|Rank||Player||Change from '13||M. Leonard||Cornelius||Nolan||Dan||Giesse||Sean||Sarah||Kristian||Servo|
Vitals: 5'10", 172 lbs.
Acquired: 2011 draft, second round (40th overall)
Experience: 1 GP (2014)
FIRST OF ALL
There is a pair of KH's in Khokhlachev. Not Koklakov or Khoklacovsdo...Russian names are hard, but you have to learn it.
Alexander Khokhlachev is an exciting prospect. He's got a high offensive upside, plays an uptempo game and is the Bruins' biggest Russia prospect since Sergei Samsonov. He-Who-Was-Almost-Traded-For-Jarome-Iginla had himself quite a pro season last year, tearing it up in the AHL and making his NHL debut late in the season against New Jersey.
Khokhlachev was nearly a point-per-game guy in the regular season, netting 21 goals and 36 assists in 65 games. In the playoffs, he was better than a point-per-game guy, scoring nine goals and adding 5 assists in 12 games. Overall, he recorded a line of 30/41/71 in 77 games. Not bad for a guy in his first full North American pro season.
I saw Khokhlachev play in person once, during Providence's 9-3 shelling of Adirondack earlier this year. Khokhlachev played with Seth Griffith and Jared Knight. Khokhlachev and Griffith were electric, each recording five points on the evening (with Griffith scoring four goals). The pair was expected to challenge for a spot in training camp; as of this writing, only Khokhlachev remains.
Calgary wanted the kid in the failed Jarome Iginla deal of 2013, and it's easy to see why: Hockey's Future describes Khokhlachev as a "slick puck carrier, creative passer and courageous goal scorer." Prospect king Kirk Luedeke had him at number three on his list of top North American Bruin prospects.
Alex Khokhlacehv,C PRO (AHL) 5-10, 187; Rd 2, 40- 2011 Up: Ultra-skilled w/ sublime hands/creativity;exploded in 2nd half last yr; exuberant— Kirk Luedeke (@kluedeke29) September 11, 2014
Down: Average size, strength; skating improved, but not as dynamic, explosive as others of his stature; consistency a work in progress— Kirk Luedeke (@kluedeke29) September 11, 2014
Projection: Top-2 line scoring forward in NHL; will likely need to convert away from center position given BOS depth, but fan fave for skill— Kirk Luedeke (@kluedeke29) September 11, 2014
I asked Kirk recently if he thought Khokhlachev was ready to make the jump and he said no, citing his defense as a primary reason, but adding that he may be a fill-in/call-up down the line.
Khokhlachev has survived two rounds of cuts, having himself a decent camp so far. At times, he's looked like he needs more seasoning in Providence; at times, he's been great.
There's little (if any) room at center for Khokhlachev in Boston, so he's going to have to switch to wing at some point. He could be a potential candidate for third line wing, though he's a left shot. He's a dangerous offensive player, which the Bruins need; however, he's also prone to defensive lapses (and prone to the "lazy Russians" confirmation bias that seems rampant around the hockey world). As we saw with Ryan Spooner, Claude Julien thinks offensive upside is a waste if defensive traits aren't there.
In all likelihood, Khokhlachev will be among the last skaters cut or will find himself in a bottom-6 role on this year's Bruins team. If he's sent down, he'll be among the first call-ups in case of injury; if he stays, he'll probably play sheltered minutes until he can prove his defensive mettle to Julien.
The Muscovite has proven his worth in the OHL, AHL and at the World Junior Championships. Here's to hoping 2014-2015 is the year he proves his worth at the NHL level.