Last week, it took a league edict to grant Nail Yakupov safe passage from the Ontario Hockey League to the KHL in his homeland. Now what about another 19-year-old Russian who could come the other direction?
In the summer, Windsor Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel, was in disbelief that his leading scorer, Boston Bruins second-rounder Alexander Khokhlachev, would pass on his final junior season to join Moscow Spartak. But everything in hockey is fluid, so it's not like holding out hope for Khokhlachev was akin to leaving the porch light on for Jimmy Hoffa. Now the Spitfires have acted in case the diminutive playmaker proves to be out of his depth in the KHL. It's also plausible the Spitfires are just making certain their erstwhile star cannot help another team.
General Manager Warren Rychel announced today the club has waived import winger Juraj Bezuch and claimed centre Alexander Khokhlachev on re-entry waivers.
... "This is a window of opportunity for Alex to come back to Windsor," Rychel said. "If he is going to play in the CHL this year, it's going to be for the Spitfires. And he will be welcomed back."
This season, Khoklachev has played in 16 games for Spartak Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, scoring one goal. (Windsor Spitfires press release)
It is only a potential return at this writing, but one think the Spitfires have a strong inkling Khokhlachev could return to North America. Dropping Bezuch, who's now passed through three major junior teams in a calender year, and going without an import forward projects a certain confidence?
The typical timetable for a teen playing overseas to come to the CHL has often been just after Christmas. For instance, last year Henrik Samuelsson left his pro team in Sweden to join the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings (which he obviously found more his speed since he became a Phoenix Coyotes first-round pick). Two seasons ago, the Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors added Los Angeles Kings choice Maxim Kitsyn right after the world junior championship.
(Kitsyn's situation, incidentally, was very similar to the emerging one with Kings pick Nikolay Prokhorkin, whom the OHL's Barrie Colts hope to add.)
The Spitfires entered Friday's action with a 3-2-0-1 record, but had been outscored 22-15 on the season. A two goals per game output obviously augurs poorly over the long run, unless Montreal Canadiens fourth-rounder Brady Vail is somehow able to continue factoring into 60 per cent of their scoring for their entire season. Khokhlachev and is worth the wait.
(Stick tap: Sean Lafortune.)
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.
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