Speed to Burn: HF’s profile of Alexander Kharitonov

By Joe Muccia

Speed to Burn: Alexander Kharitonov

The Isles made a ton of noise with trades, during Draft Day weekend this year. The two more noticeable trades brought Alexei Yashin and Mike Peca. As most Islander fans know another trade was completed by Mike Milbury the
day before the draft.

On the 22nd of June the Isles acquired booming point
man Adrian Aucoin and speedster Alexander Kharitonov for Mathieu Biron and the Isles 2002 2nd round pick. Understanding the Aucoin portion of the trade
was easy. The Isles need someone to drive the puck in from the point besides Roman Hamrlik. But who is this kid Kharitonov? Is he just a throw-in? Lets look and see just what the Isles got.

The Lightning staff heavily scouted Alexander before they chose him in the 3rd round (81st overall) in the 2000 Entry Draft. In his final year with Moscow Dynamo, he tallied 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 35 games. They were impressed with his speed and poise with the puck. He later played for the Russian national team and posted 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists and 1 SHG) in the 6 games of the 2000 World Championships.

Boy can this guy fly! He has got great wheels. In addition to being exceptionally fast, he is extremely agile. He moves in and out of traffic easily. It’s a good thing he can too, because he’s small. One source had
him listed at 5’9″, 170lbs. Another had him at 5’6″, 170lbs. Whichever one is right does not matter, because he is just plain small. The reason the Lightning included him in the deal was because Bolts GM Rick Dudley stated
that they were trying to get bigger. They weren’t unhappy with his play, just his size.

Kharitonov sees the ice well. He has great passing instincts and can deliver a pass at high speed accurately. In fact his first point was an assist on a power play goal against the Islanders on opening night, Oct. 6th,
2000. Although he usually tallies more goals than assists, he has been unable to do this at the NHL level. He has a good shot, but simply has not been able to score against the big boys. Due to his size, it may just be a
case of him being unable to fight for position, so he remains a perimeter player. His production was respectable for a rookie (7 goals, 15 assists in 66 games), but I believe the Bolts expected more goal scoring from him.

Defensively, Alexander is responsible. It is well documented that during the 2000 World Championships, he played on a line with Alexei Yashin and Pavel Bure, all the while posting a plus-6 +/- (not an easy feat
considering he played with Pavel “I can’t find my own zone with a map” Bure).

Many Islander fans felt that the trading for Kharitonov was a good indicator that Milbury would make a strong attempt to acquire his former line mate
Yashin. How right they were.

I can tell you this; it is going to be tough for the diminutive Russian to crack the Isles lineup. With Czerkawski manning the right on the first line and Parrish manning the right on the second line, that only leaves the
third and fourth lines with space for Alexander. He’ll have to fight it out with the other right wings in camp: Kolnik, Webb and Tuomianen.

Personally, I believe that Konik, because of his goal scoring ability, has the inside track on the third line spot. That leaves the fourth line. Tuomianen may
have the advantage here because although he is not as fast as Kharitonov, he plays excellent defense and has some scoring ability. Webb meanwhile, provides a Tyson Nash-like agitator/instigator presence that the Islanders
need.

If Alexander does make to the Island, it will be an emergency call-up to replace an injured player. One place that he could help is on the power play. He has chemistry with Yashin and could play the perimeter (because of
his size), where the more open ice would benefit someone of his speed and talent level (despite his stature). It’s a small role for a small guy.

All jokes aside, Alexander will most likely be in Bridgeport. He’ll be an exciting player for them. Alexander will excel because of the reduced skill
level and speed of the opposition. His future in the NHL will be as a power play specialist.

This is the first installment of a series of articles that I’m going to post here on the Isles page on Hockey’s Future. I’m going to try and post some
items with regards to some of the Islanders newer or maybe lesser known players and prospects. I hope everyone enjoys and please feel free to drop me comments directly or post to the page.

Thanks,
Joe Muccia

Next report: Marko Tuomianen