|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.
|Reaction to the Tuukka Rask deal||06.28.12 at 4:36 pm ET|
With the Bruins and Tuukka Rask reportedly agreeing in principle to a one-year, $3.5 million deal, several points can be drawn. Here’s some quick analysis of the signing.
– Given that Rask has never started the majority of the regular-season games in any season in his NHL career, this deal is a smart one for the B’s. It allows Rask, who was limited to just 22 starts last season due to being Tim Thomas‘ backup and later being injured, to prove to the Bruins that he’s an elite starting goaltender before they pay him as such.
The most starts Rask has had in a single season was 39 back in the 2009-10 season, when he led the NHL with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He had 27 starts in the 2010-11 season before last season’s 22.
– Rask, who would have been a restricted free agent this Sunday (the first day of free agency), will be a restricted free agent again at the end of this deal. A player needs to either be 27 years of age or to have played seven seasons in the league in order to be an unrestricted free agent, and the now-25-year-old Rask will be neither next July 1. That means that there’s no possibility that Rask can put together a mammoth season and bolt next summer without the Bruins getting anything return. If Rask ends up getting big money out of this move, it will come from the Bruins unless they trade him or see him signed away via an offer sheet. The latter scenario would be as rare as it gets, so don’t count on him going anywhere.
– Malcolm Subban doesn’t have anything to do with this. The 18-year-old OHL goaltender and 2012 24th overall pick is still years and years away from being an NHL goaltender, so there’s no chance that the B’s gave Rask one year with the idea of replacing him with Subban in 2013.
– While the one-year deal isn’t a major shock for reasons listed above, the $3.5 million total could be a bargain for the Bruins. It’s a big raise for Rask, who carried a $1.25 million cap hit over the course of his recently expired two-year, $2.5 million deal, but the guess here was that Rask’s next deal would end up getting a deal somewhere around $4 million range. If he puts together a brilliant season for the B’s, he could end up getting paid much more than that each year in his next deal. With Thomas’ deal expired by then (if they don’t trade him), the B’s will have that space against the cap to commit to Rask.
– Speaking of next deals, Peter Chiarelli is going to have a lot of work to do over the course of the next year. Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference and Anton Khudobin will be unrestricted free agents next summer, while Rask, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Jordan Caron will all be restricted.
|Bruins reportedly give Tuukka Rask one-year deal||06.28.12 at 4:14 pm ET|
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie (via twitter), the Bruins and goaltender Tuukka Rask have agreed to terms on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. Rask was set to become a restricted free agent on Sunday, the opening of free agency.
Last season, Rask was limited to 22 starts due to an abdomen/groin injury suffered in March. He posted an 11-8-3 record with a 2.05 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. He is expected to be the team’s No. 1 goalie next season, with Anton Khudobin serving as the backup.
In order to be an unrestricted free agent, a player must be either 27 years of age or have played seven years in the league. Rask, 25, will not have met either of those benchmarks, so he will be a restricted free agent again following the coming season.
|Dougie Hamilton breaks down Malcolm Subban the defenseman||06.28.12 at 2:00 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Dougie Hamilton and Malcolm Subban will be connected by their shared status as top picks of the Bruins. Think of them as the Tyler Seguin and Joe Colborne — two high-profile players taking part in 2010’s development camp — of this year. Unlike Seguin and Colborne, Hamilton and Subban’s connection goes a lot farther back.
Though they’ve only been the same organization for less than a week, Hamilton and Subban have shared the same ice since they were kids. As young players growing up in Ontario, the two often played against each other — both as defensemen, as Subban didn’t start playing goalie until he was 12. Since then, they’ve been OHL opponents, with Hamilton being a star player for the Niagara IceDogs and Subban between the pipes for the Belleville Bulls.
“I grew up always playing against him,” Hamilton said Thursday of Subban. “We were always in the same league, and we were talking [Wednesday] about the days when we were both defensemen. I still remember, we were both rushing defensemen, and in those games it was me and him.
