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Alexei Toropchenko’s long road to his first NHL goal

The 22-year-old forward recorded his first NHL goal Saturday afternoon.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Columbus Blue Jackets Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports

In a 5-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday afternoon, 22-year-old St. Louis Blues rookie forward Alexei Toropchenko scored his first NHL goal.

Official Box Score of Toropchenko’s goal:

Alexei Toropchenko (1) Assists: Faulk (21) Perron (19)

13:43 2nd

STL 2 CBJ 3

The native of Moscow, Russia, comes from a hockey family as his father Leonid, who tragically passed away in May 2017 of a heart attack, was drafted 260th overall in 1993 by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The elder Toropchenko played 14 seasons of professional hockey between North America and Russia.

Toropchenko grew up playing for Dynamo Moscow’s U16 and U17 programs before joining HK MVD Balashikha of the MHL where he served as an alternate captain.

Toropchenko was then drafted fourth overall by the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2017 CHL Import Draft and made his OHL debut on September 22, 2017, against the Sarnia Sting where he also recorded his first OHL goal and assist. He finished the 2017-18 season with 17 goals and 22 assists in 66 games played.

In his second season with the Storm, (2018-19) Toropchenko had 17 goals and 26 assists in 62 games played while helping to lead the Storm to their fourth J. Ross Robertson Cup, the OHL’s equivalent of the Stanley Cup.

During the 2018-19 season, on December 13, 2018, the Blues signed Toropchenko to a three-year entry-level contract but Toropchenko had already made his professional hockey debut eight months prior on April 13, 2018, with the Blues American Hockey League affiliate at the time, the San Antonio Rampage.

After aging out of the OHL [Players are allowed to compete in the CHL until they are 20 years old.] Toropchenko transitioned to the AHL full-time and scored his first AHL goal on November 1, 2019, against the Texas Stars.

Toropchenko’s first season in the AHL ended with him registering nine points (5 goals and 4 assists) in 59 games played.

On September 29, 2020, Toropchenko headed to Kunlun Red Star of the Kontinental Hockey League for the 2020-21 KHL season as the AHL was shut down at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Toropchenko made his KHL debut on October 4, 2020, and scored his first KHL goal a couple of weeks later on October 19. Then, on October 25, Toropchenko made Kunlun Red Star history by scoring the fastest goal in team history when he scored 34 seconds into the first period of Kunlun’s game against HC CSKA Moscow.

At the end of the KHL season, Toropchenko returned to the AHL for this season.

After the Blues had a COVID outbreak in early December, Toropchenko received his first NHL call-up and made his NHL debut the same night against the Dallas Stars.

Besides the ability to bring offense to the Blues’ fourth line, Toropchenko also brings a physical presence, and with his 6’6” 222lb frame also makes an excellent screen for the opposing team’s goaltender.

In just 11 games with the Blues this season, Toropchenko is working to show why he deserves a full-time spot on the Blues roster for the remainder of this season and beyond.