2022 CBJ Top 25 Under 25: Alexandre Texier, interrupted
The French forward will be absent from the 2022-23 season
Thanks to everyone who voted for this year’s Top 25 Under 25 ranking. We had almost 100 submissions from Columbus Blue Jackets fans. Stay tuned as we enter the home stretch with the top 10 players. Now, 7th-ranked Alexandre Texier.
#8 Alexandre Texier
7th out of 40 eligible players
Writer Rank: 7
Reader Rank: 6
Highest placement: 2 (6 votes)
Most common placement: 7 (15 votes)
2021 Rank: 6
Birthdate: September 13, 1999
Birthplace: Grenoble, France
Weight: 186 lbs.
Acquired: Drafted 45th overall (2nd round) in the 2017 Entry Draft
Alexandre Texier’s NHL career has been a cycle of extreme highs and lows. As a 19 year old, he came to North America in spring of 2019 and earned a spot on the roster for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He scored two goals in the Game 4 win against Tampa. His first full season was shortened by injury, but he was healthy for the bubble playoffs and contributed four assists in 10 games as he clicked on the top line with Pierre-Luc Dubois.
He played most of the 2021 season, but scored a disappointing 15 points (4/11) in 49 games. With no center standing out in preseason last fall, Texier earned the 1C spot by default. He scored the team’s first goal of the season, just 40 seconds in. Unfortunately that was one of just two points in the first month of the season, and he was demoted from first line center to fourth line wing.
In that role, however, Texier began to thrive. He put up 4/3/7 in 12 games in November. For the season, he put up career highs in goals (11) and points (20) in just 36 games, despite 72.4% of 5v5 faceoffs occurring in the defensive zone. He was also a top penalty killer. I wrote this in my November recap, as I named him second star of the month:
Texier was invisible for most of October, much like he had been for most of the 2021 season. He went from being the top line center on opening night to being a fourth line winger. Once demoted, however, his offensive game took off. He had four goals and three assists in 12 games in November, and had earned a promotion to higher line. Is he a center or winger? Middle six or bottom six? Or is he just a Swiss Army Knife (French Army Knife?) forward who can be placed on any line after the other 11 spots have been filled?
Texier suffered a finger injury against Calgary on January 26. Initially this was supposed to be a 4-6 week recovery, but multiple family members passed away and he was granted leave to return home to France to rehab. He had been granted similar leave while recovering from a back injury in 2020. This time, however, the leave extended well beyond when the physical injury would have healed.
Last week, the Blue Jackets announced that Texier would not be joining the team for the 2022-23 season. He is officially suspended, so his contract comes off the cap and slides to 2023-24. An agreement was reached which will allow him to compete for ZSC Lions, a Zurich-based team in the top Swiss league. This is a top team in one of the better European pro leagues, so Texier can continue to develop. It’s also a four hour drive from his home in Grenoble, so he stays much closer to his family.
The news is disappointing for the Columbus fan, because Texier is a useful player and would help the team. He is one of the few forwards on the roster who you could trust in the defensive zone, and he could still score from that position. He is also capable of playing up in the lineup, or shift over to center. It’s tough to lose that versatility. This article from last week looks at some of the internal options to replace him in the lineup.
On the positive side, it is a refreshing change of pace to see a team taking mental health seriously. Taking a hard line stance would not help anyone here. We don’t know the full extent of Texier’s struggles, but if it’s grief over his departed family members, it’s understandable that this step could be necessary. Grief doesn’t operate on a set timeline, and it doesn’t progress in an orderly way, either. We’ve also seen several examples of players demonstrating a desire to be closer to family. I’m sure the pandemic has played a part in this, as it is harder to be with family due to travel restrictions. Gregory Hofmann returned to Switzerland for the birth of his child, and opted not to leave again. Johnny Gaudreau left Calgary to a team in the Eastern US closer to his family in southern New Jersey. A player that has his mind worried about other things is a player that isn’t focused on the game. A player that is comfortable in his private life can be free to devote more energy to his hockey game.
For now, the priority is for Texier to do what is best for him and his loved ones. I hope they can continue to heal. I also hope that Texier can find comfort in playing the sport he loves. He scored five points (3/2) in seven games for France at the World Championships this May.
I hope Texier can make it back to Columbus to resume his NHL career. If not, I’ll remember the high points, but regret that they didn’t last longer.