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Posts tagged: Evgeny Grachev

Checking In on Evgeny Grachev

Evgeny Grachev was one of the most highly touted Rangers prospects until the club traded him to St. Louis this past June for a third round pick, used on Steven Fogarty. The organization was criticized for “giving up” on Grachev and trading him away for “so little.” We were one of the blogs curious about the trade.  It turned out that Grachev asked for a trade, and that the Rangers had been trying to unload him for a few months.

Fast forward to the preseason, and many were again criticizing the organization as Grachev got off to a hot start for the Blues. He scored two goals in the preseason opener, but was unable to find consistency. Following an up and down preseason, Grachev made the cut for the Blues. Unfortunately, Grachev couldn’t find any kind of offensive flow, and registered just two assists (no goals) in his first 17 games before going on IR with an eye injury.

Yesterday, Grachev was returned to Peoria of the AHL. Meanwhile, Steven Fogarty is lighting up the BCHL, with a line of 16-19-35 in 28 games. Of course it’s only been a few months, and Fogarty is still 4-5 years from the NHL. However, this is now the second club that Grachev has struggled with. Definitely worth noting that. Also worth noting is that the Rangers may have rushed Grachev when they signed him to a deal and moved him up to the AHL at such a young age.

Grachev, RFA, Qualifying Offer Notes

After the draft ended yesterday, Glen Sather was pretty candid about the RFA situations, qualifying offers given, and the Evgeny Grachev trade. Regarding Grachev, it appears he asked out of NY over a year ago, and that the Rangers had been shopping him all year. St. Louis was the only team interested, which severely limits his trade value. That surely explains not only the trade, but the lack of return for a kid with that much potential. It does make you wonder why he wanted out though.

As for the RFAs, Slats stated that all RFAs have been given qualifying offers except for Matt Gilroy. Gilroy QO of $2.3 million was too much for the Rangers, who offered him a separate deal, which he rejected. Gilroy will now hit the open market on July 1. As for the remaining QO’s, the dollar value is as follows:

Artem Anisimov – $803,250
Brian Boyle – $605,000
Ryan Callahan – $2.4 million
Brandon Dubinsky – $2.0 million
Mike Sauer – $550,000

Slats does not expect the Rangers to sign any pending RFAs prior to July 1, which gives them flexibility to go after UFAs, particularly Brad Richards.

Rangers Trade Grachev To St. Louis

In a bit of a shocking deal, the Rangers have dealt Evgeny Grachev, one of their top prospects, to St. Louis in exchange for a third round pick (#72 overall – used on Steve Fogarty). It is very surprising to see the Rangers give up on a 21 year old Grachev so soon. Grachev showed major progress this year in the AHL, and was a dark horse to make the roster this year. Grachev left the OHL early to play professionally in an attempt to jump-start his career. He may have been rushed, but the talent is definitely there.

Don’t forget to follow below for live blogging of the rest of the draft.

The Prospect and Whale Low-down (part 3)

Over the last week we have posted the first two parts of the great Q &A we had between Brian Ring and Bob Crawford from the Connecticut Whale. Check them out here and here. Bob and Brian discussed everything from the best players during their time with the CT organisation to the current crop of promising Rangers prospects. Today is the final part of the series. Enjoy the read, I know I enjoyed it.

Regarding Evgeny Grachev; has his development come on between his first and second years as a pro and how?

Bob: I think Grachev made real good progress last season.  I think he’s a perfect example of that dominant Junior player who found that in the AHL his size, hands and shot would not by themselves let him control games.  He did a much better job this past year of picking up the pace of his game, using his size to protect the puck and disciplining himself to bring a consistent effort every night.  He’ll be a third-year pro next year, and as big as he is, I think he is still in the process of refining his strength from that of a teenager to that of a man.  If he can make some big strides in that area, I think he’ll be a quality NHLer for sure.

Brian: I think he definitely has improved and his scoring totals reflect that, and his plus/minus showed a +34 shift from last year to this year, for whatever that’s really worth. This past year, he definitely adopted a more physical style at times and started to use his frame to drive the net. I think in that regard, he is pretty similar to Anisimov, as once Artie started to use his size his production really started to pick up. Grachev has great size and talent, and once he puts it all together every night he’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.

So many high scoring players in juniors come to the AHL and struggle offensively. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for forwards making the jump?

