When you’re talking Bruins prospects, one of the hottest names that surfaces over and over again is Alexander Khokhlachev, the 21-year-old center out of Moscow, Russia. Three years after being drafted by Boston, Khokhlachev is finally under consideration for a roster spot with the Bruins. The question is, does he have what it takes?
For starters, we’ll take a look back into Khokhlachev’s history, both with and before the Bruins. Khokhlachev came over from Russian juniors to North America for the 2010-2011 season, when he played or the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). After a tremendous season with the Spitfires (34 goals and 42 assists in 67 games), Khokhlachev was drafted by the Bruins in the second round (40th overall).
After being drafted by the Bruins, Khokhlachev followed up next season with an equally impressive record, tallying 69 points in 56 games. From there, the 5-foot 11-inch center saw time in both the OHL, the KHL, and the AHL in the 2012-2013 season. With the Baby Bruins, Khokhlachev notched 3 points in eleven games that season.
However, Khokhlachev made Providence his full-time home last season with the Bruins, and had a break-out season with Boston’s AHL affiliate. In 65 games with the Providence Bruins, Khokhlachev put up 57 points (21 goals, 36 assists), and became an All-Star as Providence’s leading scorer. He’s also played in 4 NHL games with the Bruins over the past two seasons, but has yet to record a point.
However, with the massive shake-up of the Bruins roster this off-season, the fourth line center position is up for grabs, and some speculate that Khokhlachev may have a shot at the spot.
Khokhlachev’s draw clearly comes from his offensive game. The fact of the matter is, the kid has got natural offensive ability, and works extremely well in the offensive zone. However, there are some questions regarding his defensive game, which is certainly an issue for a defensively-minded coach like Claude Julien.
My good friend Cam Kerry summed up Khokhlachev pretty well in an earlier piece:
With hands that are softer than a baby’s bottom, Khokhlachev has the potential to be an offensive wizard in the future. Very dynamic in the offensive zone, he could use work defensively and get bigger so that he can win battles against larger opponents.
Obviously, Khokhlachev’s biggest issue is defense. Some other teams across the league may not have paid as much attention his defensive weakness, however, Claude Julien’s Bruins have been known to play a defense-first style of hockey, and nobody knows for sure whether or not Khokhlachev can handle that at the moment. However, if the Russian center can impress at training camp, who’s to say that the B’s won’t give him a shot up the middle, especially given the fact that Boston lost a strong portion of its offensive production in Milan Lucic and Carl Soderberg alone?
Should the Bruins give Khokhlachev a shot? Let us know what you think!
Cam is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. He’s the Boston Bruins Beat Writer at The Hockey Writers, and is an avid college hockey fan. Find him on Twitter @CamHasbrouck!