Khokhlachev mourns loss of friends in KHL crash

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Khokhlachev mourns loss of friends in KHL crash

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash has brutally affected people all across the hockey world, and unfortunately the young and talented Bruins prospects at rookie training camp are no different.

Bs 2011 second round pick Alexander Khokhlachev grew up in the Russian capital city of Moscow and has watched all of the news and reports out of his home country with wide-eyed horror over the last week while working out in North America for his first NHL training camp.

Its been very difficult for Khokhlachev being so far away from home when tragedy struck at the heart of his mother country, and things hit very close to Kokos heart when the crash took the lives of a pair of his friends the talented center grew up playing with.

Khokhlachev played for a pair of junior Russian National teams with 18-year-old Maxim Shuvalov and also knew 21-year-old Sergei Ostapchuk, who had played a pair of seasons in the Quebec Major Junior League before joining on with Lokomotiv in the KHL. Both young men were lost before the prime of their lives when the Yak-42 plane ripped apart in Yaroslavl.

Khokhlachev mourns the loss of both comrades.

I went to one school with Ostapchuk. This is just terrible. It was the first Lokomotiv road trip of the year, so they brought some of the young guys that I knew. Just really terrible news, said Khokhlachev. There were a couple of young guys there. It was shock first thing when you heard and then you just felt really bad for all of those guys. Its a really bad time. I dont even know how to explain it.

The crash came at the end of a challenging summer for Khokhlachev, who scored 30 goals with the Windsor Spitfires last season while learning English and mastering the North American game before heading home to Moscow for a couple of weeks.

Then Khokhlachev headed to Toronto for the NHL rookie combine, hit Minnesota for the NHL draft and then flew to Boston for a prospect camp that he wasnt quite physically prepared for after the Bs tapped him in the second round.

Once the Bs prospect camp was over Khokhlachev went right back to Ontario to begin working out in Windsor with some new instructions and training tips from the Bs training staff.

The whirlwind summer appeared to be winding up on a high note with Bs training camp on the horizon and Khokhlachev celebrating his 18th birthday on the first day of rookie camp. But that was all cast in a different light when he saw the Russian plane go down immediately after take-off, cutting down the lives of so many good hockey people.

It was really tough when you dont know everything thats going on, said Khokhlachev. Ive been reading the news every day and checking on things. I think theyre going to find out in the next couple of days what actually happened with the plane. So we just wait for now.

Khokhlachev knows that it will be important to impress when he plays in the two rookie games against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum over the next two evenings, but the Russian scorer will be doing so with a bit of a heavy heart.

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

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

Bean: The (incorrect) case for the Bruins signing Kevin Shattenkirk

The Bruins should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. They really shouldn’t. 

Yet they might. Pierre McGuire said on TSN Radio Tuesday that his guess is that Shattenkirk, arguably the best free agent defenseman on the market, will end up in Boston.

It is remarkable how universally against a Shattenkirk megadeal B’s fans have seemingly been. A Twitter poll with over 3,600 votes this month had Bruins fans preferring Boston sign 40-year-old Zdeno Chara to a two-year, $8 million extension than the 28-year-old  Shattenkirk to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal. 

That is obviously the correct conclusion, but considering how hard the false “Chara is old and bad” garbage is pushed in this town, it’s telling that 64 percent would rather he stick around than the team build the defense around Shattenkirk. 

Of course, Shattenkirk is not a bad player just because he’s been overrated in recent seasons. He’s a decent second-pairing defender and strong power play asset who can be penciled in for 40 points a year. The Bruins already have that in Torey Krug, and he makes less than Shattenkirk figures to command. Shattenkirk is also a righty who plays on the right, which is not a need for the Bruins, whereas Krug is a left shot who plays both sides. 

Add in the Bruins’ cap situation due to some bad contracts and they why of Shattenkirk would be a bad signing doesn’t need to be re-hashed. By this point, the explanation’s been given a few times in a few different places. 

