The only member of the 2018 Minnesota Wild draft class to make the top 10 under 25 list is center Alexander Khovanov, who comes in at number eight.
With that 86th overall pick the Wild took a center with high offensive upside, a common theme among Paul Fenton‘s draft picks in his brief tenure as the Wild general manager.
Khovanov, 19, possesses all the offensive skills you would want in a center. Great shot, hands, vision. He has been part of a lethal power play with the Moncton Wildcats, with 33 of his 74 points last season coming via the man advantage.
There is a bit of an edge to Khovanov’s game, as he loves to get physical at times in addition to his great offense. His 94 penalty minutes was the most on Moncton last season, edging out fellow teammate Dylan Seitz with 88.
In the 10 playoff games Moncton played in 2019, Khovanov tallied 10 points (six goals, four assists) which ranked third on the team.
Khovanov signed his three-year entry-level contract with Minnesota on March 19 this past season. Following the conclusion to Moncton’s season, he did get some time with the Iowa Wild in their postseason run, but he never appeared in a game. The Saratov, Russia native still has one year of eligibility left in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), but the Wild will ultimately determine if he is to return or go to Iowa and continue his development.
However, on Aug. 27, the Wild announced that Khovanov had a procedure to remove a benign tumor in his left leg and would be sidelined four to six weeks. It caused him to miss the Traverse City Prospect Tournament that Minnesota is currently participating in, and puts him on track to return in late September/early October.
It could be more likely now that Khovanov returns to Moncton for his final season in the QMJHL rather than get off to a rocky start in Iowa as he would miss most if not all of training camp should he go to the AHL instead. But for the moment, his destination remains to be seen.
Time will ultimately tell how the 2018 draft class for the Minnesota Wild and Fenton will be remembered, but as of this moment, Khovanov stands out as the prospect with the best potential to reach the NHL with his offensive skills.
Perhaps a future line combination with fellow Russian Kirill Kaprizov is on the horizon?