Professional Spotlight: Alexander Khokhlachev
Bruins Prospect Alexander Khokhlachev has been making steady progress since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
BostonBruins.com - At 20 years old, Alexander Khokhlacehv is playing in his second season for the Providence Bruins. He was the second round draft choice of the Bruins in 2011, and checked in via phone call to give an update on his progression through the system.
Just 17 years old at the time, how did it feel for Khokhlachev, known as “Koko” around the Bruins system, to be picked 41st overall by the Boston Bruins just days after they secured their first Stanley Cup championship in 39 years?
“A special day. Before the draft I didn’t know who would draft me and after Boston picked me it was just a great feeling to get my first chance to make a team. I had a lot of feelings in the draft and it was a great feeling.”
Khokhlachev made his professional debut with Providence in 2012, which was an especially busy year for him. After inking a three-year deal with Boston, he started his season in Russia playing for MHC Spartak of the KHL, and wound up playing in the U-20 World Junior Championship. He then went back to the OHL to play his third season for the Windsor Spitfires before finding his current home in Providence.
“It’s been a long year and a really good year; my first pro year. I learned a lot and know what to expect right now,” he said.
This storied past led Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney to previously call him a “bit of a nomad.” Has Koko found it difficult to move around leagues and teams so often?
“It’s not just different leagues but different countries; Russia, Canada, America,” he said. “But it’s all good. Everywhere is kind of fun and I enjoy it everywhere.”
It’s usually a tough adjustment for international players to come to an entirely new country and adapt to the ways of North American hockey, as well as the obvious language barrier; though Koko has taken the challenge in stride.
“When I came the first time I was 15, to Canada,” he said. “But it’s not really hard because there was great people living there and everybody helped me when I first came there. My billet family helped me a lot my first year and the whole time when I lived with them.”
“I mean, home is home, but I love everywhere I’ve been.”
The success Koko had in the OHL, amassing 193 points in 152 regular season games plus another 20 points in 18 postseason contests, certainly helped showcase the offensive talent that he possesses.
“The OHL is probably the best Junior league in the world. I had a great three years there. Everything was good,” he said. “My first year we went to the conference finals.”
Koko went through his first professional training camp during this year’s preseason with the Boston Bruins, which was an exciting opportunity for the young center.
“It was my first time really practicing with NHL guys and it was a great feeling. Tried to do my best every day.”
“Everybody [in the Bruins organization] helped me there and if I made a mistake they told me and I tried not to repeat it,” he said. “Every day I tried to get better and I tried to learn more every day.”
Khokhlachev’s raw talent is obvious, and he turned some heads during training camp and his few preseason games. However, there are improvements he must make to his game before he can don the Spoked-B.
“I try to do better every day and work hard and I just see how I can be better everywhere, like all my game. Be stronger, smarter, faster, everything.”
Though he isn’t polished enough to break through into the NHL yet, Koko realizes his NHL journey is a work in progress, and it’s a challenge he takes on with pride and enthusiasm.
“To play in the NHL, the NHL is the best league in the world, so you need to be a really good player to make it. So right now I need to improve my all-around game and try to be stronger and faster. Just keep working every day to play here.”
---Ethan Hartley, BostonBruins.com