Bob: I think, more than anything, it’s the speed of the game and the strength of the players.  Guys find themselves with much less time to make a play, much less room, and up against stronger and smarter players, than they were used to in Junior or college.  Some have another level to take it to, and adjust very quickly, some take a year or two, or several years, to figure out how to change their games and achieve success in the AHL, and some, unfortunately, never can make that adjustment, or never can find the will to do so.

Brian: I think it definitely boils down to size and speed. Not exactly ground-breaking analysis, but when you enter this league after playing against teenagers or guys that may not go pro, it can be tough when you run into grown men that have played several years of professional hockey. You aren’t going to have as much time to make a play, or as much space to operate in. Not to mention you probably aren’t playing with players you know or are comfortable with. So factor in all those things and you can understand why there could be an adjustment period.

What are the immediate Rangers chances of the young defensemen that didn’t make the big club last year?

Bob: Tomas Kundratek, to me, has the look of a young colt who is only just figuring out how good he can be.  His skating, size and effort level have me thinking that he is not far away from pushing the NHL.  Pavel Valentenko, if he makes similar strides to last year, will definitely be ready for a look, and it will be interesting to see if Blake Parlett can continue his upward trajectory.

Brian: I think Valentenko could probably step in right now if they needed him to. Yes, I am pretty high on “Tank”. Blake Parlett is probably not far away, I know he’s drawn some comps to Dan Girardi, which would be great. Tomas Kundratek I think is probably a little farther, but another year of development will be great for him, because he did make big strides this year. It will be interesting to see how Michael Del Zotto fits in this year as well, I guess that depends on what happens with New York’s roster and in camp.

Do you think the nucleus of these prospects that start in CT through 11/12 can provide CT with a playoff appearance – and why?

Bob: I definitely think the Whale can be a playoff team again, based on the organization’s overall skill level up front and a young group of D-men having another year of experience.  Hopefully one of the goaltenders will take charge as a 50-60-game dependable backstop…if that happens, I really like how the team could look for the ’11-’12 season.

Brian: Definitely. It’s a skilled bunch and GM Jim Schoenfeld, along with coaches Ken Gernander, J.J. Daigneault and Pat Boller, have done a phenomenal job running this team. I’m very excited to see this years’ team, I think it’s going to be a great crop of prospects and they have as good a chance to make the playoffs and contend as any team does.

Again, a final thanks to Bob Crawford and Brian Ring of the Connecticut Whale for taking their time to provide their unique insight into the Whale and the Rangers prospects. Check back throughout season (and off season) for regular looks at the CT Whale and how the Rangers prospects are doing ‘down on the farm’! Make sure you follow Brian and the Whale on twitter at @brianring and @CTWhale!

 

The Prospect and Whale Low-down (part 2)

Earlier this week we posted the first part of our discussion with Brian Ring and Bob Crawford from the CT Whale. Both men discussed the Connecticut Whale future as well as the prospects that could make their way to the Rangers. Today we have the second part of the discussion with the final part coming in the next few days. Brian and Bob make some really interesting comments throughout the interview and give some attention to some prospects that a lot of readers may not have on their radars for the coming season. Happy reading.

 

Which prospect do you think has the most to prove at training camp next summer?

Bob: I don’t know if you would call him a prospect or an NHLer who experienced a hiccup, but to me Michael Del Zotto is in a position really to help himself at camp.  It’s a new start after sort of a humbling second year of pro, and with what he can contribute on the power play, if he rediscovers a significant bit of his rookie mojo, I think he could easily put himself right back into the mix.

Brian: Evgeny Grachev. I think this is a huge year for him, even though he is still young. It will be important for him to put it all together on a consistent basis, everyone knows that the talent and skill are there. Whether or not he makes the team out of camp, I think it’s important that he puts people on notice and really, I think he will, I think it’s going to be a big production year for him.

With all the new signings and expired contracts, it looks like there is going to be significant roster turnover this summer for the Whale. How does that affect the offseason plans?

Bob: That kind of thing, I find, doesn’t have that much effect on the AHL club.  The affiliate is almost always more affected by who steps up in camp as a surprise to grab a spot, or what kind of injuries or salary cap issues the parent team runs into.  Most AHL veterans, like Jeremy Williams for example, are under one-year contracts, so you naturally expect those guys to come and go as the years go by.

