Colorado Avalanche: Mikhail Grigorenko Being Ungrateful

Mar 20, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche center Mikhail Grigorenko (25) is seen out on the ice during the pre-game warm-up as they took on the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche center Mikhail Grigorenko (25) is seen out on the ice during the pre-game warm-up as they took on the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche qualified forward Mikhail Grigoreko despite a mediocre season. Grigorenko has filed for salary arbitration.

At the conclusion of the season, I was hoping the Colorado Avalanche would make forward Mikhail Grigorenko a qualifying offer. He had had a mediocre year at best, and had even been scratched for eight games. However, he’s young yet, and I wanted the Avalanche to give him another chance.

In other words, he didn’t necessarily earn a qualifying offer, but I hoped he’d get one anyway.

Colorado made a qualifying offer. And rather than be grateful, Mikhail Grigorenko has elected to  take the team to salary arbitration.

Mikhail Grigorenko Comes to Colorado

On June 26, 2015, the Colorado Avalanche made a trade at the NHL draft. They sent center Ryan O’Reilly and winger Jamie McGinn to the Buffalo Sabres. In return, Colorado got defenseman Nikita Zadorov, prospect J.T. Compher, the #31 draft pick and Grigorenko.

Colorado used the #31 selection to wipe out what defenseman Brad Stuart cost and secured the #39 pick as well. They used that to choose left wing A.J. Greer.

The Avalanche’s struggles with O’Reilly were well-documented. He fought with the team over money for years, even sitting out part of a season and taking them to salary arbitration. They settled at the 11th hour.  In other words, Colorado wanted to get rid of him.

Apparently Zadorov was a problem child for Buffalo, but mostly because of maturity issues. He got suspended by the team twice for missing practices/meetings.

Grigorenko was also a problem for the Sabres. He was a first-round pick, 12th-overall, and apparently he felt that entitled him to a spot on the team. He didn’t play a ton with Buffalo, and when he did, he failed to shine. He started bouncing around between the Sabres and the minors, which apparently didn’t please him.

As he began negotiating contracts with Buffalo, he threatened to go to the KHL if they didn’t offer him a one-way deal.

In other words, Buffalo probably wanted to get rid of Zadorov and, especially, Grigorenko. He came over as a restricted free agent, and Colorado signed him to a one-year, one-way deal worth $675,000.

Grigorenko and Coach Roy

Mikhail Grigorenko spent three years playing for the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL. Two of those years were with Patrick Roy, who coached them before transitioning to the NHL. In those two years, Grigorenko scored 40 goals and earned a total 103 points.

As such, coach Roy was willing to give Grigorenko a chance. Patrick had been watching a little Mikhail’s struggles in Buffalo, and he said at the time he was “surprised” by the forward’s problems.

Last season, Grigorenko even talked to the Denver Post about what a father figure Roy had been in their Remparts days:

"“I was there by myself, it was a new language and he was trying to support me. In my draft year, he was really trying to help me learn English, to get better as a player, to learn different aspects of the game that I didn’t know before.”"

Throughout last season coach Roy seemed to be taking a special interest in Grigorenko. True he scratched him, but Roy was always very clear about what he wanted to see. He gave Mikhail chance after chance to succeed.

Mikhail Grigorenko didn’t always get the top assignments with the Colorado Avalanche — players have to earn that in coach Roy’s system. However, Mikhail did skate with Colorado’s top forwards at times. In the last several games of the season, Grigorenko averaged a little over 16 minutes a game, which isn’t too bad.

Grigorenko finished the season with six goals and 21 assists in 74, which was “good” for 10th on the team.

Mikhail Grigorenko’s Ungrateful Response

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No numbers or terms have leaked for the qualifying offer Colorado made to Grigorenko. He made $675,000 last season, and I doubt the Avalanche offered him any less than that. They may have even tried to be generous and offer him the $925,000 he was promised by the Buffalo Sabres.

Mikhail Grigorenko’s six-goal season with the Colorado Avalanche was technically a career high. However, last year also marked the first time he played a full NHL season.

Grigorenko’s 27 overall points weren’t bad. I don’t know if they were enough for Colorado to make a qualifying offer, especially since the same problems — being an underachiever and lacking an adequate work ethic — that had plagued Mikhail in Buffalo were still in evidence.

However, coach Roy seems committed to continuing to help Grigorenko succeed. He has a long history with this player and obviously believes in him.

In the grander scheme of things, Colorado gave up a really good player in O’Reilly and a solid player in McGinn. Zadorov and two prospects aren’t sufficient return. The Avalanche have to keep Grigorenko in order to win the trade — or at least break even.

In other words, possibly the only reason Grigorenko was even qualified was for adequate return from the trade and because of Roy’s history with him.

And Mikhail Grigorenko, rather than be grateful that an NHL team is still offering him a chance, is taking the Colorado Avalanche to salary arbitration.

Next: Avs with Least Stanley Cup Attitude

It wouldn’t surprise me if he threatened to just go play in the KHL since that’s the tactic he took with the Buffalo Sabres. Unfortunately, the Colorado Avalanche have to play his game because of what they gave up.