First, the Washington Capitals would like to 'thank' Minnesota for being pretty boring and surprisingly warm. But you have a mall with a rollercoaster inside it, I suppose that's a good thing.
Anyway, with the 26th pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Washington Capitals select.....Alexander Khokhlachev*, center from the Windsor Spitfires.
First, the specs:
DOB: Sep. 09/93 | Shoots: L | Height: 5.10 | Weight: 172lbs (as per thescoutingreport.org)
Midterm Rank: 28 | League Rank: 10th OHL | Country Rank: 2nd Russia
The Capitals are a win-now team that spends to the cap. We're not looking for someone that can necessarily contribute tomorrow, plus, in the late 20's, that's hard to find anyway. With that in mind, we're going for upside baby.
You're probably asking yourself, "Who?", and, "Does he really have the most upside of anyone left?" In a word, yes. I'd argue he should've went earlier.
First, note the birthday. He's barely eligible for this draft. Plenty of room to grow. A repeat of his rookie season and he'd be in the top half of the first round next year, with top-5 potential.
Now lets talk numbers. For Windsor this year, in 67 games he went 34-42-76 and in 18 playoff games he was 9-11-20. This in his rookie year, coming to the other side of the world to play in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar teammates...all of this as a 17 year-old.
Although Alex Ovechkin has done his best to dispel the Russians being more about finesse, and perhaps somewhat soft/disinterested stereotype, Khokhlachev could go a long way toward debunking that himself. Check out what TSR had to say:
The first thing that jumps out about Khokhlachev’s game is his heart. With a grinder-like style, Khokhlachev hustles on both the forecheck and backcheck. Watch Khokhlachev closer and one will see that he has a terrific hockey sense. Khokhlachev has no problem driving to the net without the puck and banging home a rebound or setting up backdoor for a pass.
He has tremendous hands and judging by this YouTube highlight, terrific hockey sense. The biggest knock has been consistency, but it was his rookie year, and really, how inconsistent can you be at 76 points in 67 games.
The Washington Capitals are proud to add Alex to our franchise and look forward to him growing into an important role on our club for a long time.
Can I leave Minnesota now?
*(if you check the HF mock, it's the same pick. I swear this isn't a cop out.....or is it?)
**(quick side note: if the Isles go defense w/ #5, and this guy slips into this range, I would be all for Garth moving up to grab him. Seems like a solid kid with a TON of upside...even if it's hell to try to type his name.)