Brian: I don’t think it really changes anything, that kind of turnover is really just a fact of life in this league. Every year we seem to start off with a younger and younger team but they pull together and play winning hockey. Having a young core might mean bringing in a few veterans to complement the presence of Kris Newbury and (likely) Wade Redden, whether that means qualifying John Mitchell or signing another AHL free agent or two. As far as how it affects the front office here directly, it means more tweeting, Facebook posts and press releases, which is always a good thing for public relations exposure and getting the Whale brand out there.

Is there any new signing or acquisition that you are particularly excited to see play for the Whale next season?

Bob: After watching what he was able to help the U.S. National Junior Team achieve, knowing his bloodlines and having seen his older brother play very effectively in the AHL, and knowing his Junior accomplishments, I am eager to see what kind of pro player Ryan Bourque can be, if he ends up with the Whale.

Brian: I’m pretty excited to see Carl Hagelin play a full season as I’m sure many fans of Rangers prospects are. We only got to see him in a couple playoff games last year since he helped take Michigan to the Frozen Four, but he looked good in that limited action. Also excited to see Ryan Bourque and Tim Erixon, should those guys play here next season. I don’t want to omit anybody because I always like seeing prospects come in, but those are just the guys that come to mind first.

 

Again, a big thanks to Bob Crawford and Brian Ring of the Connecticut Whale for taking their time to provide their unique insight into the Whale and the Rangers prospects. Check back throughout the week for more great insight about the Rangers biggest prospects and how the guys at the Whale expect the AHL club and their prospects to fare during the coming season! Make sure you follow Brian and the Whale on twitter at @brianring and @CTWhale!

Rangers Prospects Stepping Up For the Whale

A season of promise at every level for the Rangers organisation seems to be continuing for the prospects. Recently signed to short term contracts following their junior seasons, 2010 top pick Dylan McIlrath and fellow draftee Andrew Yogan have already made their presence felt in the AHL.

In their first pro game they couldn’t have made more of an impression. Injured for most of the year, Yogan made a spectacular impact scoring twice even though the Whale lost to Bridgeport on Saturday night, 4-3. Not to be outdone however was McIlrath. The big defenseman got into a fight, which he won, and was a laying numerous hits throughout the game to play a very physical game in his pro debut. Both young players showed remarkable confidence and ability in their pro debuts. Indeed, Mitch Beck of Howlings noted that he was very impressed with McIlrath’s play.

While the Whale lost their regular season finale to the Admirals on Sunday, Yogan once more found a way to get involved offensively. The big center notched an assist to cap his minor league cameo off in impressive style. Overall the Rangers pick grabbed 3 points in 2 games and went +1. In the Admiral game, McIlrath had a shot and was -1 for the night. Other prospects also pitched in during the game. Pavel Valentenko (not to be forgotten amid all the rookie defensemen hysteria in New York) had 1+1 to finish the year with 17 points and an excellent +21 for the year. Some opinions suggest he may get a long look in training camp for the Rangers. At 6’2 and 220lbs, with a cannon of a shot and a physical game, Valentenko would be a welcome addition if he could make the grade next year.

Quietly having a solid second year is Evgeny Grachev. He may not have dominated at the AHL level or even managed to keep up with the (unfair?) level of expectancy but Grachev notched an assist against Norfolk to finish the year with 38 points, a +21 (compared to a – 13 the year before) and more shots in less games over the year so there has been decent progress made this season. With the few games of NHL experience he managed to grab, Grachev should be well stocked to make an impact next year, perhaps at both levels. 2 years of pro seasoning, further acclimatising to the language and being carefully monitored by Rangers staff should really allow for a decent camp for the big Russian. There could be a spot there for the taking.

Still on the Rangers bubble is Dale Weise. In a season where Weise played in the NHL and AHL as well as suffering through injury he managed to finish with 38 points in 47 games to make sure everyone remembers the big body has an offensive side to his game. Weise should have a chance at a bottom 6 roster spot next camp but he will need to be wary of the prospects fast developing in the organisation also looking for spots.

Playoff Time

The Whale will begin their playoff schedule against Portland in the first round. Game 1 will be on Thursday 14th while the first two games are held in Portland. It will be an upset if the Whale can win (similar to the Rangers series vs. Washington) as Portland finished top of both teams’ division with an impressive 47 win, 103 point season. Portland will likely be led by Luke Adam and NHL veteran Mark Parrish as two of the team’s better offensive players are up with the Sabres in the NHL playoffs. It should be an interesting series to see how the Rangers prospects step up against quality opposition.

