By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Forward Alexander Khokhlachev’s time in the Bruins organization is just about over.READ MORE: Richard Seymour's Full Patriots Hall Of Fame Induction Speech
The 2011 second-round pick (40th overall) is pursuing a return to SKA St. Petersburgh in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, and the deal is still in the process of being finalized, according to Khokhlachev’s agent.
“It looks like that’s the only option,” agent Alexei Dementiev told CBS Boston earlier this week.
Khokhlachev, who’ll turn 23 in September, is scheduled to be a restricted free agent this summer. As long as the Bruins submit a qualifying offer each year, Khokhlachev’s rights would belong to Boston until he’s 27.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is willing to trade Khokhlachev in the right deal, which might give the player another option before a deal with St. Petersburg is official.
“We had exit meetings with him. He still wants to play in the National Hockey League. He’s made it pretty clear that he doesn’t think his path is here,” Sweeney said. “I told him I would explore things as a possible opportunity elsewhere for him. I think ideally his first choice is to play [in the NHL]. He believes he should be either playing in the NHL or playing in the KHL. So one of those two things will happen. A lot of it’s up to him.
“I told him flat-out I didn’t think he should be closing his door on the National Hockey League, either with us or with any other team.”
Revelations about Khokhlachev’s situation were originally reported on Twitter by Igor Eronko of Sport-Express.READ MORE: COVID Outbreak Reported In New Hampshire's Largest Jail
The speedy forward is coming off a strong season, during which he had 23 goals and 68 points in 60 games for Providence in the American Hockey League. His 45 assists this season helped him set a new Providence career assists record with 110 in 197 games over four seasons.
But in the past three seasons he appeared in just nine games for Boston and recorded no points. This season he played in five games, including two on the wing next to David Krejci and Loui Eriksson in November. A position change early this season from center to wing and the timing of available lineup spots in Boston contributed to Khokhlachev getting less of an NHL run than he and the organization would’ve liked, Sweeney said.
Khokhlachev also had a hand injury that kept him out a month early in the season and then one that made him miss a weekend in March.
“Again I’ve never absolved us from not necessarily giving him the 30-game stretch that, if you asked him, he deserved,” Sweeney said. “At times whether or not you’re playing up or down in the lineup, sometimes that’s a factor. He’s a skilled player that would’ve been better served to have power-play time. We played him with David in the one game down in Washington and he played well. So sometimes it’s just timing doesn’t work out. There are areas of the game we still want him to work on.
“He’s been a very, very skilled offensive player at the American Hockey League level and deserves to have the opportunity, I think, to try to crack an NHL lineup. There’s several players along the same vein. I’ve never absolved us necessarily from not giving him that 30-game stretch. I’ve had to explain that to him. Sometimes timing is what it is.”
Without getting into specifics, Sweeney and Dementiev both confirmed there had been trade requests made by Khokhlachev’s camp at several points during the player’s stint with the Boston organization, including leading up to the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline. But nothing materialized. Dementiev had accused the Bruins of blocking such deals in comments to Eronko. But in an effort to tone down his rhetoric he would only say “the team does what’s best for the team; the player and agent, they do what’s best for the player” when contacted by CBS Boston.
The Bruins were open to giving Khokhlachev another chance to win a job this fall, but his camp had other ideas.
“Alexander did not really get a chance for all the years that he signed a deal, for four years, the deals he signed with Boston, didn’t really get a chance to play in the National Hockey League, so he won’t stay in the organization,” Dementiev said.MORE NEWS: Maine Hikes Tolls To Recoup Revenue Lost During Pandemic
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.