Khokhlachev to KHL in Russia 'not set in stone'

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Khokhlachev to KHL in Russia 'not set in stone'

WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins havent given up hope that Alex Khokhlachev is off to the Mother Russia and the KHL next season, even after the forwards Windsor Spitfires GM said last week it was basically a fait accompli.

The 19-year-old Russian prospect and 2011 second-round pick will attend Bruins training camp in September, and could stay in North America should he make the NHL club. Thats not completely out of the realm of possibility given Kokos talent and his ability to stand out last season among the best Bs players in regular training camp.

Koko dominated the OHL for the Windsor Spitfires over the last two years, and hes looking for a bigger challenge next season whether its the KHL or the NHL level.

We expect Koko to develop whether its playing in the KHL or playing over here, said Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney. If he makes our team out of training camp then hell be playing here in Boston. So I dont think its set in stone.

Weve charted out a path of where hell be. Hes intrigued by playing at higher levels. I think we saw in World Juniors that when hes playing with better players that it elevates his game. We saw that in training camp last year and he just got better and better as we went from rookie camp to exhibition games.

Sweeney didnt confirm that Koko would be headed to the KHL if he doesnt make the Bruins, and deferred to GM Peter Chiarelli as the final authority on the Koko subject.

But the likelihood remains that hell be playing for his fathers Spartak team in the KHL next season. That would be Khokhlachevs plan if he doesnt make the Bruins out of camp. At 19 years old, he's too young to play in the AHL for the Providence Bruins next season.

That would leave the Bruins only until June 1, 2013 to sign Khokhlachev before they would surrender his draft rights, and thats something GM Peter Chiarelli and his front office would like to avoid given Khokhlachev's considerable upside.

He has that skill level to be able to do elevate to the highest levels of hockey, said Sweeney. Its the same things as with Ryan Spooner, its about acquiring the strength and the habits between now and training camp. Whether he can do that remains to be seen.

If theres a work stoppage that wipes out Bs regular training camp, then the Bruins brass might never see Koko this fall. But thats a story for another day. For now, the chances are slim that he can bypass the KHL by cracking the Bruins squad.

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.