If anyone will give Mikhail Grigorenko the benefit of the doubt, it’s Patrick Roy.
The fiery Colorado Avalanche head coach was Grigorenko’s bench boss with the QMJHL’s Quebec Ramparts in 2011-12 and 2012-13, his best days with that team. The 2011-12 campaign stands out in particular: 85 points in 59 games, a run that likely inspired the Buffalo Sabres to select him 12th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft.
With that in mind, it’s not too surprising that the 21-year-old told the Denver Post that he’s thrilled to play for Roy again, this time with the Avs.
“I can’t wait for the opportunity to have him as a coach again,” Grigorenko said. “I had my best years in Quebec and it was great having Patrick as a coach. He was great to me and taught me a lot of things on and off the ice. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me already, and I can’t wait to have him as a coach again.”
It’s probably an understatement to say that Grigorenko needed this change of scenery in the form of being traded from the Buffalo Sabres (and signing a one-year deal reportedly at $675K).
He’s going to a place where his coach could vouch for him, which stands in contrast to Buffalo, where people wondered why Grigorenko was “afraid” of signing a two-way deal and former head coach Ted Nolan slammed his efforts as “lackadaisical.”
Back in March, Roy stood up for the struggling prospect, praising his skills and hockey sense to the Buffalo News.
While some will judge Grigorenko as part of the Ryan O’Reilly trade package, his cheap contract strengthens the argument that the Avalanche are making a low-risk move here. If optimism makes any difference, Roy may very well help Colorado strike quite the bargain.
Sergei Zubov, one of the greatest Russian defensemen in NHL history, has been named an assistant on head coach Oleg Znarok’s Russian national team staff.
More, from IIHF.com:
Zubov will help the national team in their preparation for the next IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships including the 2016 edition on home ice in Moscow and St. Petersburg, for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
He will specifically be responsible for defencemen and will combine his duties with the national team and his club team SKA St. Petersburg.
Zubov, 44, appeared in over 1000 NHL games over a 12-year career with stops in New York, Pittsburgh and Dallas. He won a pair of Cups with both the Rangers and Stars and is one of just a handful of defensemen in league history to record 70-plus assists in a single season — he recorded 77 during the ’93-94 campaign, 12th-most all-time.
This appointment promises to be a good one for Russia, which has struggled to produce NHL-caliber defensemen in recent years. Zubov, a Norris Finalist in 2006, will now get to work with a young, albeit small, crop of promising prospects and youngsters that includes Philly’s Ivan Provorov, Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov and Florida’s Dmitri Kulikov.
The Colorado Avalanche signed Mikhail Grigorenko – a significant part of the Ryan O’Reilly trade – to a one-year contract on Thursday.
This isn’t official, but word from Bleacher Report’s Adrian Dater is that the contract is one-way and worth $675K.
As you may remember, the Buffalo Sabres weren’t pleased that Grigorenko insisted on a one-way deal, so that factor is pretty significant. The 21-year-old was part of a trade package that also sent the 31st pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, Nikita Zadorov and J.T. Compher from Buffalo to Colorado.
The 12th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft endured a bumpy start with the Buffalo organization, as he struggled at the NHL level with the Sabres but put up often-impressive numbers in the QMJHL and AHL over the years.
Grigorenko probably needed a fresh start, and Colorado could very well be a nice fit for the Russian. His development will likely play a key role in how that trade his viewed a few years down the line.
The Buffalo Sabres have re-upped with RFA blueliner Mark Pysyk on a two-year, $2.25 million deal, per CBC.
Pysyk, 23, just wrapped his entry-level deal with Buffalo — he was the club’s first-round pick (23rd overall) in 2010 — but only appeared in seven games for the Sabres last year, spending most of the season in AHL Rochester before collapsing during a pickup basketball game in February.
(Pysyk, once medically cleared, did return to play three games for the Amerks at the end of the season.)
This new deal has a $1.125M cap hit, and Pysyk will carry that into next season looking to become a full-time NHLer. He appeared in 44 games during the ’13-14 campaign, but was dispatched to the AHL last year to work on his game; Pysyk’s chances of sticking with Buffalo in ’15-16 should be aided by the fact three regulars from last year — Nikita Zadorov, Andrej Meszaros, Andre Benoit — are no longer with the club.
That said, GM Tim Murray did bring in a trio of veteran presences in Matt Donovan, Carlo Colaiacovo and Bobby Sanguinetti this offseason.
If Buffalo Sabres fans are disappointed about their team landing Jack Eichel instead of Connor McDavid, they have a funny way of showing it.
More than 17,000 people – the Buffalo News pegs it at 17,115 – showed up to watch the Sabres scrimmage on Friday night. That’s a crowd that exceeds some NHL arena’s capacities to witness low-importance hockey in July.
(Italics seemed appropriate in a case like this.)
Even Dan Byslma, Stanley Cup-winner, was taken aback as onlookers “jammed around the rink.”
WGRZ reports that Eichel said he wasn’t surprised when hundreds showed up for a development camp practice back on Monday, but this is a pretty impressive turnout by any measure.
Fans shared a few shots of the surprising atmosphere: