The expansion draft protection lists were released over the weekend, and the Colorado Avalanche made a mistake in exposing Mikhail Grigorenko.
I understand that the Colorado Avalanche may have had some tough decisions with the expansion draft; however their one tough decision should have been off the table as soon as Francois Beauchemin was bought out.
The expansion draft protection list should have been a no-brainer from there. Unfortunately, the Avalanche made a bone-headed move by exposing Mikhail Grigorenko.
The NHL Awards Show starts at 6:00pm MST on Wednesday night, and the Avs are likely to lose Grigo to the Las Vegas Golden Knights, getting absolutely nothing in return.
Even if they have no intention of bringing him back next season, they should have still protected him for the value he may have as a prospect in a trade. Instead, they protected Blake Comeau and Rocco Grimaldi.
Mikhail Grigorenko Could Be Valuable Trade Asset
The Vegas Knights are likely to choose one of either Mikhail Grigorenko, Calvin Pickard or Mark Barberio. They are the youngest, the cheapest and they have the most upside.
Out of that list, Mikhail Grigorenko is the most likely to be drafted. The Knights strategy likely revolves around acquiring young players to take a chance on, a mix of a few veterans and then valuable players they can trade for more picks and assets.
While Calvin Pickard is a great option to be a back up to Marc-Andre Fleury, there are better goalie options available. Regardless, the Avs should have protected Pickard too. There’s no way Vegas would take both Semyon Varlamov and Fleury, who would combine for nearly 12 million of Vegas’ cap hit. That’s another story though:
Taking a chance on Grigorenko makes more sense for the Knights. He’s still only 23 years old, and won’t be 24 until the end of next season. He had a career year for goals scored this year as well, with 10. And, he’s a former top 15 overall draft pick.
The talent is there, and he may still put it all together and have a breakout season. Even if he doesn’t, he’s a more than capable third line center in the making. These are the types of guys Vegas will be wanting to take a chance on. That means there are probably still some other teams out there willing to take a shot on Grigorenko.
The Avs, at the very least, could have used Grigo to tip the trade so a team felt comfortable making it. They could have also used him to get a third round draft pick back.
What’s most disconcerting is the players the Avs chose to protect over Grigorenko.
Protecting Rocco Grimaldi and Blake Comeau Makes No Sense
Rocco Grimaldi certainly suits the new style of play the Avalanche are preaching — speed and skill — but his experience in the NHL is rather short. He’s only played 31 NHL games, and he hasn’t been the most productive, with just four goals and seven total points.
Nonetheless, Grimaldi certainly looked like a player on the rise at the end of the season with the Avalanche. So, I can see why they protected him, and that’s fine. They could have still protected Grimaldi and Grigorenko.
The real qualm I have with their protection scheme is the choice to throw Blake Comeau a bone. He’s been a great veteran for the team, and he’s definitely a hard worker. He might have been a guy the Knights would have been interested in; however, he doesn’t have much value on the trade market, so it’s not like the Avs would have been losing much with him.
More from Mile High Sticking
- Could Colorado Avalanche move on from Pavel Francouz next offseason?
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- Colorado Avalanche make sneaky signing with Tatar
- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog could return in 2023-24 playoffs
- Colorado Avalanche rookie face-off tournament roster
This is particularly true when you consider the fact that they are trying to transition into becoming a younger and faster team. Comeau is now 31 years old, and while he skates hard, he’s not the fastest. Furthermore, even if Vegas did take Comeau, the Avs would still have found some nice cap relief in the form of 2.4 million.
I believe he will still be useful on the third line, and he’s a great pro to have in the locker room with a bunch of young guys. That does not mean the Avs should have taken the risk of losing Grigorenko over losing Comeau. It’s quite clearly poor asset management, and I believe the Avs will come to regret this mistake.
Mikhail Grigorenko is not the fastest skater, although he does possess a ton of skill. He hasn’t proven he can play top line or second line minutes in the NHL yet, but there is still time.
Even if he never develops into that player, he’s still a serviceable third line center a team lacking center depth would love to get their hands on. Maybe that’s why he was exposed. The Avalanche are clearly packed at the center position, and wing hasn’t really worked for Grigorenko.
However, the Avs should have at least protected him so they could use him as a trade piece. He’s not going to bring home much on his own. Including him as a prospect could help to make a trade happen though.
One last thing to consider, and I don’t know if this will really be a factor, but let’s just consider it:
What will Nikita Zadorov think of signing with the Avalanche organization if Grigorenko is swooped by Vegas because they didn’t protect him? There are already rumblings of him making an exodus to the KHL. Could his close friend he came over from Buffalo with be the excuse he needs to decline signing with the Avalanche? Just one last thing to consider.
Hopefully the Vegas Knights pass over Grigorenko. If they don’t, the Avs are losing a valuable trade piece, and they could lose a lot more.