Alex Khokhlachev just wanted a chance.
A chance to prove he could play in the NHL, that his impressive AHL numbers could translate into success at the highest level.
Unfortunately for the 22-year-old Russian, he hasn’t really been granted one. At least, not the kind of chance he was hoping for. Khokhlachev has once again spent most of his season with the Providence Bruins, for whom he has 47 points in 42 games. He’s only played five games for the Boston Bruins, receiving limited ice time and failing to register a point.
And so it’s no surprise to see the following report on Twitter:
Khokhlachev is a pending restricted free agent.
One team that could be interested is the Vancouver Canucks. Their GM is Jim Benning, who used to be the Bruins’ assistant GM. And Benning said a lot of nice things about Khokhlachev back in 2011, after the B’s drafted him 40th overall.
“He’s a skilled player,” said Benning, per the Boston Globe. “Loves to score. For a Russian player, he’s real competitive. He’s strong on the puck. He’s an elusive skater. From the blue line in on the offensive end, that’s the strength of his game.”
Granted, almost five years have passed since Benning made those comments. But considering the Bruins are reportedly interested in Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis, and considering Khokhlachev seems to match the profile of player that the Canucks have acquired during Benning’s tenure (see: Sven Baertschi, Emerson Etem, Linden Vey, Markus Granlund), well, it’s only fair to speculate.
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that they’ve recalled forwards William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Nikita Soshnikov, Zach Hyman, and Ben Smith from AHL Toronto.
Nylander, 19, was the eighth overall pick in the 2014 draft. He’s second in scoring on the Marlies with 18 goals and 27 assists in 37 games. TSN’s Craig Button recently called Nylander the top NHL-affiliated prospect in the league.
So there’s understandable excitement in Toronto that Nylander could make his NHL debut tonight versus the Lightning.
Kapenen, 19, came to Toronto as part of the Phil Kessel trade with Pittsburgh. The 22nd overall pick in 2014 has eight goals and 14 assists in 32 AHL games this season.
Soshnikov, 22, was signed as a free agent out of the KHL in March. He has 18 goals and 10 assists in 50 games for the Marlies this season.
Hyman, 23, was another free-agent signing. The former University of Michigan star has 13 goals and 20 assists in 50 games for the Marlies.
Smith, 27, came to the Leafs from San Jose in the James Reimer trade.
As of this writing, all five players remain on the Marlies roster. They’ll need to stay on it until 3 p.m. ET today in order to maintain their eligibility for the Calder Cup playoffs.
The Leafs also announced today that they’ve loaned forwards Mark Arcobello, Brendan Leipsic and Josh Leivo to the Marlies.
Whether it happens today or in the summer, nobody will be surprised if Nail Yakupov is traded.
The Edmonton Oilers have already moved out one of their “players who have underachieved and may need a new venue,” as GM Peter Chiarelli put it the other day. On Saturday, Chiarelli sent defenseman Justin Schultz to Pittsburgh.
Yakupov, the first overall pick in 2012, has just five goals in 42 games this season. The 22-year-old has 47 goals in 234 career NHL games.
The Montreal Canadiens are one team that’s come up in speculation. Yakupov was a junior teammate of Habs forward Alex Galchenyuk, who went third overall in 2012. The Sabres and Devils have also reportedly shown interest.
Despite Yakupov’s less-than-impressive offensive numbers this season, and despite his less-than-stellar defensive reputation, there will be teams who see a talented player that could possibly be turned around, just like the Pens saw with Schultz.
What’s unclear is a potential return. On the one hand, this is a guy who not long ago was deemed the top prospect in all of hockey. On the other, so was Alexandre Daigle when he was Yakupov’s age.
Yakupov is signed through next season for a cap hit of $2.5 million, after which he can become a restricted free agent.
It’s official — the Los Angeles Kings have acquired defenseman Rob Scuderi from the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
The Kings announced the deal this afternoon. To make room for Scuderi on the 23-man roster, they assigned d-man Kevin Gravel to AHL Ontario.
Scuderi won a Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012, when he played all 20 playoff games and logged an average of 21:44 in ice time under head coach Darryl Sutter.
Of course, that was then and this is now. Scuderi turned 37 in December. He’s already been traded twice this season, first from Pittsburgh, and now from Chicago. Earlier this month, he cleared waivers and was assigned to the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford.
The Blackhawks also announced the deal; however, they did not share their immediate plans for Ehrhoff, 33. Like Scuderi, he cleared waivers and was sent to the AHL earlier this month.
No word yet on any salary retention in this deal. Scuderi is signed through next season for a cap hit to the Kings of $2.25 million. Ehrhoff is a pending unrestricted free agent with a cap hit of $1.5 million.
Jakub Voracek has a lower-body injury and will not play for the Flyers Saturday versus the Coyotes, the club announced this afternoon.
The 26-year-old winger will be re-evaluated on Monday.
Voracek had one assist and logged 18:59 of ice time in yesterday’s 3-2 victory over the Wild, but he was reportedly limping after the game.
For the player, it means the end of a 286-game iron-man streak that dates back to Mar. 13, 2012. For the team, it means the loss of their second-leading scorer during a stretch of home games that could determine whether they make the playoffs.
The good news for the Flyers is that captain Claude Giroux could be back Saturday. He practiced with teammates today after missing the last three games with a suspected concussion.
“There’s a chance he’ll play tomorrow,” GM Ron Hextall told reporters.