There are players who are known not only because of their exceptional talent, but also because they have something additional, mysterious that makes them intriguing off the ice. Would Alexander Ovechkin have the same reknown without his exuberant personality?
So it is with 16-year-old Alexander Khokhlachev, a center who currently plays for the Spartak Moscow junior team.
Khokhlachev is one of the players who had the honor to become a “face of the league” as, since this summer, his picture is featured in all Moscow’s streets. In late August when the KHL announced the launch of the new Russian Junior league, four players were chosen to become the league’s representatives, and Khokhlachev was one of them, along with Alexander Avtsin (MTL), 2010-eligible offensive defenseman Alexei Marchenko and 19-year-old forward Arseny Kardailsky.
Being one of the league’s attractions made Khokhlachev proud: “It’s of course really nice that they have chosen to associate me with the new league.”
But without the talent, he wouldn’t be an attraction outside of it. Capable of playing both center and wing, Khokhlachev is a not a big player at 5’11”, 176 lbs, but he can certainly compensate this issue with his talent. And at 16 he has a lot of time to bulk up and mature physically. >
He seems not to have the same issue with his mental game: “I consider myself as a player with a strong personality. I always try, in any group, to become its leader, both on and off the ice.”
Evgeny Belousov of Russian Prospects shared his view on the young player: “Khokhlachev is a rather skillful player for his age. His skating is one of the best of his team and he uses it to get past defensemen. Additionally, he has a nice vision and reading of the game that helps him in being effective both in attack and in defense. On the other hand, he has to improve on his decision-making and has to work a bit on his passing. Nevertheless, if he continue working hard and getting good ice time, he can definitely become a great center.”
A nothing but flashy skater, Khokhlachev makes thing happen with his excellent skating abilities and his great vision of the ice, qualities that made him a lock for Team Russia 93, even getting consideration for the squad that will play in the U18 WJC scheduled for April in Minsk, Belarus. It will be hard considering that the team will be made up mostly of 92-born players, but he thinks he has a chance: “one has always a chance as everything depends on us.”
Quite effective on faceoff dots too, Khokhlachev is a player who has all the tools to become a star and he definitely has NHL potential. Even though he has numerous times stated his commitment towards his home club of Spartak, he is interested in crossing the pond: to “test yourself overseas is always interesting. Any player strives for the world’s best league, and today that’s the NHL.”
Khokhlachev is eligible for the 2011 draft by only a few days as he was born on Sept. 9, 1993. So far this season, he scored 10 goals and 26 points in 30 matches, remarkable numbers for a player who constantly faces opponents two years older. In fact, Khokhlachev would normally be too young to play in the MHL as players eligible are from 17 to 21 years old, but upon medical checks also 16-year-olds can join the league.
As mentioned earlier, he’s also a member of the Russian Under-17 national team and he recently skated with the team in an international tournament in Slovakia in which they finished with a disappointing third place, behind Team USA and the hosts. He scored only one point in three games, but he displayed a lot of flashes of his worth, especially in the third match, against the Slovaks.
Naming Sergei Fedorov his idol, Khokhlachev wanted to specify that “there are a lot of players that I like, but I don’t want to imitate anyone.”
In January, most likely he will bring his bag of tricks to Canada as Team Russia 93 will participate at Under 17 World Juniors in Timmins. He will be surely among the players to watch of the tournament.
If he can fulfill his big potential and work on his physical play and decision-making, Khokhlachev has high chances to see his face featured in big banners not only in Russia, but also in North America.