With Claude Julien’s job in jeopardy, others are starting to take shots at the highly successful Bruins head coach.
According to a report by Sport-Express hockey writer Igor Eronko, Alex Khokhlachev's agent is blaming Julien for “not giving his client a chance” at the NHL level, and further indicated that the Bruins “disrupted all the possible deals” involving the Russian forward, who is clearly looking for an NHL opportunity elsewhere.
Furthermore, Khokhlachev’s agent wouldn’t rule out the center returning to Russia now that his entry-level contract is set to expire. SKA Saint Petersburg holds Koko’s KHL rights.
Khokhlachev, 22, is in the midst of his best AHL season with 23 goals and 66 points in 57 games for the Providence Bruins. But he's scoreless in 11 NHL games in Boston over the last three years with a minus-4 rating. Khokhlachev simply hasn’t been good enough in his NHL auditions or during any of his training camps with the Bruins, who wanted him to win the fourth-line center job two years ago.
Part of the problem with the former second-ropund pick is that he needs to be a top-6 center in the NHL if he’s going to truly be effective and the 5-foot-10, 181-pounder will forever be blocked at that position in Boston by Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. The other part of the problem is Khokhlachev has yet to show the requisite speed or strength to truly excel at the NHL level despite his success in the American League. But he also hasn’t exactly been given a truly extensive look by the Black and Gold.
That’s where Khokhlachev’s frustration toward the Bruins coaching comes in, and helps perpetuate Julien’s mixed bag reputation when it comes to developing young players.