Long and stressful. That is the best way to describe how the draft has gone so far for the Minnesota Wild. After selecting Filip Johansson 24th overall back in the 1st round, we had to wait until the 3rd round until the next pick was made under Paul Fenton. During the time the other teams were making picks, the Wild had to think long and hard about who they would draft next. Not having a pick in the 2nd round can be a huge disadvantage, but the Wild would make up for it in the 3rd round having 3 picks. After taking Jack McBain 63rd overall, the Wild once again had another choice at 86.
With that being said, the Minnesota Wild select Alexander Khovanov with the 86th pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
The sky has always been the limit for Khovanov. The 5’11” center from Saratov, Russia has dominated in every league he has played in growing up. Khovanov was even selected No. 2 overall in the 2017 CHL Import Draft. The only person drafted ahead of him was this year’s No. 2 pick Andrei Svechnikov. Khovanov was even projected a legit first-round pick in this upcoming draft. This past season, Khovanov notched 28 points in just 29 games with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL. Khovanov played on a line with Grigori Denisenko and Andrei Svechnikov at this year’s Five Nations Tournament. The three of them were amazing in the tournament.
However, Khovanov’s season was cut short due to contracting hepatitis A while on vacation in the Dominican Republic last summer. It is hard to tell if Khovanov was at his best during those 29 games he played. To offer some relief to us Wild fans, he recorded 18 points in the final 15 games of the regular season while also picking up an additional 7 points in 12 playoff games.
Another injury that Khovanov dealt with that limited his playing time was an ankle injury back during the 2016-2017 season. This pick by the Wild is a huge long shot because of his recent injury and health concerns. Will he pan out, or will he never make it up to the big leagues?
To rebound from his illness, Khovanov proved to all the scouts that he still has it. During the combine, one of the hardest and most grueling drills, the Wingate bike test, Khovanov would place in the top four out of all the prospects. Pretty good stuff if you ask me.
Alexander Khovanov Stats
Corey Pronman on Khovanov: “A top performer in his age group for years, Khovanov has quick hands, but the attribute that drives his value is his hockey sense.”— Jake Jensen (@myhockeyeyes) June 23, 2018
He’s a wildcard with loads of skill. The big thing will be for him to stay healthy to continue his development. Future Considerations isn’t completely enamored with his overall “want-to” but he certainly has skill that scouts think could have gone in the first round. Reminds you of the Dmitri Skolov situation.
The Wild don’t have to fear of another potential Kirill Kaprizov situation as Khovanov is already in North America. Playing for Moncton in the QMJHL, his vision, even not at full strength, was ever present as he should amazing playmaking ability. He could be a real steal in the third round if he can stay healthy to develop.
He’s the third Russian player to be selected by the Wild going back to Kaprizov, and Svetlakov just last year. For a team that was so gun-shy on drafting Russian players, this has been a big-time change in philosophy.