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Alec Regula: 2018 NHL Draft Prospect Profile; A Large, Mobile Defenseman With Upside

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Alec Regula is a tall, slim defenseman who can move the puck and contribute offensively. His defensive game could come around as he continues to gain experience and fill out his frame. If available, could he make sense for the Devils in the middle of the draft?

CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game
Alec Regula #7 of Team Chelios during the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game against Team Leetch at the KeyBank Center on September 21, 2017 in Buffalo, New York.
Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

We continue our 2018 NHL Draft coverage today by profiling Alec Regula, a talented American defenseman coming off of a strong rookie season for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League. Regula is a rising prospect that came into his own as the season went on and could hear his name called in the draft in the middle rounds. Let’s get to know Alec Regula a bit more.

Who is Alec Regula?

Alec Regula was born on August 6, 2000 thus making him 17 years old at the time of the draft. According to his OHL page, he is a 6’4, 190 lbs. right handed defenseman from West Bloomfield, Michigan. As his EliteProspects page notes, he played his bantam hockey with the well-known Honeybaked and Compuware programs from 2013-15. It is notable that his time with Compuware in the 2014-15 season was short as he decided to go against the grain for legitimate prospects by opting to play prep hockey over midget hockey. He spent 2 seasons from 2014-16 playing for Cranbrook-Kingswood Upper School, a prep school located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Neutral Zone has this quote from Regula about why he made that decision:

“I wasn’t a top guy in AAA and playing against older kids would help me develop greatly. Plus, I was able to join my brother for the past two years, which has been a blessing and an experience I’ll never forget. I made some friendships that will last a lifetime and it aided my development in a huge way. I came out of high school a much better player.”

His strong performance in prep hockey would help him get drafted by the Chicago Steel of the USHL at 22nd overall in the 2016 Futures Draft as well as 74th overall by the London Knights of the OHL in the 2016 Priority Selection Draft. He would spend his pre-draft season in 2016-17 playing for the Chicago where he put up a goal, 4 assists, 8 PIM, and a +6 rating in 53 regular season games. He became a USHL Clark Cup Champion that season with an assist, 0 PIM, and +4 rating in 5 playoff games. After opting against playing for the Michigan Wolverines, he would spend his 2017-18 season with the London Knights where he put up 7 goals, 18 assists, 22 PIM, and a +23 rating in 67 regular season games. He was held scoreless with 2 PIM, and a -1 rating in 4 playoff games as London exited early. He was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team. Regula hasn’t represented the US at the international level yet, which isn’t surprising since his development hasn’t taken off until more recently. He’ll certainly have opportunities to earn that honor over the next few seasons if he can keep improving his game.

Where is Alec Regula Ranked?

Above are the latest, publicly available rankings for Alec Regula. The Draft Analyst Final rankings should be out very soon so be sure to check that website. I found it interesting that NHL Central Scouting has actually dropped Regula 29 spots while he’s been a steady riser on the Future Consideartions board. There he went from a non-top 100 prospect to cracking the top 75 in the winter, falling a bit in the spring, and finishing at 67. Craig Button clearly rates Regula as a 3rd round talent as opposed to The Draft Analyst who doesn’t seem too high on the prospect.

What Others Say About Alec Regula

First, let’s read what OHL Prospects guru Brock Otten had to say about Regula from two separate posts back in December. In his Sunday Top 10 - Under the Radar Draft Eligibles for 2018, Otten had this to say about Regula:

Regula is an OHL rookie who is really gaining steam in the scouting community. He played a depth role for a really strong USHL team last year in Chicago (who won the Clark Cup) and is really starting to look comfortable in the OHL the last month or so. He’s now playing a ton for the Knights, suiting up alongside Evan Bouchard on the top pairing. Regula has a lot going for him. He’s 6’4 and moves very well. He’s got excellent acceleration and is gaining confidence in using this to lead the rush. There have a been a couple times lately where I mistook him for Bouchard. Regula also shows well defensively and is a solid stick defender who seems to really process the game well. His positioning and reads are really improving. Lastly, he’s one of the youngest players available this year. Don’t be surprised if this guy is one of the top 5 OHL defenders taken in June. Great potential at both ends.

The first thing that stands out to me is that Regula seemed to transition nicely from depth defenseman in the USHL to a solid OHL player as a rookie. That is no easy task and it seems that he was able to do it within a half season. I also like reading that he’s mobile and his acceleration is a plus as it’s absolutely crucial for defenders in today’s game. Next, here is what Otten wrote about Regula in his Midseason Top 50 for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft:

This guy is a legitimate NHL prospect. Has emerged to become the Knights’ 2nd best defender behind Evan Bouchard and looks to be just hitting the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he’s capable of doing. He’s 6’4, 190lbs, but also one of the youngest players available this year (could he possibly grow more?). And he possesses excellent mobility, gliding up ice with ease. He’s been starting to explore his ability to lead the rush and has looked pretty good doing it. Defensively, he’s definitely raw. Makes some questionable reads. But also makes some great plays by using his mobility to keep forwards wide or break-up plays. Would like to see him use his size more to be physical, especially in the corners, but that could come. As I said, this guy is very raw. But you’d be blind to ignore the potential that he’s demonstrating in his first OHL season.

