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Posts tagged: Evgeny Grachev

Signs of Life from Grachev

While the Rangers lost 2-1 to Tampa Bay on Saturday, a key prospect was showing signs of life in Connecticut. Young Russian forward Evgeny Grachev scored 1 and added 2 assists for a career high 3 point (pro) game as the Connecticut Whale scored a 6-2 victory over Providence on New Year’s Day.

The game was a huge one personally for Grachev. Too often a passenger in his second pro season, Grachev has seen Dale Weise and Mats Zuccarello get (deserved) preference for playing time in New York this season. With four shots in the victory against the Baby Bruins, Grachev was involved all game as it wasn’t merely the case of a lucky goal or errant shot being Grachev’s offensive output. Grachev has now scored 5 goals and 10 points this season so he is still a long way from being a go-to offensive performer for the Whale but the events that saw him slip behind Weise and Zuccarello in the queue for New York should present an opportunity for the big Russian.

The 3 point night could be the break out game many hoped would come for Grachev but if it isn’t the absence of the other two key Whale forwards should mean extensive playing time, should mean extensive power play time (all 3 of his points versus the Bruins were with the man advantage) and should mean an opportunity to go on a run. The big Russian has all the skills and size needed to become a good NHL’er and has flashed it at times during his time as a pro but this may be his best opportunity thus far to make an impact. The Whale need him to fill a void – right now – while the Rangers could do with him becoming the draft steal that many have predicted so there is indeed plenty of pressure. We’ll get a potential glimpse into the future of Grachev over the next month or so.

Grachev To The Wolf Pack The Right Thing To Do.

There are a few differences between the situations of Derek Stepan and Evgeny Grachev. The Rangers did the right thing when they sent down Grachev yesterday because despite showing willing he wasn’t ready for NHL play. So what are the differences between the two players’ situations? Firstly Stepan has shown he can contribute offensively and Grachev hasn’t. 3 shots in 6 games is not enough even though his ice time hampered his chance to show his offensive game (as did his line mates). On the other hand Stepan showed he can contribute with an array of line mates and has shown that even when not putting up numbers he can play responsibly. Can the same be said for the Russian? Not quite. Then there is the not so small fact that Grachev is still acclimatising to other aspects of North American life including the language and the style of play. It’s easy to forget that this is still only his third year in North America so allowing him to adapt in an environment such as Hartford where the expectancy and spotlight is much less is the safer, responsible thing to do. Many prospects have wilted under the bright lights of NYC before.

Then there’s the harsh but true fact that Grachev didn’t really deserve a call up in the first place. He was inconsistent in Hartford last year and he hadn’t exactly lit up the AHL this time around either. On the other hand, Derek Stepan had an excellent year in the NCAA for Wisconsin and followed that up with an impressive camp. In short, Stepan’s play demanded that he stick around. Grachev is not a bust by any means. Some people will see his play (since leaving Brampton of the OHL) as a regression but consider all the factors that he is dealing with and the fact power forward types take longer to develop anyway. Also don’t forget that the Rangers don’t need to rush him. The fact he got a few games to see what the NHL was all about is almost a bonus and hopefully will have whet his appetite for more. It may be a different position to Grachev but take a look at Zdeno Chara’s start in North America. He was a European with a huge frame whose first 147 NHL games yielded just 29 points as well as a horrendous – 61 plus/minus. Chara was lucky his development time was spent at the Islanders who could afford to have a liability on the roster (pity for them they didn’t show a little more patience…..). Grachev deserves to be sent down but it’s not a bad thing, it’s the right thing. No need to panic just yet.

Grachev Returned To Hartford

Evgeny Grachev is on his way back to Hartford. The AHL Transaction Log has him being returned to Hartfrod today. In his six games with the Rangers, Grachev did not register a point, and averaged about six minutes of playing time per game. It is widely speculated that the Rangers knew Grachev was not ready at the time of recalling him, but were desperate for bodies. Grachev didn’t play poorly, but it is clear he is still a season or two away from playing in the NHL.

Thanks to Michael Gleich for breaking this.

Grachev Will Remain With Rangers

Evgeny Grachev, the Rangers 3rd round pick in 2008, will be sticking with the Rangers for the time being. As per Jesse Spector, coach John Tortorella has stated that Grachev will be staying in the NHL:

“He’s gonna play,” Tortorella said. “We’re gonna keep him here right now, and I want to see more of him, and hopefully he can keep on growing, and as long as he protects the puck, I think the other parts of his game will come into play because I think he’ll get more minutes.”

After playing a little under seven minutes in his debut against Carolina, Grachev received more playing time (eight minutes) against Toronto. Although he hasn’t had an effect on the score sheet, Grachev has been solid, finishing with an even rating and five hits through his first 15 minutes of NHL ice time.

