May 26, 2012

B's prospect Khokhlachev weighs options for KHL

By Kirk Luedeke

Alex Khokhlachev, seen here at the Bruins' development camp last summer, had 69 points in 56 games for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires this season. (Dave Arnold Photography)

Bruins 2011 second-round draft pick Alexander Khokhlachev may be making a return to the Motherland next season if reports out of Windsor are true.

The 40th overall selection who scored 59 goals and 145 points in two OHL years with the Windsor Spitfires is reported to be mulling a jump back to his native Russia to skate with HC Spartak of the KHL.

A report by Jim Parker of the Windsor Star said that Khokhlachev, also known by his popular nickname, “KoKo,” is “looking at his options” for the 2012-13 season.

The 18-year-old forward is currently unsigned by the Bruins, but a quote from his father in the Russian media recently indicated that he is in talks with the team on an entry-level contract.

A Bruins source indicated to New England Hockey Journal today that the reports of KoKo considering a jump to the KHL with HC Moscow Spartak are accurate, but did not have a detailed read on what that means for the B’s and the rumored contract negotiations.

Under the current CBA, because Khokhlachev was drafted out of the OHL, the Bruins have until June 1, 2013 to sign him or lose him back into the NHL draft. However, the rules are unclear as to whether his leaving North America for the Russian pro league would provide for Boston retaining his rights if an ELC agreement is not reached prior to the normal deadline for North American-based players in major junior.

"I have no idea what he's doing," Rychel told the Windsor Star. "He's looking at all his options."

As a CHL player, Khokhlachev is not eligible to play in the AHL next season if he does not make the Boston roster out of training camp (assuming he were to attend camp as he did a year ago). He would have to return to the OHL for one more season before being eligible to turn pro and play either in the NHL or AHL for 2013-14.

While no decision has been made, this latest development serves as further kindling for an already hot debate over the merits and pitfalls of drafting Russian players.

While a stint in the KHL could eventually benefit Khokhlachev and his development, as of right now, it does cloud his future with Boston.

Pending any further clarification of the CBA and how it pertains to KoKo’s status, we will have wait and see where the talented young prospect ends up in the short-term before a better understanding of the long-term picture comes more into focus.

Kirk Luedeke can be reached at kluedeke@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kluedeke29.