It seems that Regula is still growing into his frame and will need some time to figure out how to use it to his advantage. While his defensive game still needs work it seems like Regula has the potential to develop into a really solid two-way defenseman at the pro level.

Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News had this article on The Top 20 Players at the All-American Prospects Game back in September. Here is what he wrote about Regula:

There’s a lot to like about Regula, who recently signed with the Knights. Most obvious, there’s the 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, but he’s also a great puckhandler on the back end. He got burned badly on one goal, but there’s time to work out those kinks.

Finally, here is what Grant McCagg had to say in a free article on Recrutes back in November:

Regula was highly-regarded by a lot of US-based scouts going into the season after a solid campaign as a 16-year-old in the USHL, but after his first month in the OHL a lot of Ontario-based scouts were wondering what all of the hype was about as he struggled to make an impact. He is and will be a big, fairly mobile defensive defenceman who will log big minutes in a shutdown role. He’s cut down on the defensive errors and adjusted to the step up in quality in the OHL. He may get a long look from teams by the middle point of the second round.

Obviously Regula hadn’t fully adapted to the OHL thus the less than glowing comment about what the Ontario based scouts thought about him. Still, it’s encouraging to read that McCagg felt he could have the potential of a second round talent.

A Little Video

The first video we have of Regula is an ISO Video courtesy of Ross Hockey Scouting on YouTube. It’s from February 12, 2016 when he was still playing prep hockey for Cranbrook-Kingswood High School so it doesn’t capture his most recent development. Still, it does give an extended look at the big, mobile defender. Around 2:28 you can see the start of the play where he earns an assist on the PP by joining in the attack on a zone entry at 2:54 and centering a puck for his teammate to tip past the goaltender. His defensive game isn’t the strongest in the video, but I can confidently say from watching a few London Knights games this season that it has improved.

The next video are highlights from a game between the London Knights and Saginaw Spirit on November 3, 2017. Regula had a goal and an assist in the match as London fell 6-5 in overtime. Skip to the 1:00 mark to see his assist on an Evan Bouchard goal. You can see his first career OHL goal at the 1:27 mark.

An Opinion of Sorts

When I first saw London play last season, I was excited to see Evan Bouchard. While Bouchard is a more talented prospect, I was pleasantly surprised to see Alec Regula grab my attention with his strong two-way play. He’s not as offensively skilled or flashy as his teammate, but Regula still contributed offensively. He was able to move his large frame up and down the ice efficiently, make smart passes out of his zone and in the offensive zone, and occasionally use his heavy slapshot to get pucks towards the front of the net. I do think there is a higher level to his offensive game that he hasn’t reached yet which makes him an interesting prospect.

Defensively he is still very raw and unable to maximize his size advantage along the boards on a consistent basis. He’s also prone to being beat on zone entries by slick skating forwards that get him to commit one way as they go around the opposite. He is able to use his stick work to break up plays and frustrate opposing players. Also, his positioning and vision have been steadily improving since joining London. He is very much a work in process but he has the potential to turn into a shutdown defender.

Overall, I came away impressed with my viewings of Regula. He’s far from a finished product but there is plenty of time for him to keep developing the tools he needs to reach that higher level in both ends of the rink. Glancing over Scouching’s 2018 Public Prospect Tracker it’s clear to see that while not being a huge point producer himself, London did better with him on the ice than off of it. That seems right in line with what I saw over the couple of games I saw him play. I also thought it was notable that he finished 25th among 1st time eligible CHL defensemen in Jeremy Crowe’s rankings with a 7.1% success percentage. That may seem low, but if you can get that in the 4th round then it’s solid value.

With all that said, I would be very happy if he dropped to the Devils pick in the 4th round and they selected him. I view him more as a 3rd round talent but wouldn’t be surprised if he was all over the place among the NHL draftboards with some teams seeing him as a 2nd round talent while others see him as a 4th/5th round talent. Regardless, whoever drafts Regula should feel good about the pick as he has some nice upside.

Your Take

What are your thoughts on Alec Regula as a prospect? Do you think he will be available when the Devils select in the 4th round? Would you want the Devils to draft him if he was still available? Are there any parts of his game that stand out to you in a positive or negative way? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!