Grachev probably won’t remain with the Rangers long term this season, as the injuries to Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal, and Chris Drury have forced the Rangers to be creative with how to fill the giant holes left by the three injured veterans. When Gaborik returns this month, the Rangers will be back to 14 forwards, and 23 skaters. However, when Drury returns in December, it is likely that Grachev will be the one returned to Hartford. That is, of course, unless he forces the coaching staff to keep him here.

Grachev Will Play Tonight

As per Jesse Spector, recently recalled Evgeny Grachev has been informed that he will play tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. Grachev will either take the spot of Derek Boogaard, who has an injured hand, or Erik Christensen. Both Boogaard and Christensen skated in this morning’s optional skate. As per Spector, Boogaard was the last off the ice at the skate this morning, working on deflections. It is expected that Boogaard will sit tonight, as Carolina is a smaller team, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Christensen sit.

Evgeny Grachev Called Up

As per Steve Zipay the Rangers will call up highly touted prospect Evgeny Grachev to replace the injured Derek Boogaard. Boogaard cut his hand during his fight with Shawn Thornton, and his hand is now infected. He will unlikely be able to go tomorrow or Saturday. Grachev, still just 20 years old, has a goal and an assist in nine games with Hartford/Connecticut this season. His offensive numbers are not impressive, but his overall play has been much better than last season, which is the main reason why he has been called up.

In other injury-related news, Zipay is confirming that Artem Anisimov (ankle) and Michal Rozsival (knee), who both missed practice today, will not be out of the lineup this weekend. Both injuries are minor, with no lingering affects.

AHL Review

The Hartford Wolf Pack (or Whale, you choose) has had a mixed set of results over the past few games but the positive news is that key Rangers prospects have started to turn in good performances after quiet starts.

The Weekend Set

Last Friday saw the Wolf Pack lose 3-2 to The Devils affiliate in Albany. The Pack however did get a point as they took the game to overtime. The game featured two firsts. First of all, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen got his first goal in North America while another first saw Wade Redden get his first goal (on the power play no less) in the AHL. Unfortunately, neither first was enough for the Wolf Pack to get the 2 points.

The Wolf Pack returned to action the next night, once again on the road, this time taking on the rival Bridgeport Sound Tigers who are the Islanders affiliate. This game was a tight defensive affair which the Pack edged 2-1 on another goal from Zuccarello-Aasen, which saw prospects Pavel Valentenko and Evgeny Grachev get the assists. The first Pack goal saw ‘banished Rangers’ combine as Tim Kennedy and Wade Redden assisted on Jeremy Williams’ second goal of the season. The game also featured strong goaltending from Chad Johnson who stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced.

As is usual in the AHL, the Pack had a 3 in 3 nights stretch and played Sunday against the Providence Bruins, once more on the road. This was a strong victory for the Pack who despite being heavily outshot got a 3-0 shutout victory. Despite Kris Newbury’s 3 assists, Dane Byers 1+1 and Jeremy William’s 1+1 the stand out player for the Pack was young goaltender Cam Talbot who saved 41 shots to get the win. Other than 1 period of work last year this was Talbot’s first full game at the AHL level and what a first it was. The tall, 6’3 goaltender will have definitely put himself forward for more starts on this evidence.

Midweek Slump

This Wednesday the Pack played their 4th game in 6 days and the result wasn’t pretty. The result was a 5-1 loss at home to Norfolk which, according to reports, was underpinned by poor effort all round. This was another game where the Pack was heavily outshot, this time 36-25. The Packs lone goal was scored by Tim Kennedy who appears to have slotted seamlessly into the Hartford side. The loss brings the Wolf Pack’s record to 3-2-0-1 after 6 games leaving them 2nd in their division, behind Portland.

After 6 games a few players have started the year well offensively. Kris Newbury has 8 assists after 6 games, Dane Byers has 2+4 in 6 games, Jeremy Williams has 3+2 in 6 games while a certain Wade Redden is 1+5 in 6 games and appears to be playing good offensive hockey. Key prospects Evgeny Grachev, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen and Dale Weise all have 2 points so far. Norwegian forward Zuccarello-Aasen has improved in the past few games and has looked more comfortable on the smaller ice, getting 2 goals in his last 4 games.

Bad Break

Dale Weise, after breaking his left hand, will have surgery in New York on Friday and will be out 4-6 weeks. Given the injuries on the Rangers and the solid start (2pts in 3 games) Weise had in Hartford the timing of his injury is bad for himself as well as the organisation. Weise will hope to get back as soon as possible to avoid dropping down the depth chart.

