29. LC Alexander Khokhlachev – Windsor (OHL)
DOB: Sep. 09/93 | Shoots: L | Height: 5.10 | Weight: 172lbs Midterm Rank: 28 | League Rank: 10th OHL | Country Rank: 2nd Russia
There is a slightly subtle trend that is becoming more and more apparent each year in the NHL Entry Draft. A trend that sees players from the Windsor Spitfires continuing to find themselves hearing their name called up to the stage in the first thirty picks every June. While players like Josh Bailey, Ryan Ellis, and Taylor Hall were surefire first round picks, this year a question mark looms over whether or not center Alexander Khokhlachev can continue the trend.
The question marks looming over Khokhlachev is nothing new to the Moscow native over the last two years of his hockey career. The Russian sank to the 23rd overall pick in the 2010 CHL Import Draft largely due to uncertainty in whether he would report to Windsor. When he did report, the shifty center left little mystery about the season that he would have in which he ended up totaling 76 points in the regular season; earning a third place finish in the OHL’s Rookie of the Year voting. When watching the Russian play this year, it is beyond doubt that Khokhlachev had no problem adjusting to the North American game after playing for Spartak Moscow’s junior team last season.
The first thing that jumps out about Khokhlachev’s game is his heart. With a grinder-like style, Khokhlachev hustles on both the forecheck and backcheck. Watch Khokhlachev closer and one will see that he has a terrific hockey sense. Khokhlachev has no problem driving to the net without the puck and banging home a rebound or setting up backdoor for a pass. This style worked great for the center that saw a lot of playing time with wingers Tom Kuhnhackl (Pittsburgh) and Jake Carrick. Khokhlachev also displays a great release that makes him not only a scoring threat just outside of the crease but inside of the zone as well.
He has a knack for scoring and loves to do it which is often apparent in his Ovechkin-esque celebrations. Khokhlachev had plenty to celebrate about in late March and April after having a huge postseason for the Spitfires. His twenty points in 18 playoff games lead all rookies in scoring and ranked second best on the team behind linemate Kuhnhackl.
Consistency is something that Khokhlachev lacked this year. Could part of this be attributed to his transition to the North American game? Possibly. Next year should be a very telling year on whether or not this will be a problem that could hold him back from reaching his full potential. While his work ethic and hockey sense without the puck is great, it seems as if the 5’10” forward plays much smaller with the puck on his stick. Khokhlachev was frequently seen not coming out of the corners with the puck and struggling to fight through checks along the wall.
It will be very interesting to see how well Khokhlachev does in the physical area of the NHL Combine with what appears to be strength issues. It would be easy to give him yet another pass in the strength category being a late 1993 playing against 20 year olds, but it is definitely something that is holding his all-around game back.
Question marks will continue to surround the young Khokhlachev, as he continues to polish his game, but one thing is for certain; the sky is the limit for the Russian with his style of play and work ethic.
Pros: Work ethic/hustle, hockey sense
Cons: Consistency, playing bigger than his 5’10” size
Skillset Comparison: Alexander Burmistrov