Mikhail Grigorenko: Get to Know the Avs’ New Center


The Buffalo Sabres mis-handled center Mikhail Grigorenko’s early career, so the Colorado Avalanche are having to walk a little on eggshells to get full return on the Ryan O’Reilly trade. Today the team just announced that they had signed Grigorenko to a one-year contract for the 2015-16 season. At the time of writing, the terms had not been released.

Grigorenko demonstrated a commitment to playing for the NHL when he came over to play in the QMJHL during the 2011-2012 season. He played for the Quebec Remparts — for current Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy, to be exact. Over two seasons, Grigorenko played 43 games under Roy’s tutelage, earning 70 goals and 69 assists.

That’s a promising bond.

So, let’s see explore what Colorado Avalanche fans are hoping to see from Mikhail Grigorenko in the upcoming season.

Mikhail Grigorenko Statistics

Former team: Buffalo Sabres
Shoots: Left
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 209 pounds
Age: 21

Mikhail Grigorenko has played in just 68 games over three professional seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, which is part of how the team mis-managed his development. (That’s a topic for another post.) In those 68 games, he’s earned just six goals and eight assists and gone -14 in the plus-minus ratio. That’s not promising. However, remember he was playing on a very poor Buffalo Sabres team that was further putting him on poor lines.

Last season Grigorenko played 25 games in the NHL. He scored half of his goals in that time — three — and earned an additional three assists. One of his goals and one of his assists came on the power play.

Grigorenko doesn’t mind shooting the puck. He averages about 1.4 shots per game or 5.5 shots per 60 minutes. That’s something the Avalanche can utilize.

Grigorenko needs to work a bit on his faceoff percentage since he averaged a 46.2 win percentage. He saw an average of 15.16 minutes of ice time last season, which is commiserate with a third-line center like John Mitchell. Grigorenko only earned two penalty minutes through the whole season — he notoriously takes very few penalties.

Mikhail Grigorenko Playing Style

Mikhail Grigorenko is typically European in that he’s all about skill. He’s such a smooth skater, and he has soft hands. In fact, one thing he’s especially known for is threading his passes. He has the potential to put forth great offensive prowess.

Watch Grigorenko make some sick moves in the shootout:

Recognize that? It’s the patented Peter Forsberg shootout move. (Ok, Foppa borrowed it from Swedish hockey legend Kent Nilsson, but never mind — our Peter the Great did it better.)

A nice thing about Grigorenko is he doesn’t just look to make the pretty plays, though he’s certainly capable of it. Here’s an example of him just whacking the puck at the net — and it just so happens to go in:

Ugly goals count the same as pretty ones.

Here’s an example of Grigorenko finishing a play against the Columbus Blue Jackets:

I like this goal because Grigorenko is driving the net. His positioning is good, and he’s not afraid to shoot.

Mikhail Grigorenko’s Role with the Colorado Avalanche

Mikhail Grigorenko came to the Colorado Avalanche as a restricted free agent. Back in June TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that Grigorenko was considering signing a contract with the KHL, partially because he didn’t want a two-way contract with the team. Most likely the Avalanche offered him a one-way contract. He’ll still have to fight for a spot in the lineup, but it’s less likely he’s be sent down to San Antonio and the Rampage.

That said. Mikhail Grigorenko is more likely to make the roster than he was in Buffalo. He’s the big centerman of the type coach Roy favors, and he’s a definite upgrade on the likes of Marc-Andre Cliche. Grigorenko is just young and needs some help developing. He could probably benefit from sharing third-line center duties with John Mitchell or even taking over fourth-line center duties. Add Carl Soderberg and Matt Duchene, both of whom have much more NHL experience than Grigorenko, and he could progress just fine.

I have every expectation that Roy and Sakic wouldn’t have given up Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn if they didn’t think they could sign Mikhail Grigorenko. Over time, they probably expect him to develop into the skilled forward able to lead the attack that his talent and abilities project him to become.

Next: Get to Know Carl Soderberg

Next: Get to Know Nikita Zadorov

Next: Get to Know Blake Comeau

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