Despite a disappointing 2015-16 season, MSU Hockey will welcome in potentially its greatest recruiting class of all-time centered around the crown jewel — center Patrick Khodorenko.
Head coach Tom Anastos struck gold when Khodorenko, who’s possibly Anastos’ best recruit in his five years on the Spartans’ bench, announced his commitment on March 31 via Twitter. The 6-foot-0, 196-pound forward from Walnut Creek, Calif., played for the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) for the past two seasons as one of the top 17-18 year old hockey players in the country. Khodorenko compiled 13 points (7-6-13) in 43 regular season games for the USNTDP this season and 33 points (13-20-33) in 55 games in 2014-15.
As one of the top prospects, and considered a potential first round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Khodorenko received plenty of recruiting attention but felt comfortable with MSU. He said his relationship with Anastos from a young age was one of the many reasons he chose MSU.
He recently joined Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. on Spartan Nation Radio to talk about being a Spartan!
“I love the facilities there, it’s a great place to be. Second, I’m going to be getting a great education, and the relationship with the coach was also a pretty deciding factor,” Khodorenko said. “I grew up playing for Honeybaked here in Detroit, (where) I played with Tom Anastos’ kid, Drew, and I got to know him so I kind of felt a relationship there. It’s just a great place to come and play hockey.”
Khodorenko came to Michigan to play hockey for Honeybaked in 2012, but his passion for the game of hockey began while he lived out west. He credits his current success on the ice to the days when he lived in California and constantly worked on his game.
“Growing up in California I spent hours and hours stickhandling in the garage, shooting pucks, going to other skate times, and a lot of other kids didn’t do that,” Khodorenko said. “I guess it’s nice to be appreciated for that now.”
The addition of Khodorenko boosts MSU’s highly touted incoming class to six players. The impressive recruiting class centered around Khodorenko serves as a tool for optimism for a program that experienced a dismal 2015-16 campaign, finishing 10-23-4 and fifth place in the Big Ten.
Khodorenko has a heavy slap shot and considers his vision his best asset of his game. Khodorenko is also very humble despite being a top-caliber prospect. Before attending MSU he is hoping to improve his quickness, most importantly changing directions with speed.
He said his game has been compared to Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, but also believes he is similar to his favorite player; Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk.
“A lot of people tell me I play like Hossa so I guess like him. But my favorite player is (Pavel) Datsyuk and he’s a center too so I guess I kind of model my game after him also. He’s my favorite player by far.”
Although it might be a long shot — especially with reports the Datsyuk is set to retire after this season — Khodorenko hopes one day he’ll get to play with his favorite player in Detroit.
“That would be a dream come true,” Khodorenko said. “That would be awesome to maybe play one season with Datsyuk. That would be awesome.”