Former Victoria Grizzlies star Alex Newhook has won the Stanley Cup at just 21 years of age. Newhook’s Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in 6 games on Sunday, ending the Lightning’s bid at the first threepeat since the New York Islanders back in the 80s.
The St. John’s, Newfoundland native has seemingly travelled all over North America on his way to the summit of hockey. He ripped up bantam level hockey in Newfoundland and, needing a bigger challenge, played for an Ontario junior team and led them in scoring the following year.
After deciding he did not want to play Major Junior hockey and preferring to go to college, Newhook made the long journey out west to join the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). He was an instant success, wowing teammates and scouts alike with top-tier skating, quick hands, and an engine that doesn’t quit.
After scoring the 3rd most points per game by a 16 year old in the BCHL since 2000, he would give Grizzlies fans quite the encore as he went on on to win the league scoring race and MVP award while captaining the Grizzlies as a 17 year old. He scored 102 points in just 53 games that year, the most points by an NHL draft eligible player in Victoria Grizzlies history – and 4th highest in the BCHL since the turn of the millenium.
The Colorado Avalanche were enticed by his blend of speed, skill, tenacity, and hockey sense, and selected the Grizzlies star 16th overall in the 2019 NHL draft, making him the highest drafted player out of a Victoria based team since Joel Savage went 13th overall way back in 1988 from the WHL’s former Victoria Cougars.
With his Junior A career wrapped up and the Avalanche now firmly invested in his future, it was time for Newhook to head south of the border and join Boston College. Many future NHLers take a season or two of college puck to find their groove, but not Newhook. He scored 42 points in 34 games for Boston College as a freshman in 2019 en route to winning Rookie of the Year and a Conference Championship.
His final chapter with Boston College would be cut short by the pandemic in 2020, but Newhook would also suit up for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship, playing with a dominant team that ultimately suffered heart break in the final, earning a silver medal after a 2-0 loss to USA.
By the end of his collegiate season, the Avalanche had seen enough and signed him to his entry level contract.
Newhook would get his feet wet with their minor team, the Colorado Eagles for 18 games before the Avs ultimately decided he was ready for the show.
And the 5’11 spark plug delivered. Newhook scored 33 points in 71 games this past season, good for 12th in the league among rookies, and 10th on his team. It’s an excellent floor for a 21 year old forward to establish, and surely as he gets stronger and more acclimatised to the demands of the best league on earth, he will continue to improve and become a quality top-six forward for the Avalanche.
Newhook would struggle to crack the deep Avalanche lineup early in the playoffs after General Manager Joe Sakic added some veteran depth at the trade deadline. But he suited up for two games during Colorado’s 2nd round matchup against the Blues, and head coach Jared Bednar etched his name on the lineup sheet for the rest of the playoffs. He ended up playing in 12 playoff games – including a 2 assist night in game 2 of the finals – on his way to raising (and giving a big ol’ smooch to) Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Really, Newhook’s timing to join Colorado could not have been better.
The Avalanche struggled as a whole throughout the 2010s, bottoming out to select captain Gabriel Landeskog 2nd in 2011, franchise center Nathan MacKinnon 1st in 2013 and Mikko Rantanen 10th in 2015. They endured one of the worst seasons of the salary cap era in 2017 en route to selecting Cale Makar 4th overall, and thus the core which Newhook has so timely joined was set.
It’s a loaded core, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Newhook back in the finals over the coming years.
As is often the case with Stanley Cup champions, however, the Avs may struggle to keep all of their current talent on board given the NHL’s salary cap constraints. Second line center Nazem Kadri is an unrestricted free agent and due for a sizable raise, which would leave a large hole at center that Newhook – in theory – could be capable of filling.
Regardless, his opportunity to play for a contender and see if he can hold the 2nd line center role should be fun to watch next year.
Congrats to Alex!