So what would the Bruins’ actual case for signing Shattenkirk be? 

TO KEEP IT MOVING 

Last season was encouraging for Bruins fans because it saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in three years while also seeing young talent emerge. Yet they still only made the playoffs by two points, something of which Don Sweeney and Cam Neely are undoubtedly aware. 

So for all the good signs, this could be a fringe playoff team again if more improvements aren’t made, and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years would mark a step back in the eyes of ownership, perhaps putting jobs in danger. It would be a shame if money were spent irresponsibly for the sake of saving jobs, but Shattenkirk would definitely make the Bruins better next season, even if it crippled them financially down the road. 

TO PULL A CHIARELLIAN FREE AGENT SWITCHEROO

With McAvoy set to be a top-pairing player and Brandon Carlo a good second-pairing option, the Bruins do not have a need for a highly paid right-shot defender. That doesn’t mean they don’t have needs elsewhere. 

Last offseason, Peter Chiarelli made the controversial move of trading Taylor Hall, one of the best left wings on the planet. He did it to get Adam Larsson to help build Edmonton’s blue line up, then he went out and signed Milan Lucic in free agency to replace Hall. 

If the Bruins truly have designs on adding Shattenkirk, perhaps they could have something similar in mind: Trade someone like Carlo for either a left-shot defenseman or a left wing, then replace Carlo with Shattenkirk. 

This would still not be financially palatable, however. When the Oilers traded Hall for Larsson, they swapped a player with a $6 million cap hit for a player with a $4.16 million cap hit and replaced the original player (Hall) with a player in Lucic who carried a $6 million cap hit. So essentially they netted one player for an additional $4.16 million. 

Carlo is on his entry level contract, so unless the Bruins traded him for a player on an entry-level deal, they’d be spending a lot of money in any maneuver that involved replacing him with Shattenkirk. 

TO GO ALL-IN ON POST-CLAUDE LIFE

Claude Julien’s detractors lamented his affinity for responsibility. They loved it when Bruce Cassidy was more open to trading chances. 

Well, you like trading chances? Shattenkirk’s your guy. He’s a good skater, a good offensive player and a sub-par defender. You put Krug, Shattenkirk and McAvoy as three of your four top-four defenseman and you’ll be a long way from the days of Chara, Seidenberg and Boychuk, for better or worse. 

BUT, KEEP IN MIND . . . 

They for sure should not sign Kevin Shattenkirk. 

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while wishing that Gordon Hayward and Paul George were already in Boston, like, yesterday.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Freidman gives his 30 thoughts for the week, including the trade value of a first-round pick right now.

*It could that non-unrestricted free agents steal all of the thunder on July 1 with massive contract extensions a la Connor McDavid.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Detroit Red Wings taking potential fliers on a number of veteran D-men that are out on the free market.

*With free agency right around the corner, the legendary Stan Fischler details the sad end to Bobby Orr’s career in Boston, where he was lied to about the offer extended to him and ended up playing things out with the Chicago Blackhawks in a way that it shouldn’t have gone. The sight of Orr in a Blackhawks sweater is one of the real all-time NHL oddities out there.

*The NCAA is eying college hockey expansion in NHL markets, including the University of Illinois and Pitt, and, from what I’ve been told, perhaps UNLV and maybe even Vanderbilt. This is a great thing for amateur hockey players and anybody that can’t get enough of the game.  

*Ex-Senators defenseman Marc Methot holds no ill will toward the Sens after being dealt from Vegas to the Dallas Stars following his selection in the expansion draft.

*Josh Ho-Sang shares his wisdom to Islanders prospects as a 21-year-old somebody that’s gone through the ups and downs of being in their shoes.

*As we referenced above, Connor McDavid is closing in on a massive contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers that will probably make him the highest paid player in the NHL.

*For something completely different: My heart goes out to this Roslindale family fighting through a situation with a child who has a life-threatening disorder. They have a Go-Fund-Me page, so please give if you can.