2011 NHL Draft: Boston Bruins find – and eventually trade – Zdeno Chara’s replacement

By Pat O'Rourke
Alexander Khokhlachev - Boston Bruins

Photo: Boston Bruins forward prospect Alexander Khokhlachev has seen only limited time in the NHL since being chosen by the Bruins in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

While it feels like decades given the current state of the organization, it was just five years ago that the Boston Bruins went into the NHL Draft with the rare daily double of a top-10 pick and possession of Lord Stanley’s cup, having just won its first title in 39 years that June.

The Bruins had the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, which came courtesy of the trade that jettisoned Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009. The pick was used on defenseman Dougie Hamilton, a 6-foot-6, two-way specimen who had helped the Niagara Ice Dogs to the OHL semifinals. While ace defenseman Zdeno Chara was still in his prime, the Bruins had his replacement waiting in the wings.

Fast forward five years, Chara remains the go-to blueliner despite his best years deep in the rearview and Hamilton is a former Bruin, shipped to Calgary in a draft-day deal last summer after the two sides made little progress in contract negotiations as Hamilton was set to become a restricted free agent.

At the end of his third NHL season, Hamilton had emerged as a dependable top-four defenseman at just 21 years old. The future was bright. It remains bright for Hamilton, despite an up-and-down first year with the Flames. The Bruins? Not so much, in large part due to their shortcomings on the back end, a hole that has become a crater as a result of the Hamilton deal.

Therefore, the 2011 NHL Draft for the Bruins will be remembered ultimately by what transpired in the 2015 installment of the event.

As for the rest of that draft? A whole lot of nothing.

Alex Khokhlachev, a left-shot forward taken with the 40th overall pick with Brandon Saad still up for grabs (he was taken 43rd by Chicago), has put up impressive numbers in Providence. However, those numbers never translated to the NHL level and he appears to be headed to the KHL.

Third-round pick Anthony Camara was traded to Carolina for defenseman John-Michael Liles in February without playing a game in Boston. Brian Ferlin, taken in the fourth round, has just seven games and one point to his credit in Boston.

Sixth-round pick Lars Volden never played a game in North America.

The one speck of promise that remains comes from fifth-round pick Rob O’Gara, who signed his entry-level deal with the Bruins this spring following a successful career at Yale. A strong, two-way defenseman, O’Gara comes with top-four projections. But like the Bruins top prospects at the position (Jakub Zboril, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon), O’Gara needs more seasoning before stepping in and making an impact at varsity.

Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara IceDogs (OHL), 1st round, 9th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games: 260

In his three seasons in Boston, Doug Hamilton improved every year and by the end of his tenure with the team was a dependable top-four defenseman –  not too shabby for a 21 year old. Hamilton spent a season-and-a-half with Niagara before joining the Bruins in the 2012-13 season. He was on track to being Zdeno Chara’s replacement as the Bruins No. 1 defenseman.

But Hamilton will never be that player – at least not in Boston – as he was traded to Calgary in a draft-day deal in 2015. While the haul of three draft picks for the defenseman turned into Zach Senyshyn, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, and Jeremy Lauzon, the trade has left a gaping hole in the Bruins defense for the foreseeable future.

Alex Khokhlachev, Windsor Spitfires (OHL), 2nd round, 40th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 9

A 57-point rookie season in the AHL in 2013-14 demonstrated how much promise the Russian forward had, and he put up 68 in 60 this past season in Providence.

That promise has never translated to the NHL level, however, as Alexander Khokhlachev has nine pointless outings to show for his varsity resume. The 22 year old expressed his frustrations with the Bruins not giving him enough of a chance to prove himself in Boston. In the Bruins defense, he has given them little reason to do so during his short time with the big club. Now he appears to be headed to Russia.

Anthony Camara, Saginaw Spirit (OHL), 3rd round, 81st overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 0

Anthony Camara had a strong AHL rookie season in 2013-14 with nine goals and 22 points in 58 games for Providence. The left winger had just 13 more points in 92 games over the next two seasons, however, and was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in the deal the brought John-Michael Liles to Boston.

Camara had eight points in 15 games with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers after the trade.

Brian Ferlin, Indiana Ice (USHL), 4th round, 121st overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 7

Brian Ferlin has been a serviceable depth forward at Providence, but appears to be just that at this stage in his career. His seven games in Boston, in which he recorded an assist, is all he has to show for his NHL resume. At this point, he is likely nothing more than an AHL player who might get NHL minutes on an emergency basis.

After a three-year stint at Cornell University, Ferlin turned pro in 2014-15; he had 14 points for Providence in an injury-riddled 2015-16 season.

Rob O’Gara, Milton Academy (USHS), 5th round, 151st overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games: 0

Rob O’Gara just signed his entry-level deal following a successful career at Yale, and while he has played just five professional hockey games, there is a lot for Bruins fans to like.

A big, rugged two-way defenseman, the Long Island native looks like the second coming of Johnny Boychuk. The 6-foot-4, 207-pound defenseman was among the best at his position in college hockey over the past few seasons, compiling 51 points in four seasons.

Lars Volden, Blues Jr. (Finland), 6th round, 181st overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games: 0

Forget making the Bruins, Lars Volden never even made it across the pond. The Norwegian netminder, taken 181st overall, never played a game in North America, instead playing in Sweden.

However, there is optimism that the goalie is maturing at the age of 23, as he has climbed up the ranks in Sweden the last two seasons. He started 41 games for Rogle in the Swedish 1st Division in 2014-15 before jumping up to the Swedish Hockey League this past season, where he backed up Blue Jackets prospect Oscar Dansk. Appearing in 24 games, Volden went 7-11 with a 2.98 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.

The future in North America (or if he even has one) for Volden is unknown.

Hockey’s Future takes a look back at the 2011 NHL Draft of the Boston Bruins in the video below, including draft footage of first round pick Dougie Hamilton and former Assistant General Manager Jim Benning, plus 2011 NHL Scouting Combine footage of Alexander Khokhlachev.

 

Follow Pat O’Rourke on Twitter via @patorourke_29