“He probably could be here as a defenseman too, but he’s obviously a pretty good goalie, so it’s definitely fun to have him here.”
Given that both players have older brothers — Freddie Hamilton (Sharks) and P.K. Subban (Canadiens) — their parents even became friends from “always seeing each other at the rink,” according to Hamilton.
On the ice Thursday, Hamilton and Subban could be seen chatting from time to time, including during stretches in a photo-opportunistic scene in which the Bruins’ last two first-round picks grinned as they conversed.
For as long as they’ve known each other, Hamilton has known Subban’s talent, regardless of which position earned him his status as a first-round pick.
“As a D, he was pretty fast,” Hamilton said of the now netminding Subban. “He could skate and pretty much do everything. As a goalie, I haven’t seen him too much, but I know he’s pretty athletic and can make pretty spectacular saves and the easy ones as well. I’m excited to be here with him.”
|Notes from Day 1 of development camp||06.28.12 at 12:52 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins have wrapped up the first day of their development camp, with media availability finishing up just after 12:30 p.m. Here are some quick notes from the first day:
– The Bruins wouldn’t divulge the specifics on Alexander Khokhlachev’s situation. The 18-year-old forward for Windsor of the OHL is rumored to be headed for the KHL next season, but assistant general manager Don Sweeney said “those things aren’t set in stone.” Khokhlachev will speak Friday, while Peter Chiarelli is expected to eventually update the media on the 2011 second-round pick’s situation. Regardless of Khokhlachev’s plans for next season, Sweeney said he will be at training camp in September.
– Dougie Hamilton has added some bulk, and though he said he has gotten bigger since last season, neither he nor the Bruins said his exact weight (he finished the OHL season at 198 pounds). Hamilton said, “depending on the scale right now, 205 to 200.” Sweeney noted Hamilton will be bigger for training camp.
– Something you probably wouldn’t ever expect in Boston until last week: As the players got off the ice, there was a “Subban! Subban!” chant. It was for first-round pick Malcolm Subban, of course. Subban was one of six goalies in attendance.
– The distinction of most interesting goalie mask goes to Adam Morrison, who has the likes of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons and Doug and Bob McKenzie from SCTV on his mask.
– The only player on the camp roster not in attendance was forward Alexander Fallstrom, who is injured.
|Bruins kick off development camp||06.28.12 at 11:07 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins opened their sixth annual development camp Thursday, as the team’s top prospects and other youngsters took the ice at Ristuccia Arena.
Among the players in attendance are Dougie Hamilton, Malcolm Subban, Alexander Khokhlachev, Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight. For the complete roster, click here. For some things to keep an eye on throughout the five-day camp, click here.
|Shawn Thornton talks Tuukka Rask, Malcolm Subban and the Merlot Line||06.26.12 at 6:14 pm ET|
On Tuukka Rask being the No. 1 goalie this coming season:
“I’ve been texting with him. He’s back in Finland, so I haven’t had a full conversation with him, but I’ve texted back and forth with him. Not about anything hockey-wise, just life stuff.
“It’s June, so I’m not too worried about it right now. I have all the confidence in the world in Tuukka. His numbers have proven that he can start in this league. All his teammates love him. He’s a great guy. They still have to re-sign him, but I’m very confident with him between the pipes.”
“I’m ecstatic. I’ve loved playing with those guys. We kind of know where each other are on the ice now. We don’t have to talk, we’ve been with each other for so long now that we can kind of just read off each other. That should help us in years to come.”
On the chemistry between fourth-liners:
“I’ve been on it longer, I guess. I get along with them very well as friends, first and foremost, and obviously as teammates. I’m happy to have them back.”
On having a Subban (Malcolm Subban) in the organization:
“I don’t follow junior hockey, so I didn’t even know [P.K. Subban] had a brother playing, to tell you the truth. If he was the best player available and he’s going to make our team better in the future, then I mean Peter’s a pretty smart man and I’m sure they made the right choice.”
Rob Bradford contributed [a.k.a. did all the legwork] to this report.