In spite of the Erixongate drama, there are still reasons to be positive: namely the upcoming NHL entry draft and having a decent enough pick that we can hope for an NHL caliber player to develop. Last time we profiled SVEN, who, I'll admit, is my top choice.
Today I'm going to reach a bit deeper and talk about a Russian forward (must be streaky or enigmatic!) who will almost definitely be available for the Flames, and why he wouldn't be a terrible choice at number 13.
Alexander Khokhlachev doesn't have the gaudiest numbers. He doesn't have the easiest to spell last name. He's not an absurd Chara-esque size. So why am I ranking him so high in my wishful thinking?
Let me start by referring to Buzzing the Net's Jeff Skinner Rankings. Loosely based on the NHLE ratings I was posting for Flames prospects here this year, the JSR take into account several other things: when the points come, points in the playoffs, and birth month. Yes- you heard that last one right, and no- it's not referring to horoscopes.
What the JSR tries to account for is the difference in development between a player who started a season just turning 17 and a player who starts the season almost turning 18. Anyone who's spent time with teenage boys or been a teenage boy (about 49% of the world, if I remember correctly) should know how quickly they grow and bulk up. A teenager who's 11 months ahead will generally have a massive advantage physically and mentally over a 17 year old player. There's generally more time spent playing the sport, a better concept of what to do with a suddenly larger body, and so on; this brings me to Khokhlachev.
He's young for his draft year: a September of 1993 birthday, he barely makes the age cut. And despite this, despite the fact that he's now only played one year of North American hockey, Khokhlachev has put up a very respectable 76 points in 68 games in the OHL, with another 20 in 18 in the playoffs. How good is that, relatively speaking? Well, the JSR has him as the second best draftable forward in Junior this year (two 2012 draftees are ranked as 1 and 2) behind only Ryan Strome. That's pretty good.
So how does he measure up physically? He'll never be mistaken for Milan Lucic- that's a given. At 5'10" and just under 180 lbs he's not huge, but he's pretty a pretty appropriate weight for his height, so it's hardly something to worry about unnecessarily.
Khokhlachev uses his size to an advantage too: he's a slippery skater who always seems to be quick and agile enough to make it to the perfect scoring areas. And with the vision and soft hands he possesses, he's absolutely a scoring threat every game. With these raw talents and an understanding that he's significantly younger than almost every other player in the draft this year, Khokhlachev projects much higher than most realize, and if the Flames find themselves unable to draft Sven Bartschi or another top player in the draft- they'd be wise to take a good look at Alexander Khokhlachev.