Bruins' prospect 'Koko' making most of camp

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Bruins' prospect 'Koko' making most of camp

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

PROVIDENCE So now everyone finally knows what the Koko Show is all about.

After Alexander Khokhlachev showed up to July prospect camp in less-than-stellar shape and suffered through some erratic moments during rookie camp and Bruins main camp this week, the youngest member of the 53-man Bs training camp roster exploded in the Black Teams 4-1 victory over the White Team Tuesday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center .

For a kid who grew up in Russia dreaming of the NHL and moved to Canada for junior hockey just to make it happen a starring role in the scrimmage was a pretty cool experience.

Im here playing games in the best league in the world for the best team in the world. Thats a pretty cool thing and Ive learned so much every single day, said Khokhlachev. Its all been pretty amazing.

The offensive outpouring arrived after coach Claude Julien had openly challenged some of the younger players to show the coaching staff something if they wanted to remain in camp for the NHL preseason games. Koko said as much following the scrimmage in Providence, and hopes hell skate against an NHL team or two after stepping up his game.

Every day they could send me home, so every day I just go to the ice or work out really hard. Im happy here just working and getting a chance right now, said Khokhlachev. I hope I get a chance to play in some of the other preseason games against the NHL teams.

Its been a challenging summer for the 18-year-old hockey prospect after he was drafted by the Bruins, whisked to prospect development camp, dumped back in Windsor, Ontario for a few weeks of training and then sent back to Boston for full Bs training camp. On top of that Khokhlachev had a pair of friends who were killed in the KHL Lokomotiv plane crash, and was far from home while his sport and home country were weathering a horrible tragedy.

But Koko worked through all of that, and straightened out his teenage inconsistencies with a game that showcased all of his skills. The first score was a natural goal-scorers goal with a snap shot from the right faceoff circle off a nifty dish from Dennis Seidenberg. The second resulted from the Russian prospect crashing the net as a pass drifted toward the net.

After the first few minutes I just settled down and played my game, said Khokhlachev. Im trying really hard and was excited because this was my first game with NHL guys. Its a simple game at another level.

Every game I go there and take a shot or wait there for a really good chance to make a play. Every game I just try to help my team win and make a good play for them.

Koko may play in a game or two before hes inevitably returned to the OHLs Windsor Spitfires for another year of junior hockey, but hell leave the Bruins with a good feeling in his heart. Khokhlachev has tasted a little bit of the success hes always dreamed of, and that will keep him working to make it back to Boston for much, much more.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

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Bruins go for a defensive project late with Daniel Bukac

CHICAGO – The Bruins finished up their 2017 NHL Draft class with a bit of a project, but a 6-foot-5 defenseman with some great skating wheels is a pretty good way to go with a seventh round pick. The B’s nabbed Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Daniel Bukac with the 204th pick in the draft, and admitted afterward that he’s an ultra-big bodied player that could take some time in the development process.

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley said Boston is more than happy to be patient with Bukac given the tools that he’s working with as an 18-year-old prospect. Bukac had two goals and 17 points to go along with 38 penalty minutes in his first season in North America after coming over from the Czech Republic, and Bradley said that B’s scouts noted that he continued to improve and get comfortable as the season wore on.

"He's raw. He's a project. [He’s a] kid from the Czech Republic that played in the Western Hockey League,” said Bradley. “At the start of the year - he's come leaps and bounds with his development. Talking to the people - the coaches, the management, and the GM in Brandon, they're very excited about him coming back to Brandon. They're expecting big things from him. We look forward to seeing him in camp."

Bukac is starting to garner some good international experience after playing for the Czechs in the Under-18’s and the Ivan Hinkla Tournament, but this weekend it was all about his addition to the talented group of Bruins prospects in the hockey world.

"I'm so excited to be drafted by the Boston Bruins," said Bukac, who described himself as a solid two-way defenseman with a good first pass. "It's an awesome feeling. I'm so glad that I was drafted by Boston."

Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

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Bruins take a flier on skilled Victor Berglund in 7th round

CHICAGO – While the Bruins went strong two-way defenseman early in the 2017 NHL Draft, they took a shot at a more offensive-minded Swedish defenseman late with seventh-round pick of Victor Berglund.

The six-foot, 165-pound Berglund clearly has a way to go in physical development and will need to get much bigger and stronger before he’s potentially ready for the North American pro ranks, but B’s assistant GM Scott Bradley raved about the Swedish defenseman’s skill set and potential. He also noted that Boston’s entire European scouting contingent, including former B’s forward PJ Axelsson, were fully on board with taking a flier on a talented player that simply needs to develop in the Swedish hockey system.

“Our Swedish guys were on top of Berglund. They think he’s a mobile D, he’s ultra-skilled and he skates well. He’s a six-footer, but [PJ Axelsson, Svenake Svensson and Victor Nybladh] were all pounding the table for him,” said Bradley. “We went along with it and I think we might have something there. Talking to his strength coach after the fact he’s working on putting some muscle and weight on, so we look forward to seeing him at development camp.”

In 62 games at three different levels, Berglund posted five goals and 18 points last season and displayed the kind of speed, creativity and play-making that one needs from their defensemen in today’s NHL.

"I'm an offensive defenseman, who likes to play with the puck, with a great short pass," said Berglund. "I like to follow the rush up ice and want the puck."

It will be a matter of building size and strength and for Berglund to continue developing his game in Sweden for the time being, but the Bruins are certainly happy with him at the 195th pick in Saturday’s second day of the draft.