BostonBruins.com — In June, when BostonBruins.com last checked in with Alexander Khokhlachev at Boston Bruins Development Camp, the forward stood in the B’s locker room at Ristuccia Memorial Arena and told the gathered hockey press that he was excited to report to the KHL in the fall.
“It’s the second best league in the world to the NHL,” said the prospect, who had just penned a deal with the B’s organization. “I think this will be good, and [I’m] really happy right now.
“[It’s] exciting to sign with Boston and to be ready coming back next year and try to make the team.”
Thanks to a special family situation with Alex’s dad, Igor, serving as the general manager of Spartak Moscow in the KHL, the Bruins were happy to allow the forward to head home to Russia to begin his professional career.
“What we decided with ‘Koko’ was that it’s a unique set of circumstances with his dad being the manager there, saying, ‘Look it’s one year and then back to North America,’” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli during Dev Camp. “He felt it was right for him and at the end of the day, we went along with him on this, so we’re going to support him on it.”
Through 22 regular season games with Spartak Moscow, the 5-foot-10, 183-pound skater has a 1-2-3 line and thus far, Khokhlachev’s play this season has the B’s enjoying the forward’s steady progression to the pros.
“He’s been put in a situation where he’s playing against better and older players rather than going back and having the habits he could maybe get away with at the Junior level,” said Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney. “We’ll see where it goes after that.
“Hopefully — you never know — he may end up playing a few games in Providence at the end of the year.”
Beyond the Bruins brass, Khokhlachev also impressed many with his work in the recent Subway Super Series, where he played in all six games and helped lead Russia to victory over the OHL with two goals and an assist.
“His being stronger away from the puck, and the attention-to-detail side to his game without the puck, are paramount to play in the National Hockey League,” said Sweeney of the series.
“We love his skill set,” added Sweeney. “It’s not unlike a Ryan Spooner, in what he’s trying to do at the American League level, and learn the game away from the puck, as well as be creative and [the Bruins] encourage that creativity because that’s why we drafted him in the first place.”
And that’s why Koko could find himself in the middle of the action at the upcoming IIHF World Junior Championship in Russia.
“From start to finish, I thought he was one of Team Russia’s better players,” said Sweeney of Russia’s Super Series squad. “He did show a lot of leadership.
“We all know his talents with the puck, and his ability to create, and change pace, and make plays and find others. He has that ability to make players better around him or play with better players. That’s a unique skill set in itself.
“But playing without the puck is something that we asked him to do.”
And Sweeney reiterated that overseas in Russia, Kokhlachev will be afforded that opportunity to grow.
“Playing in the KHL against men has helped him in that part of the game, where he can’t get away with some of the things you can in Juniors as a better player,” Sweeney said. “Hopefully he continues to do that going forward.”
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