Sunday, September 3, 2017

Alexander Khokhlachev Jersey Card

Continuing with this month's theme, here's a Boston Bruins-related post, after I predicted they'd finish sixth in the Atlantic Division this season. Today, I thought I'd focus on a highly-touted prospect who came to the OHL's Windsor Spitfires from Russia to get acquainted with the smaller ice size, was drafted in the second round by Boston (40th overall in 2011), showed some promise in the AHL with the Providence Bruins but lost patience with the team when he felt head coach Claude Julien didn't give him a fair chance and went back to the KHL.; that's right, we're taking a look at Alexander Khokhlachev!

Khokhlachev has become a master at the offensive side of the game. He is a slick puck carrier who can both protect the puck well with his low center of gravity (5'10", 180 pounds) and make moves to distance his checkers, and has a creative offensive sense that ranks in the top 10% in the world; on one hand, he can make nearly-impossible passes and, on the other, he can find the open ice to be in a position to receive passes himself like the best of the elite players, and he has a tremendous release as well.

He's willing to sacrifice his body to make a play - as long as said play is in the offensive zone. That's where his issues lie; he has concentrated so much on making his o-zone play top-notch that he forgot to learn the basics of playing defensively. His backwards skating is deficient, his man-to-man coverage is null unless he hits the body and his zone coverage is akin to that of a pylon.

Young, creative, smallish, bad defensively. And he wonders why Julien wouldn't give him a chance?

There are players like him who have had fine NHL careers; Thomas Vanek comes to mind, except Khokhlachev may be even better with the puck... and worse defensively. (Vanek could play defensively, he just doesn't want to).

In two yeas in Providence, he has led the team in points both times, appearing in one AHL All-Star Game. Signing in the KHL, he first went to powerhouse St. Petersburg SKA, where he had little ice time behind the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Vadim Shipachyov, Nikita Gusev, Evgeny Dadonov, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin's buddy Sergei Plotnikov, meaning he also didn't get to play with the likes of Slava Voynov, Anton Belov and Igor Yakovlev on the back end; his production was thus limited to 10 points (5 goals and 5 assists) in 25 games. He did win the Gagarin Cup with the rest of the team, though.

He was then traded to his original KHL team, Moscow Spartak, (where his father is the general manager) a few weeks ago, and he is showing extremely well there, with 5 points in 8 games so far and generally leading the play alongside Ben Maxwell.

Here he is sporting the Bs' black (home) uniform, on the "gold" variant of the "Jersey" insert version of card #132 from Upper Deck's 2014-15 SP Game-Used Edition:
It features a matching jersey swatch from a rookie photo shoot and is numbered 214/499.

He has silver (2012) and bronze (2013) medals suiting up for Team Russia at the World Juniors; it remains to be seen if he'll make the Olympic squad this year, but I figure he'd be a good sleeper pick on it.

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