The Whalepack is Stacked

The Rangers had some very stiff competition for the NHL club this year. With stiff competition comes some very difficult cuts, which leads to a very strong AHL club. This year, the Rangers AHL affiliate Hartford Wolfpack Connecticut Whale are the beneficiaries of some of that Ranger depth. Currently, the Rangers have 16 forwards on the club, with two (Chris Drury, Vinny Prospal) on IR. Once Drury and Prospal return, the Whalepack will benefit even more, as two more players will need to be demoted.

At the forward position, the Whale have two of the highest touted Ranger prospects that didn’t make the team this year in Evgeny Grachev and Mats Zuccarello-Aasen. Although Grachev struggled last season, he is prime for a bounce-back year, much like Artem Anisimov did in his second year in Hartford. MZA led the Swedish elite league in scoring, and the pint sized winger showed he can skate with the big boys. He is in the AHL to get some much needed adjustment time, but there’s no reason why he and Grachev can’t benefit from each other’s company on the top line. The Whale are also going to have the physical wing combination of Dale Weise and Dane Byers back this season. The two wingers played very well together last season, especially with Kris Newbury as their center. The same production is going to be expected of this combo, if not more.

On defense, you have to start with touted prospects Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko, the last two cuts from Rangers camp. The two may have been cut due to waiver issues, but that is no reason to think they won’t perform in the AHL. Both are physical, crease clearing guys, and will spend a lot of time making sure goaltender Chad Johnson has a clear view of every shot. However, Valentenko has a booming shot, and it is very likely he will see powerplay time, ripping howitzers at opponents net-minders. You can’t ignore the veteran presence of Wade Redden, who reported to Hartford in a professional manner. Redden was a bit of a mentor for Michael Del Zotto last season with the Rangers, and many are hoping he can guide the likes of McDonagh and Valentenko this season.

In net, Chad Johnson will rest easy knowing he’s not going to play train-tag with the Rangers this season. Dos-Nueve was called up more often than a Vegas hooker last season, which may have affected his performance down the stretch. With one of Cameron Talbot or Jordan Parise backing him up, there is enough pressure on him to play well, while having enough comfort that he won’t be needing a monthly train ticket this season.

The Whale may have lost their top scorers in P.A. Parenteau and Corey Locke, but a bounce-back year from Grachev and a good season from MZA can easily replace that production. It’s going to be fun to watch how those two develop over the course of the year. It’s also going to be interesting to watch how McDonagh and Valentenko fair in their first years in the AHL. Those four could all be call ups this year, should the Rangers need it. Those four could also see themselves as permanent fixtures on the Rangers roster come next season. It isn’t often that an AHL club can boast about that. The top-end talent in Hartford could lead to a very successful 2010-2011 season for the Whale.

How Todd White Fits

Glen Sather woke up earlier this off season, after a stormy fishing trip with his pal Brian Burke up North, and felt a little light headed. He set off to his office in New York and proceeded to go about his business. Glen was struck by lightning on his trip. Something had changed. He had acquired the voice of reason. No doubts, Glen Sather has had an (unexpectedly?) excellent off season. The Rangers have improved and haven’t sacrificed any part of the future going forward. Include Todd White in the new Rangers, short term.

Sather seems to specialise in low risk high reward trades. Todd White cost the Rangers absolutely nothing and potentially gives the Rangers genuine depth amongst the top 9 forwards. Before getting excited however it’s worth noting there’s a chance White cannot regain his 08/09 form where he had 22 goals and 73 points. Remember also, that he had a certain Russian line mate who went by the name of Ilya so White’s numbers were likely skewed.  However if White is physically fit (after his various operations) he has the ability to contribute 40-50 points so potentially he’ll make a nice addition…

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Prospect Pipeline: Evgeny Grachev

With all the hullabaloo over Derek Stepan’s signing (I am among the guilty parties that has got caught up in the ‘hysteria’) it’s easy to forget that right now The Rangers have a lot of great talent on the horizon. One such player is Evgeny Malkin Grachev. Grachev, who has stated he wants to be like his illustrious namesake could very well be a line mate of Stepan’s next season. Whether that will be in New York or Hartford however, remains to be seen. A little look at Grachev and his development….

A lot of Rangers fans are saying they’d like to see, perhaps even expect to see the talented Grachev make the Rangers next season. The hulking Russian doesn’t appear ready for the NHL. Consider that carefully; The Rangers don’t need to rush (and ruin) another good prospect. Why are the Hawks in the Stanley Cup final? One reason is that they don’t unnecessarily rush their prospects. Likely Norris winner Duncan Keith played 2 full years in the AHL and he didn’t have language barriers to face. Byfuglien played 2 minor league seasons so did troy Brouwer, the list goes on.  I could bring up examples of The Rangers rushing their prospects like Jamie Lundmark…. Oh, I just did

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