It’s been a long and winding road for Moncton Wildcats import star and Minnesota Wild Prospect Alexander Khovanov.
From serious illness at the start of his Wildcat career to surgery on a benign tumour on his leg this season, Alexander Khovanov has faced a tremendous amount of adversity off the ice early on in his young promising career.
“I found out in late June,” the Saratov, Russia product said when asked about the initial diagnosis earlier this year.
The highly skilled competitive center tried to take the horrible news in stride.
“I wasn’t worried cause the doctor said what needed to be done and that it would all be ok,” confessed Khovanov.
The surgery, was performed at the University of Minnesota which removed an Osteoid Osteoma from Khovanov’s left leg. Initial reports had the nineteen year old requiring four to six weeks for recovery.
Unfortunately the Wildcats number one center is all too familiar with health scares.
Two seasons ago Khovanov battled Hepatitis which caused him to miss half of his rookie season in the most important year of his life, his NHL Draft year.
“When I come to CHL and having missed half the season I knew that the first round of NHL Draft was not possible.”
“I tried to play the best I could to hopefully get drafted,” admitted Khovanov.
Khovanov was certainly relieved when he finally heard his name called on the the second day of NHL Draft.
“I was very happy when Minnesota drafted me in the 3rd round,” Khovanov said.
One could only imagine the gamut of emotions that Khovanov experienced this time around when confronted with more health issues.
From a far Alexander Khovanov is often labelled by critics as being selfish or arrogant.
If we have learned anything about the offensively gifted player over his time with the Cats it’s his competitive fire and will to win.
Khovanov approached his recovery with the same sense of determination, commitment and competitive spirit.
The young Russian returned ahead of schedule and has been on a tear ever since.
“I would have really liked to participate in the rookie tournament and then attend main camp,” confessed Khovanov.
“I was able to participate in practices at main camp, but was not cleared to play games.”
Through it all Khovanov has tried to embrace his wild ride over the past few seasons.
“It’s made me a better person,” said Khovanov.
“Having faced adversity will help me face it in the future. I feel very good now and can face any challenges ahead,” confessed Khovanov.
We often forget the enormous sense of pressure that is felt among imports trying to apply their craft across the Canadian Hockey League.
Language issues, adapting to a entirely new country and culture has to be very taxing.
Just imagine two health scares being thrown on top of that situation and how difficult that had to be for Khovanov.
In 9 games this season the skilled play maker has 5 goals and 12 assists and is a +11.
It’s evident that Khovanov has bought into John Torchetti’s system, but there is still tons of work to be done.
“I’m really working in every aspect of my game, being more consistent and focused on the details of the game at both ends of the ice,” explained Khovanov.
“I want to help my team and teammates achieve success this year.”
The Minnesota Wild Prospect has certainly done that.
“It’s always fun to play with Alex,” said Wildcats scoring sensation Jeremy McKenna.
“His vision and skill is off the charts. His ability to find the open man is next level. He loves the game and has so much passion, he is always working on his game in practice,” explained McKenna who recently returned to the Wildcats after being sent down to the ECHL’s Kanas City Mavervick’s.
Khovanov’s play making ability had the Cats power play clicking at 3rd overall in the QMJHL.
“Havy is a tremendous player,” said Calgary Flames Prospect and Wildcats Captain Jakob Pelletier.
“His ability to make plays and to see everything on the ice is exceptional.”
“It’s so easy to play with him because you know that the pass will always be on the tape,” explained Pelletier.
“He’s an elite player and I love to play with him.”
The Moncton Wildcats seem poised to go all in and make a legitimate run at a President Cup and Memorial Cup this season.
There’s no question Alexander Khovanov could very well be the “X Factor” in any championship aspirations.
“I think we have a good chance to win, if we play the right way,” Khovanov said.
“We have a good team and good coaches. I always want to win and I would love to win before I’m done my Junior career,” stressed Khovanov.
Khovanov’s dream may very well become reality.
Some would suggest that we still haven’t seen Alexander Khonanov’s best hockey.
So does the young Russian offensive star feel the pressure of high expectations and pressure to win?
“I don’t feel pressure, I love to win, and love to play the game.”
“I feel the best I have felt since I’ve arrived in the CHL and I’m happy that I can now perform at my best.”
“I would like to help bring a championship to the Wildcats fans.”
It’s been a wild ride for Alexander Khovanov, in the QMJHL, but it would appear that the Russian import is well on his way to be a difference maker on a championship caliber team.