Player: Patrick Khodorenko
Height: 6’0” Weight: 207 lbs.
Team: Michigan State(Big Ten)
Final NHL Central Scouting: 106th among North American skaters
What I Like
Strong upper body
Khodorenko is a really strong forward with good upper body strength. He has the ability to fight off defenders with the puck, gain position in front of the net, and win one-on-one puck battles.
This, combined with decent puck skills gives Khodorenko some intriguing offensive upside.
Good NCAA numbers
Khodorenko tallied 7-11-18 in 35 games for Michigan State this past season. That may not seem like a lot, but it was a very respectable 35th nationally among drafted/draft eligible freshman. It’s not easy for a player to play college hockey at that young of an age and have success. Khodorenko wasn’t dominant by any stretch, but held his own and scored at about the rate one would expect for an NHL Draft pick his age.
What I Don’t Like
There was a time when Khodorenko was one of the top players for his age group. He was selected 26th overall in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, and likely would have been taken higher had he committed to the WHL route. Some, in the most unofficial of capacities, even suggested his name as the possible #1 overall pick in this Draft at that young age.
Since then, Khodorenko’s development has slowed dramatically. He was okay in his first season with the NTDP, and then completely fell off the map in his second season with the Program.
The fact that Khodorenko started so far ahead of the pack, and so many players have now caught and passed him doesn’t bode well for him someday developing into one of the best players in this group. It’s not completely unheard of for it to happen, but is pretty unlikely.
Slow foot speed
One of the big reasons Khodorenko has failed to be as productive in recent years is that his skating is a major weakness. When he was younger, his burly size was enough to compensate, but he struggled to keep up as his competition got faster. He lacks the quickness and foot speed to create much on his own offensively, and he sometimes struggles defensively because of it.
With the analytics movement in hockey, there’s a lot of attention placed on stats and numbers. But where good scouting is really important, is having people that can put context to numbers. Khodorenko is a player whose success as a first-year-draft-eligible playing in the NCAA suggests that he should probably be drafted. But 12 months ago, Khodorenko fell completely off the draft radar when he struggled with the NTDP, and missed the World U18s due to injury
So then the big question becomes: Did Khodorenko really improve that much over the past year, or he did he just get a lot of good opportunities playing for a Michigan State that was low on talent?
Personally, I would lean towards the latter and likely wouldn’t use a pick on him, but I can also see the other side of it, and wouldn’t be surprised if some team didn’t take a late-round flyer on Khodorenko
Though he has already played one year of NCAA hockey, Khodorenko will be a project pick that is a long ways from paying off, if he does. He’ll return to Michigan State next year where he’ll be reunited with his NTDP coach Danton Cole next season. If Khodorenko can improve his skating, he has the size and strength to play a number of different roles at the pro level. He’s playing center now, but with his skating, he’ll likely move to the wing in the pros. Even though he has some offensive talent, it’s highly unlikely he develops into a top six forward, but could provide a little bit of offense in a third or fourth line role some day.