A highly touted prospect heading into this year, Alexander Khovanov was looking to make hay in the QMJHL in his draft season.
Unfortunately, he ended up becoming ill and missed a large portion of his year with the Wildcats. Given that he didn’t play for 9 months and was adjusting to the North American size rink, the fact that Khovanov was able to put up a near point per game pace with Moncton makes his season even more impressive.
There is a lot of raw talent to the playmaking centre and is why he checks in as the 70th ranked prospect in the CanucksArmy draft rankings.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.43/ April 12, 2000
- Birthplace: Saratov, RUS
- Frame:5-foot-11/ 179 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Moncton Wildcats(QMJHL)
- Russia U15 Champion
- Russia U15 Finals Best Plus/Minus (18)
- Russia U15 Finals Most Assists (14)
- YOG Bronze Medal
- YOG Most Assists (6)
- YOG Most Points (10)
- MHL All-Star Game
- U17 WHC Bronze Medal
Alexander Khovanov was selected 2nd overall in the 2017 CHL Import Draft after Andrei Svechnikov went first overall, and big things were expected from him. Despite being limited to 29 games, the Sarativ native made an impression and appears worth a late 2nd round or early 3rd round selection.
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Moncton struggled all year – finishing six games under .500 and with a -49 goal differential. Given that, the amount of red on the event track isn’t shocking. He did end up with a 49.0% goals for percentage and an impressive +14.5% GFREL%. Despite joining the Wildcats late in the season, Alexander Khovanov made an impact.
Khovanov is in the upper percentiles with SEAL and pGPS.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
Aside from Jeremy McKenna, Khovanov made every one of his most regular teammates better. The Russian centre saw his 5v5 ice time slowly dip as the season progressed and made the biggest impact on the powerplay
A 16.5% success rate among statistical cohorts is in the line with the position that we have him ranked. Adding the illness that kept him out of the lineup and thus the constant feeling of catching up, that percentage is impressive. If had produced at a slightly higher rate, that success rate would’ve increased as the majority of unsuccessful players are in the lower parts of the points per game.
There was some hype about Alexander Khovanov entering this season and rightfully so given his skillset. He attended the Ivan Hlinka camp for Russia where he was diagnosed with Hepatitis A, that he contracted while in the Dominican Republic earlier in the offseason. That illness forced him to miss nine months of action and thus was always that step behind. Given the severity of the illness and the fact that he still put up the points, he did just points to the talent he possesses.
The skilled centre is a playmaker who has the ability to distribute and create offence in a variety of ways. He appears to know where he wants the puck to go before he gets it and puts his teammates in situations where they have time and space. Khovanov is a good stick-handler with patience and movements that allow him to open those lanes to get those passes through. He is willing to hold onto the puck and skate with it whenever he needs to.
His biggest flaw is his skating. There have been times where he can get some speed but generally, he had a bit of trouble keeping up with the pace of the game this season. It does make you wonder how much is his natural ability and how much is the amount of training time lost due to the illness. His skating wasn’t a red flag in the past, so it’s fair to believe that the lack of training made it look worse than it actually is.
Khovanov has a quick little shot that has some pop but lacks weight to it. It’s quick in the release but doesn’t have blazing speed. He will look to make a pass first but isn’t afraid to shoot, which is clear in his 2.31 shots per game.
He is strong on the puck despite his size despite only being 5’11” and 175 lbs.
Honestly, 70th might be a little low for a player like Khovanov given his skillset, playmaking abilities and hockey sense. He may go earlier simply because teams feel that with the illness in the rearview mirror and the ability to have a full summer of training that Alexander Khovanov could be a steal in the second round. There have been some suggestions that Khovanov is a risky pick that could reap great results but I do think those risks are a bit overstated. The left-handed pivot is extremely talented and Hepatitis A isn’t an illness that will affect him long term, it’s just unfortunate that most of his draft eligible season had the shadow cast over it but there is a reason why he was previously touted as one of the top prospects in this draft class.
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Khovanov is a crafty little playmaker that excels in many facets of the game all over the ice…an explosive, agile skater who can control the puck with ease even at top speed…good quickness, edge work and balance on his skates…very tough to knock off the puck for a smaller player…silky-smooth hands and shows above-average puck handling…shows great patience with the puck even when under pressure…possesses a dangerous wrist shot, can fire the puck with good accuracy and quickness…a tape-to-tape passer leading guys to open ice with precision dishes…carries the puck very calmly and is well aware of his linemates positioning due to elite vision…strong in the face-off circle…great hockey smarts…plays a strong game away from the puck constantly moving to find open ice and making himself available for passes…anticipates the flow of the game well…very patient, waiting for plays to develop around him…not quite as advanced in his own end, but he does a good job applying pressure and covering his man…a potential top-six two-way center at the next level.