Bruins sign Alexander Khokhlachev as he prepares for KHL
|06.29.12 at 12:40 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli shed light on 2011 second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev‘s situation Friday, confirming that the Russian forward will play in the KHL next season but noting that the Bruins have agreed with him on an entry level deal, allowing them to retain his rights. The deal will not be registered with the league until Sunday.
Khokhlachev, 18, will play one season in the KHL for Moscow Spartak (where his father is the general manager) before returning to North America to turn pro in the 2013-14 season.
“The plan is now for him to play in Russia,” Chiarelli said. “He’ll attend our camp, and then he’ll go back for the Russian team — his father is the [general] manager there. After one year, he’s under our [control]. He wants to be an NHL player, and he’s making strides towards that.”
Khokhlachev’s season with the Windsor Spitfires [OHL] was cut short by a lacerated kidney last season, an injury from which he still hasn’t fully recovered. He’s taking part in this week’s development camp, but is not taking contact.
The 5-foot-10 forward had 34 goals in 67 games in his draft year before adding 25 more in 56 games this past season. There may be more room for growth against higher competition in the KHL, something “Koko,” as he is called, looks forward to.
“I will be playing with men,” Khokhlachev said. “It’s not junior hockey. It’s a lot of guys who have played in the NHL before, so it’s a really good league, the second[-best] league in the world. ‘¦ In OHL, I play against [younger] guys, and in [the KHL] I’ll play against men.”
Said Chiarelli: “If you have an hour, I could go through all the positives and negatives of both,” Chiarelli said. “What we decided with Koko was that it’s a unique set of circumstances with his dad being the manager there and saying, ‘Look, it’s one year and then back to North America.’ He felt it was right for him, and at the end of the day we went along with him on this. We’re going to support him on it.”
Khokhlachev’s English was very limited when he was first drafted by the B’s last summer, but he seems to have a much better handle on the language after another year of lessons. He said Friday that he’ll be able to continue practicing his English in Russia, as his KHL team will have an American goaltender and a Canadian defenseman.