Grachev Returned To CT

With the news that Brandon Dubinsky will likely play tonight, the Rangers returned Evgeny Grachev to the CT Whale (via the AHL transaction log). Grachev was due to be in the lineup tonight, skating with Kris Newbury and Chris Drury. However, with Dubinsky in the lineup, Grachev is better served as playing in the AHL than as a healthy scratch. Grachev was initially called up because the Rangers needed players to fill out the roster with all the injuries. The 20 year old winger played well in his second call up this year, but he is still a little raw, and needs more time to develop into a full time NHL player.

Rangers Recall Del Zotto, Grachev, Newbury

With the second “half” of the season kicking off tomorrow, the Rangers recalled some bodies to help fill out the roster to deal with the injuries. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto, and forwards Evgeny Grachev and Kris Newbury have been recalled by the club. For the last game before the break, the Rangers had three forwards (Grachev, Newbury, Chad Kolarik) in the lineup who were returned to Hartford the next day. With the club only recalling two, it likely means that Ryan Callahan’s hand is okay, and he will be back in the lineup for tomorrow night’s game.

The recall of Del Zotto is either an insurance policy, or it means that Dan Girardi’s ribcage hasn’t fully healed yet. Del Zotto hasn’t been a liability in his brief recall, so let’s hope he can keep up the strong play.

Roster Moves: Five Players Back To Connecticut; Callahan, Prospal Activated.

According to Andrew Gross, the Rangers are going to use the NHL All-Star break as a chance to allow many of the recent recalled players to go back to the Connecticut Whale and continue playing.  Here is what he had to say during his recap of last night’s loss:

Defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forwards Evgeny Grachev, Brodie Dupont, Chad Kolarik and Kris Newbury will be rejoining Connecticut tomorrow. Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi are expected back for the Rangers home game against the Penguins Tuesday but there will likely be some forwards brought back to the NHL club.

This move is the right one for the present and future of all the individual players and the organization.  Players like Del Zotto and Grachev are at a stage where they need to play as many games and minutes as possible.  Both of these players looked better than they did the last time they were up with the Rangers, but there is still significant work ahead for them to be here regularly.  Del Zotto is certainly closer than Grachev to reaching that marker, but the defense also has significantly less injuries at the moment and all six that are here have clearly outperformed him.

Along with the moves to send these five back to the AHL, the New York Rangers also activated Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal from IR.  The news on Callahan is that he is expected to be back for the game against the Penguins, which will be a huge lift to the club.  Dan Girardi is also expected to be back after missing the last two games with a rib injury.

The news on Propsal is less clear as it has seemed to be all season.  The reason for the activation seems to be the Rangers needing a 20th player on the active roster in order to send all five players back to Connecticut and not because he is that close to returning.  The news on Prospal is encouraging, but do not expect him to be in the lineup on Tuesday as many originally surmised from the news he was being activated.

As Gross said, some of these players will likely be back before the team plays its next game on Tuesday against the Penguins, but do not expect them all to return.  If Callahan is the only Rangers forward to return to the lineup after this break than I would expect Newbury to definitely return with the other spot likely going to Kolarik.  I do not see the need to carry an extra young player as a scratch consistently when they can play in the AHL and continue their development.

Any players that are going to be recalled will likely happen either on Sunday or Monday.

This morning Chris took a look what to do with Mats Zuccarello once the injuries end and those players return.

I took a slightly different approach than Chris did in looking at the roster announcements made and how the fact that Zuccarello not being among them said, even if unofficially, Zuke was here to stay.

Del Zotto, Grachev Up; Weise Down

The Rangers made a few roster moves after last night’s win against Atlanta. With the injuries to Dan Girardi and Brandon Prust, the Rangers recalled Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev. To make room on the roster, the Rangers returned Dale Weise to the AHL. Weise was a healthy scratch in last night’s game, and had looked a little out of place in his second stint with the Rangers this season.

Grachev and MDZ had been lighting up the AHL, and both look prime for a call up to get a second chance with the club. Even if the call up is temporary, both have earned it. Both players look to have put their slow starts behind them, and appear to have found their game. Of course, this call up is dependent on the severity of the Girardi and Prust injuries. All signs point to both being back after the All Star Game, so this may be a quick two game cameo appearance for both players.