The Minnesota Wild have inked forward prospect Alexander Khovanov to a three-year entry-level contract. The deal will kick in for next season, and Khovanov will remain with the Moncton Wildcats for the rest of this year. The Wildcats are about to start their first round QMJHL playoff series later this week.
Khovanov, 18, fell all the way to the third round last June after a so-so debut in North America. In 41 games during the 2017-18 season he recorded 35 points for the Wildcats, but didn’t make quite the impression that fellow Russian phenom Andrei Svechnikov did. The two had been picked first and second overall in the CHL import draft, but with Svechnikov’s experience in the USHL he was much more prepared for North American hockey. There was also the fact that Khovanov contracted hepatitis A and missed a good chunk of development time.
Still, there was plenty of reason to be excited if you were a Minnesota fan and Khovanov made good on his offensive promise by tallying 74 points in 64 games in his second go round. The fact that he has already signed his entry-level contract should quell any anxiety about him returning to Russia, at least without consent from the Wild.
There may be reason to have the prospect play overseas next season, if the team doesn’t think he has much to learn from the CHL. Turning 19 next month he will likely dominate the junior circuit in 2019-20 if given the chance, something that may not be best for his development. Either way he’ll be a name to keep close watch of at training camp and throughout next year.