holtby’s eyes, sets up the play. pic.twitter.com/Swjx0dAyAL— Alison (@AlisonL) December 10, 2019
In the clip above, Texier shows patience and a playmaking ability to let plays and passing lanes develop before setting up the pass that leads to Cam Atkinson’s opening goal against the Washington Capitals. This is a play few on the Blue Jackets have proven themselves capable of making and Texier is doing this before he turns 21.
The Jackets have a chance to develop Texier into a top six center for the future. It will not be an overnight process, and will require patience from both coaching staff and player as they work through the inevitable struggles - restricting minutes as Texier eventually struggles is not good for this development. Let Texier play through and learn as he goes. The struggles might suck now, but they will pay off in the future.
Texier’s role is defined and clear. Jackets fans now have something to pay attention down the stretch of the season.