Boston Bruins: Khokhlachev Wants To Play in NHL Not KHL


Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins have a very big problem, but it’s a problem that most teams would be envious of. One of the best prospects in the Bruins system, Alexander Khokhlachev, wants to be an NHL player and believes he’s NHL ready. That in itself isn’t quite the problem, however. Due to the fact that the Bruins have such a deep lineup down the middle of the ice with players like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner, and even Chris Kelly and Max Talbot, who are both capable of logging effective bottom-six minutes, it is almost impossible to fit Alexander Khokhlachev into the lineup at center.

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  • One solution that might seem obvious is to try and play Khokhlachev at the wing, and while that seems easy enough, there are a few factors to consider. The first and most important is whether or not Khokhlachev wants to play on the wing, and if he’d be as effective there. Bruins fans might remember Carl Soderberg being decent when player on the left wing during the beginning of his tenure with the Bruins, but once he was provided the opportunity to skate at center, his ability truly became apparent. The second factor, which is almost as important as the first factor, is the fact that the Bruins are pretty deep at the wing positions as well. As it stands, the top-nine wing positions being filled with the following players: Brad Marchand, Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Loui Eriksson, David Pastrnak, and Brett Connolly. Bumping any of those players down to a fourth line role seems counter-productive, and playing Khokhlachev on the wing on the fourth line also seems like a waste of talent.

    Trades are as common as icing in the NHL it seems, and the Bruins could look to clear up some room for Khokhlachev that way, or trade Khokhlachev himself. Players like Dustin Byfuglien would require at least a top prospect, a first round draft pick, and a roster player, similarly to the Milan Lucic trade. Khokhlachev could be enticing as a top prospect there, but the Bruins may not be willing to let go of “Koko” just yet.

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    One of the rumors that has been popping up as a result of Khokhlachev recently making comments saying, “I will not play in Providence all my life” was that Khokhlachev would be leaving for the KHL. His rights are currently held by the SKA St. Petersburg team in the KHL, but Bruins fans and management shouldn’t worry too much about that, at least not according to his agent Alexei Dementiev. “At the present time Alexander Khokhlachev is at the Bosotn Bruins training camp, has one more year (on his) NHL deal and does his best to be the Bruin,” Dementiev said to, per Joe Haggerty. “In this circumstance we can’t and we don’t talk to SKA St. Petersburg, the KHL team, who has his rights in Russia.” Dementiev went on to say: “Regarding Alexander’s interview several days ago, all I can say that we really want hockey people to hear how much he wants to be an NHL player and nothing about complaints or other innuendo – just a simple statement of facts.”

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    Alexander Khokhlachev will have to show that he’s more than capable of stealing an NHL job over the remainder of the preseason, something he’s been unable to do thus far. Over the first two preseason games that Khokhlachev played in, he was virtually non-existent offensively, and his faceoff numbers were poor to say the least. Losing 13 of the 16 draws he took, Khokhlachev will have to improve on that facet of his game if he wants to be an everyday player in the NHL on any team, especially the Bruins under Claude Julien. There were signs of improvement Saturday when Khokhlachev assisted on Torey Krug‘s powerplay goal along with David Pastrnak to give the Bruins their game-winner in overtime to beat the Red Wings 4-3. Khokhlachev can be something special in the NHL, and Bruins fans will hope they get to see him suit up in black and gold to realize his potential, and not elsewhere.

    Follow Brandon Share-Cohen on Twitter @BShareCohen to discuss all things Bruins and sports